Company Secretary 

Key Themes 

  • A spotlight on the role
    COVID-19 has shone a light on the role of Company Secretary/ Chief Governance Officer with senior individuals within the function taking on a leading role in decision making, communication and crisis management from a governance perspective. The current ongoing crisis, with enforced remote working for many, has only highlighted the importance of the role, with heads of governance occupying a unique position, advising both the board and working closely with the executives. The current situation has allowed the company secretary function to proactively facilitate clear corporate communication and governance change.
  • From crisis to opportunity
    The 2020 pandemic was the catalyst that forced many organisations to introduce virtual board meetings, digital signatures and electronic board papers. Now firms are recognising that while these changes were initially unwanted, many are not only overdue, but also represent an improvement on the traditional ways of doing things. As a result, we have observed an increased demand for senior technology-savvy company secretaries. Many organisations are realising that far from 2020 being a one-off, progress lies in embracing change such as virtual AGMs, shareholder events and introducing voting apps. Ultimately, hiring senior individuals who can proactively drive this move into digitalisation will allow organisations to streamline and update their governance processes as well as save costs.
  • A slowdown in market moves
    The COVID-19 crisis has seen a slowdown in new company secretarial appointments with many organisations using senior interim expertise. In addition, there is increased caution from candidates who may choose to remain in their current firms rather than risk a move where the interview process and onboarding will be done on an entirely virtual basis.

Key Company Secretary Moves: Q3 2020 

  • Tracey Wood joined Balfour Beatty as General Counsel & Company Secretary from Costain Group.
  • Victoria Hames has taken on the permanent role of Company Secretary at Octopus Investments, having held the role on an interim basis for the last year.
  • Hannah Ashdown joined HSBC as Global Head of Board Advisory from BP.
  • John-Green Odada joined BP as Head of Board and Board Committees. He was previously Group Company Secretary of the London Metal Exchange.
  • Marc Boston joined HSBC as Consultant, Corporate Governance and Secretariat. He was previously Company Secretary at Santander UK.

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