Old Mutual Investment Group is collaborating with the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and the INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative in the offering of the inaugural Africa Directors Programme. The programme highlights the importance of enhancing the capacity of company directors for ethical and effective corporate governance and board leadership. This is aligned with Old Mutual’s own commitment to the development of the governance and leadership competencies of high-performing directors and would-be directors.

The programme has a particular focus on director development in Africa, dealing with the governance challenges on the African continent. Through the offering of a learning and development pathway for directors, the programme also aims to promote sustainable business development through an integrated sustainability vision for governance and board processes as well as governance credibility for stakeholder confidence. The programme carries the endorsement of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA) and is aligned with the requirements of the Chartered Director (South Africa) designation.

Old Mutual Investment Group CEO, Diane Radley, says that good corporate governance forms the cornerstone of her business’s responsible investment approach. “As responsible stewards of our clients’ investments, we believe that when you invest to reduce governance risk, the rewards will be greater,” she explains. “We place immense importance on solid governance practices, which result in better operational performance. As such, in supporting the Africa Directors Programme, we hope to significantly enhance the capacity for ethical and effective corporate governance and board leadership for, not only our own executive team, but directorship development across the broader African continent.”

Radley believes that better managed companies are better investments for clients. “By subscribing to these principles, we believe they will enable Old Mutual Investment Group to become the leading example of how to invest responsibly in Africa.”

According to Prof Arnold Smit, Director of the Business in Society Centre of the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development, the programme will offer a great impetus to aspiring and acting directors to exercise responsible board leadership in a complex world.

“Focusing on the director as a person, as a board member and as an organisational custodian, the programme is designed to sharpen those competencies that strengthen integrity and proficiency in the boardroom and earn the trust of society,” he says. “Furthermore, it is an exciting prospect to offer this programme in association with the globally esteemed INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative and Old Mutual Investment Group as a leading role-player in the responsible business movement.”

Radley believes that going forward strong economic growth will be required in emerging markets to ensure social stability. “This growth will be driven by investment and, if it is to be sustainable over the long term, sound corporate governance and investing responsibly will be a priority for both asset managers and asset owners.”

The programme agenda will focus on equipping participants with the skills to exercise the duties of a director with self-awareness, professionalism and sound judgement; as well as contributing
to a board culture characterised by effective collaboration, integrity and sound decision-making.
It will also teach participants to exercise effective board leadership in matters of corporate conformance, performance, strategy and risk management, and to oversee public accountability for sustainable and responsible business development. These themes will be facilitated by a team of governance and leadership experts consisting of Prof Deon Rossouw, Richard Foster and Lynn McGregor.

The inaugural programme will run over three events from 3 August to 18 November 2015 and will certainly be repeated from 2016 onwards. Prof Marc le Menestrel of the INSEAD Corporate Governance Initiative and Prof Arnold Smit of USB-ED will act as co-directors, ensuring that the participants’ programme journey is meaningful and well integrated from a personal and professional development point of view.