2017 President's Address

It is with great pleasure and honour that I accepted my election as President of CSIA, which took place on 15 March at the CSIA Council meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa. CSIA enters a new era in 2017 and I am extremely excited to work with the member countries and our valued stakeholders to continue to utilize our strengths to be bold and build CSIA’s future together.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Executive Committee of 2016 under the leadership of Rick Summers for their hard work and dedication to manage the CSIA to meet its objectives. Congratulations also to the newly elected Executive Committee; I look forward to working with you and the member countries and in combining our collective expertise and resources, I strongly believe that the outcomes will be constructive and fruitful for CSIA.

As we ring in the new era with all the exciting new developments, let me take a moment to reflect on the past

achievements of CSIA.

CSIA had been incorporated 7 years ago in Geneva and officially launched on 23 March 2010 in Paris under the auspices of the IFC and OECD. Over the past 7 years CSIA has achieved the following milestones:

  • Retention of Full members, especially the support of founding members
  • Thought Leadership Papers and Publications:
    • 20 practical steps to better corporate governance;
    • Governance principles for corporate secretaries;
    • Shareholder engagements - practical steps for corporate secretaries; and
    • Ten practical guidelines for improving board communication.
  • Corporate secretaries toolkit;
  • Website at www.cisaorg.com;
  • E-Magazine - Global governance voice;
  • International conferences in Shanghai and Delhi;
  • Roundtables/Webinars in New York, Sao Paolo, Kuala Lumpur and London;

And most recently, appointment of Zahra Cassim as our CEO.

It is no small feat for this 7-year old Association to have achieved the above and we could not have done it without the generous support of our member countries and sponsors.

One of the most recent developments is the incorporation of the new home for CSIA in Hong Kong. My thanks to the previous Executive Committee and in particular, the Hong Kong team for their unstinting efforts and contribution in guiding and coordinating with KPMG (Geneva) to facilitate the liquidation process and the incorporation of CSIA in Hong Kong.

The Council meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa was quite pivotal in deciding the strategic direction of the CSIA as Council members debated the importance of profiling CSIA in both regional and global arenas to promote the role of corporate secretaries and governance professionals.

One of the critical drivers of this process and one of the key priorities of CSIA is to increase membership, which includes bodies with a focus on promoting the profession of corporate secretaries and governance professionals. An extensive research project is being undertaken by Council members to identify organisations at a global level that are focused on promoting corporate secretaries and governance professionals. This project is expected to facilitate the recruitment of new members to the CSIA and to strengthen the organisation’s resource base and increase its global footprint.

A further critical project for CSIA in 2017 will be to seek recognition from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the creation of a new classification on the Trade in Services Business Classification. CSIA made a presentation before the Committee on Specific Commitments of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on June 25, 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland to include this new listing by the name of ‘CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, COMPLIANCE AND SECRETARIAL ADVISORY SERVICES’. This initiative will be pursued with renewed vigour and presentations are also planned to be made to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in this regard. As recognition is a critical component for growth, we are also planning to lobby organisations such as the World Bank and the OECD to build partnerships for continuing growth.

I am also very excited about our new thought leadership initiative on board evaluation, as we take a slightly different approach in that we will first do some global research on board evaluation practices through a questionnaire distributed amongst and beyond our membership base. The research and some key recommendations, specifically on what governance professionals can do to assist in improving board evaluation and performance in general, will then be published.

I am looking forward to implementing the following key strategies for our 2017/18 period:

  • Membership drive
  • Creating awareness of CSIA
  • Deepen and diversify our international connections
  • Acquire and utilise deep skills
  • Build strong digital capabilities
  • Strengthen our partnerships to enable innovation and growth

The vital role that corporate secretaries play in company leadership has evolved significantly in the past decade to keep pace with changing expectations and there can be little doubt that it is evolving beyond the administrative, and is increasingly becoming more strategic and compliance-focussed.

Our focus is to ensure that we promote the role of secretary as one of the most important in the company and to ensure the recognition of their role at a global level.

In closing I would like to thank all the member countries for their contributions to our E-magazine and for their continued support to grow the CSIA.

Grace Tan

President (2017)

2016 President's Address

Greetings to you all and may I take this opportunity to wish everbody a successful 2016.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to the new representatives from our member countries and hope that you will enjoy being part of CSIA and that together, as a team, we can make a difference to the corporate world.

We can do this by ensuring that Corporate Secretaries are fully trained to handle the changes which are taking place in the world today, particularly with regard to Corporate Governance, Risk Compliance and Management. The articles in our Global Governance Voice magazine will continue to focus on this arena of competence.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Paul Davis, who is the Commercial Director of Ninehills Media Limited. In November 2015, CSIA and Ninehills entered into an Association Management Services Agreement. Paul has many years of experience in the B2B media industry in Hong Kong and across Asia, and with his expertise in digital media we are certain that we will communicate with our various stakeholders in a manner that not only elevates CSIA in the eyes of our current members and sponsors, but will hopefully attract other countries to become members and get additional sponsors on board.

