Close this search box.
2017 President’s Address
All day - March 15, 2017

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
  • 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)