Career paths
Many Chartered Secretaries are CEOs, chairpersons
By Ayesha Inoon
A Chartered Secretary - contrary to common misconceptions - is a high ranking professional who is qualified in corporate law, finance, governance, company secretary-ship and management.

Being key players in the operation of a business organization, they work as chairpersons, chief executives and non-executive directors, as well as executives and company secretaries. Their broad based training enables them to employ their skills in a variety of sectors and to be the primary source of advice on the conduct of business, spanning everything from legal advice to the development of strategy and corporate planning.

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), prepares graduates for the challenges of the profession. It uses a combination of examinations and validated work experience to lead to the qualification of Chartered Secretary. This qualification is internationally recognised and provides a gateway to employment in many fields.

The ICSA’s International Qualifying Scheme (IQS) is the only professional accreditation programme to offer postgraduate training across board level business practices; corporate governance; law; finance; administration; Company Secretaryship and management. It has four compulsory Graduate Diploma level papers supported by four preparatory papers for those who need to top up their initial degree.

The new ICSA Certificate and Diploma in Business Practice and the Certificate and Diploma in Offshore Finance and Administration are stand-alone qualifications that have been created to provide a broad perspective of the industries and to promote a high degree of operational knowledge, covering legal, regulatory and financial frameworks. Those who complete the Diploma level will be eligible for direct entry onto the ICSA Professional Programme, and eventually to full ICSA membership.

Alison Broadbent, Director Professional Education of the ICSA says, “These are generalist qualifications that give you the skills and opportunities to move in any area of business.” She adds that it is always a pleasure to visit students in Sri Lanka, among whom there is always an abundance of prize-winners despite the small number of students.

With high profile business failures-especially in the USA-sparking a mass of regulatory and legislative changes, Company Secretaries are valued by businesses much more than ever before. As well as working across all sectors of corporate practice, Chartered Secretaries are employed by international professional services firms within their company secretariat division to provide company secretary consultancy and services for a wide variety of clients. Members are also able to establish their own professional consultancies such as the private practices of lawyers and accountants, and are supported in this by the Public Practice Scheme of the ICSA.

The Chartered Secretary’s role is constantly challenging and diversified. From overseeing mergers and acquisitions to preparing board papers or running share plans and pension schemes, the Chartered Secretary makes an invaluable contribution to effective corporate management. One of the primary roles of Chartered Secretaries’ departments is to research and prepare reports and advisory notes for the board.

They also uphold the highest principles of corporate governance through the constant appraisal and application of changing expectations. John Ainsworth, Chief Executive of the ICSA, who visited Sri Lanka with Ms. Broadbent says, “Chartered Secretaries are pioneers of corporate governance. Developing nations especially need good Chartered Secretaries so that they can do away with corruption and deliver the product directly to the people.”

The ICSA has been around for 115 years, surviving the changes and trends through the skills and integrity of its members. In the words of Ainsworth -“Chartered Secretaries are expected to demonstrate integrity, honesty and probity and if only all corporations did the same-our members would be out of a job!”

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