However, as I have already mentioned, this can only happen if we all support this Association of ours. Contact with other country members will help us all to benefit from how and what they have done and are doing in their respective areas to promote our ideals. We cannot let this wealth of expertise go to waste.

CSIA is recognised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as the Global voice of corporate secretaries and governance professionals, and are the only organisation representing the corporate point of view on global governance issues today. This is a level of excellence which we need to guard jealously.

In closing I would like to express my sincere thanks to the EXCO of 2015 for their dedication to the Association and welcome the 2016 EXCO members:

  • Vice President: Dr. Nicholas Letting (Kenya)
  • Treasurer: Carina Wessels (Southern Africa)
  • Secretary: Atul Mehta (India)
  • Executive committee member: Dr Nat Ofo (Nigeria)


Rick Summers

President (2016)

2015 President's Address

Greetings on behalf of the Executive Committee and Council of the Corporate Secretaries International Association (CSIA):

Established in 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, CSIA is an international federation of professional bodies that promotes? the adoption of best corporate secretarial and governance practices as a means of improving organizational performance and stakeholder value.  

CSIA’s membership includes sixteen national representative bodies (including the US and Canada) and represents approximately 70,000 corporate secretaries and governance professionals in more than 70 countries around the world.   CSIA members serve in a wide range of governance, managerial/executive and financial roles, including corporate secretary, chief governance officer / executive, legal counsel, ethics and compliance officer, enterprise risk manager, finance manager and professional administrative manager.

Recognized by OECD as the “global voice” of corporate secretaries and governance professionals,[This is a fairly big statement – can we reference it to something? Not in the letter but in the background just in case.]  CSIA is the only organization [Ditto re background reference/facts] representing the corporate point of view on global governance issues today.  CSIA is uniquely positioned to speak about what constitutes good corporate governance.  Corporate secretaries serve on the “front line” of corporate governance: they are in the boardrooms every day, and have the responsibility, specialized knowledge and experience to ensure board processes are effective and the board receives accurate, relevant, complete and sufficient information and advice to make effective decisions.  

As described below, CSIA is actively engaged in promoting best practices in corporate governance, through 1) Networking on a global basis, 2) Educational conferences and roundtables, 3) Publications, 4) Advocacy and 5) Thought Leadership:

Networking. The meetings of CSIA’s Executive Committee and Council, as well as its conferences and roundtables, provide global forums for networking and sharing information on best practices and global trends in corporate governance. 

Education: CSIA has sponsored and participated in international conferences and roundtables in Shanghai, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, Dubai and New York (and Johannesburg in October, 2015).   Responding to strong demands in emerging markets, CSIA has developed, with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), “The Corporate Secretary’s Toolkit”, which is being used to train corporate secretaries in emerging markets and developing countries around the world.

Publications: Among CSIA’s publications are: 1) “Twenty Practical Steps for Better Corporate Governance”, authored by Professor R. I. (Bob) Tricker (2010), 2) “Governance Principles for Corporate Secretaries“ (2013), 3) the aforementioned “Corporate Secretaries Toolkit” (2014) and 4) “Shareholder Engagement – Practical Steps for Corporate Secretaries” (2015).   CSIA also publishes an e-Magazine: “Global Governance Voice”, which contains, not only feature articles on significant topics in corporate governance, but also governance news from CSIA member countries.  Links to these documents are found on this website. 

Advocacy: In June, 2012, CSIA petitioned the World Trade Organization to add a new trade sector classification for “corporate governance, compliance and secretarial advisory services” to their list, in recognition of the separate identity and increasingly significant role played by these professionals on a global level. CSIA is working to achieve broader recognition of the corporate governance professional’s role among worldwide organizations, such as the WTO, ILO, OECD, IFC, the World Bank, the EU and the United Nations.

Thought Leadership:  CSIA’s Thought Leadership Task Force develops position statements on significant corporate governance topics and issues practical guidelines based on the experience of corporate secretaries throughout the world.  “Shareholder Engagement: Practical Steps for Corporate Secretaries” was the most recent such publication  , introduced in a global webinar in April, 2015.  The next thought leadership initiative will address the topic of effective board communications, including the use of technology to enhance such communications.

CSIA is actively seeking new member organizations in countries that are not currently represented among our membership (e.g., Europe, South America).  Eligibility for membership is not limited to organizations of corporate secretaries, so long as the association focuses on corporate governance in its broadest sense.  Please contact me via katherinekcombs@gmail.com if you would like to know more.

I am honored to serve as the President of CSIA.  After spending nearly thirty years working in this field in the United States, I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many others who are committed to good corporate governance throughout the world.


Katherine K. Combs

President (2015)

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