Pandemic Fuels Demand for Corporate Governance Training in GCC Region, Says GCC Board Directors Institute

  • Membership of GCC BDI Surges to 2,000
  • 38% Increase in Number of Companies Seeking to Benefit from Best Corporate Governance Practices Over Previous Year

Riyadh-Saudi Arabia: The GCC Board Directors Institute (GCC BDI) has announced a rise in its membership to 2,000 post-COVID-19, a 38 per cent increase over the previous year. The numbers clearly imply that more organisations in the region are now seeking to streamline their operations and instil best practices among their Boards of Directors to optimise efficiencies and institutionalise an organisation-wide culture of corporate governance.

GCC BDI members have been benefiting from expanded membership services during 2020. These include study trips, access to a listing on the Directors Register, a pool of independent directors and senior executives from a cross-section of industries and professions, and the Board Opportunities service, which enables companies to recruit suitable independent directors to their own boards.

Significantly, members can also benefit from the new GCC BDI Mentorship Programme. This   encourages a culture of learning and allows them to acquire insights from more experienced directors, take ownership of their personal and professional development, and thereby enhance their leadership skills.

Speaking on the upturn in membership, Jane Valls, Executive Director, GCC BDI, said: “As we continue to navigate a post-pandemic world, it is increasingly clear that only through placing a strong emphasis on corporate governance, corporate culture and long-term purpose and strategic vision can organisations in the region hope to survive and thrive today. The Board of Directors in every organisation sets the tone at the top and the strategic direction. Board effectiveness and board leadership are now more important than ever to ensure resilience and sustainability and long-term value creation”.

Echoing her sentiment, Adel Mallawi, Chief Investment Officer, Banque Saudi Fransi, a new member of GCC BDI, said: “Joining GCC BDI was a significant career move for me. It has given me the confidence in the Boardroom and enabled me as a director to look at strategies from a different perspective and assess the effectiveness of control functions and risk management. Another great added value is the ability to analyse the composition of various committees in place and understand if they have the right people on them. Also, to understand if the Board is well-constituted in terms of inclusivity and diversity.”

Dr Basmah Omair, Founder/CEO, Behavioral Management Consulting, said: “GCC BDI has helped me learn more about the changing Saudi regulations affecting the roles of Board of Directors through comparing them to international best practices. In addition, learning from the various experiences of my peers across sectors has given me a wider understanding of how core issues can be addressed differently and how the hidden grey areas can be tackled.”

She commends the support received from GCC BDI during the pandemic via the webinars it organised and said they were extremely relevant and important in allowing members the opportunity to benchmark with one another and realise during the crisis that no one had the right answer. Through listening to experts and sharing challenges, each found their own formula to advance. 

For her part, Alicia Anne Culbert, esteem member of GCC BDI, said: “I have gained an in-depth understanding of board governance and best board practices. Training both in-class and online has allowed participants to share challenges as well as experiences and best practices, which have also been part of the professional development experience. Working with GCC BDI has ‘levelled up’ my knowledge and capabilities on effective corporate governance, and there has been an improvement in the day-to-day approach to decision making within my immediate role.”

She noted that in a rapidly evolving environment with transforming technology, skills, and regulations, business scope and corporate structures are also constantly in flux. Organisations such as GCC BDI enable members to stay on top of evolving policies and expectations from Boards of Directors and prepare for the disruptions and new roles that the pandemic and similar events continue to bring.

About the GCC Board Directors Institute:

Launched in 2007, the GCC Board Directors Institute (GCC BDI) is an independent not-for-profit organisation that helps board directors of entities, from family-owned businesses to listed companies, acquire the know-how and tools to achieve and sustain effective governance.

GCC BDI was founded by eight leading regional corporations and professional services firms: Saudi Aramco, SABIC, Emirates NBD, Investcorp, McKinsey & Company, Allen & Overy, Heidrick & Struggles and PwC. The institute is supported by the regional regulatory authorities, including the Securities and Commodities Authority of the UAE, the Capital Market Authority and Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority of Saudi Arabia, the Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority of Kuwait, the Central Bank of Bahrain, and the Capital Market Authority of Oman.