Carine Feipel (ILA): Leading Good Governance

Carine Feipel, Chair of the Institute of Directors in Luxembourg (ILA) describes how the association remains relevant by adapting its mandate to an ever-evolving governance climate. Interview.

 

Can you describe ILA in a few words? 

 

ILA is a not-for-profit association with over 1,800 members. We have individual members and corporate members, all of whom have an interest in topics related to corporate governance. Our object is to promote good governance. To achieve this, we endeavour to help our members become better directors or promoters of good governance. We organize training courses on a variety of topics that are of interest to boards of directors: these can be technical topics such as banking regulation, best practices in the governance of investment funds, etc., or cover soft skills such as chairing, decision-making processes, social media, etc. Besides organising training, ILA also has a role in public advocacy: we discuss various governance matters or subjects that are relevant to our members with a number of public authorities.

“Digitalization, artificial intelligence, ESG are not only trendy expressions, but they trigger actual changes for companies and their boards.”

What are ILA’s priorities for the coming year?

 

Digitalization, artificial intelligence, ESG are not only trendy expressions, but they trigger actual changes for companies and their boards. As a consequence, boards must adapt to these new challenges and ensure they are ready for the changes that are impacting them. But they must also see these changes as great opportunities for the companies they serve. One of our priorities, therefore, is to ensure that ILA continues to adapt its offer to its members: our training today is not the same as five years ago. The content of our programmes has evolved with the environment in which we operate. One example is ESG, and notably the topic of sustainability, which was not covered by any of our programmes five years ago, but which is a steady component of much of our training today. Other priorities of ILA relate to the situation of directors in Luxembourg: we need to make sure that the environment remains attractive for highly-skilled board members. We know the importance and value of having knowledgeable and diverse boards, but we need to ensure that Luxembourg retains and develops these talents. More and more young people are needed on boards because they bring new levels of expertise. We have developed a specific education programme for these “aspiring directors” to help them get ready for the job. 2020 is the ILA’s 15th Anniversary. We plan to celebrate this in June with our members and friends.

What opportunities and challenges do you foresee for governance functions in the next five years?

 

There is clearly a need for governance functions to adapt to new landscapes and new technologies. The expectation that directors and other governance officers know everything at every moment in time means that they have to constantly increase their knowledge. This is a challenge, but also a fantastic opportunity. Well-trained and well-prepared directors bring value to companies; this is why directors have to continuously educate themselves about new developments. Boards of directors are today recognized for the value they bring to companies. As a consequence, there is an increasing demand for them. Not only former executives, not only retired auditors and lawyers: the skillset searched for is very diverse. This is an opportunity for many people who did not see themselves as directors including younger people and people with specific expertise. They can learn the job of being a director and develop into effective board members. It is true, however, that boards are also more and more in the spotlight of regulators, authorities or other parties when something goes wrong. For that reason, it is fundamental that directors are prepared for these situations and know how to handle a crisis. ILA endeavours to help its members, through appropriate training, to recognize their duties and carry out their functions accordingly.

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