A new route to professionalism

The Chartered Member Assessment can be a powerful affirmation of director skill, capability and experience. Three directors talk about their pathway to Chartered Membership.

Stepping up to Chartered Membership

“Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows improve their knowledge and skillset as they move along the pathway, and gain increased governance credibility and respect from their peers and the wider community.”

Introduced on 1 October 2014, the Chartered Membership pathway established seven categories of IoD membership, providing defined standards for the director community for the first time. Those making the step up to Chartered Membership have to prove their skill through the Chartered Member Assessment, completing a written assignment and exam. They must also attest to their good character and commit to upholding the principles of the IoD Charter.

A new professionalism

Mel Hewitson says that for her, passing the Chartered Member Assessment was a fundamental step toward being recognised as a professional director. 

“Unlike IoD members who earned their Chartered Membership through significant experience as directors, I had less demonstrable experience at the board table, so I really saw passing that Chartered Membership Assessment as essential to demonstrating that baseline governance capability.”

With a background in institutional investment management and stints as Head of Wealth Risk at ANZ and Director Financial Advisor Regulation at the Financial Markets Authority, Mel says that governance has been a developing theme throughout her career. Now a director of the Auckland Communities Foundation and chair of the nominating committee for the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Fund, she joined the IoD in 2013.

“I was at an interview with Treasury’s COMU team, and they advised me that if I was serious about a governance career, I should join the IoD and take the Company Directors’ Course. And I was, so I did.”

She completed the course in early 2014, mentioning to the Director Development team at the time that the ability to test her knowledge would be a valuable opportunity.

“At that point, my interest was more about proving that I’d embedded the knowledge and making my investment more tangible. So when the tiered membership announcements were made later in 2014, it was an easy decision for me that the Chartered Member route was what I wanted to do.”

She completed the Company Directors’ Course Refresher in June, with a view to being assessed later in the year. Coupled with online modules in ethics, and health and safety governance, she says it was good preparation for the assessment.

“I found the Refresher course really forced me out of the management headspace of my day job to focus on the key governance themes and kickstart my revision for the assessment.”

“As for the assessment process itself, I thought it was well-designed, really well explained and run. Content-wise - yes, it was challenging, but positively so.”

Australasian approach

Based in Auckland and working for Australian-owned ANZ and BNZ, Vivien Wynne felt she needed a trans-Tasman perspective on governance.

“A number of our listed companies here are also listed in Australia and have an Australasian-Asian focus, so for me, it seemed logical to have knowledge of governance in both jurisdictions.”

She joined the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) in 2014, undertaking its Company Directors’ Course and becoming an accredited Graduate of AICD.  Joining the IoD in early 2015, she now has her sights set on the Chartered Membership Assessment.

She says consulting Membership Team Leader Lisa McRae made it “simple and easy” to plot her route to Chartered Membership, and to develop her individual professional development plan.

“Having undertaken the assessment process in Australia, the pathway for me was to undertake the Company Director Refresher course. With an exemption from the assignment, the next step was to sit the examination, and then undertake the Chartered Member requirements.”

She says the CDC Refresher filled any knowledge gaps and equipped her well for the exam.

“There were very experienced company directors facilitating and the course was enriched by examples of applied governance from attendees.”

“What I found helpful was that there was updated New Zealand material, covering governance requirements,  case studies, legislation and judicial decisions, which I could add to the body of knowledge that I gained from the Australian course.”

“That’s based on the fact that the preparation required is knowledge of the Four Pillars, recent course material, as well as the Companies Act, and all of that is discussed at the Refresher course.”

Vivien recommends that others considering the Chartered Member Assessment consult the IoD’s Director Competency Framework to help identify areas that may need strengthening.

“For a number of us, we haven’t sat exams for a while, so it’s also helpful to think about exam technique. Think about the number of questions and the time you have to complete the assessment.”

“Preparation equals confidence, and you can go into the assessment confident of the outcome when you’ve done the preparation.”

Making time to learn

A tailored training day run by the IoD’s Boardroom Training team was the inspiration Mercer Managing Director Martin Lewington needed to focus on his governance skills.

He signed up for the CDC Refresher and says it hit the right spots.

“It gave me a couple of days out, it focused on a lot of the new issues – financial markets, changes in health and safety, conflicts of interest, many things.”

“Those two days gave me an opportunity just to reflect, refresh, and update skills – but also spend time discussing with others contemplating a similar path or sharing experiences, so that was really good.”

Having made the first step along the pathway, Martin decided to continue on to Chartered Membership.

“Chartered Membership gives you that discipline and motivation to continually embark on that self-development course – you know, making sure you do take time to stay up to date or participate in seminars. It puts a really good framework and process around it.”

He made time in a busy schedule to take the Chartered Membership Assessment in August.

“You do think, ‘Where am I going to find the time?’ But it’s just a case of making sure you know what you’re signing up to. And it’s ongoing - you’re making that commitment, so you do need to prioritise time for learning and that continued self-growth.”

“Directors want to be the best that they can be to ensure that the organisations they govern can be the best, and the IoD and the courses they offer – the learnings, the opportunity to network – makes an important contribution to that.”