By Dee Lundy-Charles
Where the governance of a company is concerned, there is no more crucial human resource investment than training the Board, says Lisa Charles, CEO and co-founder of the Saint Lucia-based Caribbean Governance Training Institute (CGTI), which continues to grow in strength and reputation after almost two years of offering board governance training to organisations in the Caribbean.
In November, CGTI conducted its latest program in St. Vincent, and once again welcomed top executives from national banks and other large companies to participate in the unique 3 Day Chartered Director Program. The Chartered Director or C.Dir is an international designation which involves an optional 2 hour exam based on a three day course covering all aspects of board governance. In the first year of the C.Dir program, candidates from Saint Lucia, Grenada, Guyana, Barbados, Turks & Caicos, Dominica and others countries in the region, have benefitted from CGTI’s extensive knowledge and expertise through high-energy, interactive sessions with an international faculty of Chartered Directors.
With training budgets hard to come by, it is a credit to CGTI’s vision that Caribbean organisations are showing commitment to strengthening the effectiveness of their boards, and Lisa Charles says the penny is dropping that companies which don’t are likely doomed to fail.
Since the spectacular implosion of big banks and PR disasters of big oil, it has become clear that an ineffective board can break any organisation, and as the old adage says, the buck stops at the top.
“Caribbean companies are becoming more aware that it takes skill to sit on a board and be effective. Personal skills are part of the story, but professional skills were not always required for board positions in the past – like reading a complex budget or interpreting market research statistics. As Dr. Bart always says, there are three essential qualifications that all directors must meet if they are to properly do their job: Competence, Curiosity and Courage. Equipping directors with the first C – competence – is the primary vision of CGTI.”
A collaboration between Dr. Chris Bart, founder of The Directors College at McMaster University in Canada, and Lisa Charles of Milestone Development, the training and development company that is now in its eighth year, the CGTI faculty has a broad expanse of experience and education in the complex world of corporate governance, which has undergone seismic upheaval over the past twenty years. No longer can an organisation rely on an unskilled board to deliver profits and dividends to shareholders, and keeping the company reputation above reproach is just one of the collective skills required by an effective board. Asking the right questions to verify, confirm and prove that all is well financially is another, as is making the tough decisions to safeguard the interests of stakeholders.
Says Dr. Bart: “The moment you look for outside investors to fund growth, you have to face the level of scrutiny required by modern companies to safeguard against risk and protect assets. They expect an independent Board of Governors to be the ultimate risk management system. If they fail in that role, the organisation fails.”
Dr. Chris Bart is well known locally for his regular “governance advice” contributions to Saint Lucia’s Business Focus magazine, as well as the new OECS Journal. Recently the work of CGTI was highlighted to the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, who expressed his support for the Chartered Directors Program when he met with Dr. Bart in November. With C.Dir programs for 2016 scheduled in the Bahamas, Antigua, St. Kitts, Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica, Trinidad and Cayman, board governance training is becoming once of Saint Lucia’s most influential exports, and the Caribbean Governance Training Institute is fulfilling its vision of raising the standard of governance for boards and their directors across the region.