Digitalization has profound effects on existing employee functions. Some see new and emerging technologies brought about by rapid digitalization can potentially render certain roles futile. On the flip side, they also offer a wealth of opportunities to redefine or improve how people work.
Digitalization have triggered the improvement of various processes in business operations. The boards also experienced this improvement as they went digital. They have proven how adopting new technology has improved their governance processes in and out of the boardroom.
Digitalization has undoubtedly reimagined the way corporate secretaries work — both in scope and execution. As an effect, corporate secretaries take on the challenge to think about how they can leverage technology to enhance the way they work.
Corporate secretaries play a vital role in ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the board, especially during board meetings. As boards go digital, corporate secretaries must work closelywith the board to ensure a seamless transition.
Boards can face many challenges in the digitalization process. In turn, corporate secretaries play an integral role in minimizing the risks and disruptions brought about by going digital.
On top of this, the responsibilities of corporate secretaries have also changed. Gone are the days wherein corporate secretaries are solely expected to handle minute-taking and book-keeping. Their responsibilities have reached to the lengths of overseeing processes to supporting effective corporate governance while remaining compliant to organization bylaws and national regulations.
“It’s not so much that the administrative roles will fall away; rather, they will be done in a different way,” said Waweru Mathenge, Chairman of the Institute of Corporate Secretaries in Kenya when asked about the administrative functions of corporate secretaries.
Challenges to the Corporate Secretaries
As boardroom digitalization continuously evolves, the role of a corporate secretary evolves along with it. As such, the modern-day corporate secretary should be open to continuous learning. He or she should also be able to cope with new technologies, and flexible enough to adapt and face the challenges presented by the new normal.
According to Nitin Potdar, M&A Partner at J. Sagar Associates, corporate secretaries typically face three distinct challenges:
- Adopting the right technology – Corporate secretaries should lead the board in choosing and ultimately utilizing the new technologies. With the right guidance from the corporate secretary, the board decides on the right product to invest in. However, the board may not get the right product the first time. Thus, the corporate should initially conduct a needs assessment. The board can then match it with the appropriate board management software to use.
- Training to handle the technology – In many companies, the corporate secretary is the first person to fully grasp the potential of any implemented boardroom technology. He or she should be able to spend enough time to train and understand all the new system’s functionalities. On top of this, the corporate secretary should make sure that there will always be a backup line of support through the transition process and formal system utilization of the board.
- Supporting the board members – As part of the boardroom digitalization process, the board members need to be trained by the technology provider. Corporate secretaries must cultivate a complete sense of assurance and confidentiality within the board. They should train together with the board to ensure that everyone can maximize the use of the tool. This holds everyone technologically aligned and kept in check during every virtual meeting.
Continuous Corporate Growth
To ensure professional growth of corporate secretaries, upskilling is imperative to continuously train and learn new skills. Doing so can raise the value of corporate secretaries as they help raise the efficiency and effectiveness of the board.
As Raymond Lam, CEO of CrewCorp Services, put forward “once corporate secretaries are able to upskill, you create more value in the work that you do. Once you create more value, then you know your role becomes more valuable.”
Going digital in the boardroom has opened up limitless possibilities for growth for corporate secretaries and the role they take on. In order to fulfill their roles better, corporate secretaries must keep up and stay ahead of technological trends as well as corporate governance trends.
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