UK: David Lock: The Importance Of Serving With Integrity

Last Updated: 14 August 2018
Article by Henry Ker

The master of the WCCSA discusses his time helping to rebuild higher education systems after conflict in Iraq and Libya, and the work of the WCCSA in supporting the company secretarial profession

David Lock FCIS is master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (WCCSA), one of the modern livery companies of the City of London.

He has spent his career in higher education administration, with the Universities of Huddersfield and Hull, before moving on to establish and lead the British University in Dubai, and is now secretary general of the Magna Carta Observatory.

Are there unique governance challenges for the higher education sector?

The main challenge comes from their democracy. The stronger universities in the world are autonomous and have academic freedom, but at the same time have to serve their stakeholders and comply with the law.

It is the governance function that enables that to happen in a secure way. It is the democracy, and the expected transparency, which can make it more challenging to make difficult decisions in universities.

With transparency, there is a very difficult balance to be struck. As a member of the leadership team of a university, you want to reach decisions that are right for all of your stakeholders, which is a challenging thing to do. Where people's jobs are involved, it is sometimes difficult to give as much information as people would like, as early as they would like to have it.

Total transparency could compromise the consideration process. Meaningful and honest consultation with all of the stakeholders involved is a better solution. I have been involved in the making of some quite difficult decisions and have found that this approach works.

You have led higher education work in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya. Can you talk us through this?

The common feature in all the countries is they wanted to improve their higher education systems, and in the case of Libya and Iraq, they wanted to rebuild their higher education systems after conflict.

In Libya, all the leaders of the universities that had been loyal to Colonel Gadhafi had either left the country after his death, or were dead themselves.

A number of universities had been closed for two years and the need existed to build sufficient leadership capacity for the universities to reopen and to start to rebuild and deliver full benefit to Libya. The British Council was asked to assist with this and I was asked to design and deliver a programme and to go there to work with 45 potential leaders.

"There were bullet holes in the buildings, but the enthusiasm was phenomenal"

It was one of the most exhilarating projects I have ever worked on. Yes, there were bullet holes in the buildings we were working in, but we were warmly welcomed and the enthusiasm among the participants was just phenomenal.

When the potential university leaders presented to the two ministers at the end of the programme, I found myself defending the ministers from what was a substantial, and almost impossible, list of demands, trying to moderate some realism into the process. But I made a lot of friends. Things continue to be difficult in Libya, but they are making good progress.

There was a similar situation in Iraq. The Iraq war did terrible things to the higher education system, and the UK offered to help Iraq rebuild it. We put together a programme, which was partly delivered in the UK and partly delivered in Iraq, where we worked with small teams, two or three people, from seven universities, some of them based near Baghdad and some of them from Kurdistan.

The impact of the programme was pretty substantial. In the Baghdad area, after the programme, the ministry had confidence to invest significantly in the universities in terms of infrastructure, and other ways.

In Kurdistan, they took a different approach. They replicated our programme and delivered it to all the universities in Kurdistan. They then devolved more powers from the ministry to universities. They adopted a different approach to quality assurance and the effect on people working in the universities was extremely positive.

Again, there was a lot of energy in the programme to deliver things, even when we were working in secure rooms underground. We worked with them on and off for about a year and the change in that year was noticeable.

Are there any lessons you have taken from this to bring back to higher education in other countries that may not have gone through conflict?

First, good leadership is vital, and the development of leadership capacity at a relatively early stage of professionals' careers is a very wise investment, because it builds a strategic sense. It makes people aware of the wider purpose of what they are doing. It makes them more aware of their strengths, weaknesses, capabilities as leaders and how to work effectively in teams.

It may be several years before people take on significant, top-level responsibility but, on the way up, they can be sensitive to what their leaders are trying to do and be more helpful as a result. If there had been leadership development deeper down the organisations, there would not have been the need to do quite so much, quite so quickly, with the people who are now leading those institutions.

"the development of leadership capacity at a relatively early stage of professionals' careers is a very wise investment"

Strategic planning is an extremely valuable tool, if used sensitively, by which I mean it is not something to put institutions in straightjackets so they cannot be responsive. It is a great device for agreeing values, involving stakeholders, for monitoring the environment, for honestly assessing where your organisation is and where investment needs to be made for it to achieve its objectives, or otherwise where activities need to be reduced because they are no longer relevant.

What is the Magna Carta Observatory and its purpose?

The Magna Charta Observatory for Higher Education is a global body that is based in the University of Bologna. The organisation followed an event in 1988, when 388 universities from across the world came together in Bologna to sign the Magna Charta Universitatum, which is a short statement of fundamental university values.

Those values are the autonomy of universities, academic freedom, integrity in academic processes and the combination of research and teaching to provide a strong university experience.

The Observatory exists to promote those fundamental higher education values, to help universities which encounter difficulties with those values and to provide workshops and conferences across the globe to help universities assess and then increase the extent to which they are putting those values into practice. Over 800 universities around the world have now signed the Magna Charta.

"The company secretary plays an invaluable role in making sure organisations operate with integrity"

I am currently leading its Living Values Project. We are working with 10 universities in nine different countries to explore the extent to which the values they have adopted are the most appropriate ones for them, the extent to which they are really living them in practice and how to address situations where their values and their practices are not aligned.

Values are at the heart of what we do, not just in higher education but in other bodies too. The art of being able to live those values effectively, will, we think, make universities stronger.

How would you describe the mission of the WCCSA?

The mission is to provide fellowship for senior professionals who are chartered secretaries or in governance roles so as to further the profession, promote high standards in governance and to support educational opportunities.

Members meet and discuss common issues and further their own personal development, while helping to channel their public spiritedness into projects that support both the profession and the performance of individuals. One advantage of the WCCSA is that it attracts people from industry, commerce, education, charities, the health service and local authorities and that provides a rich discourse.

In the past year, we have been addressed by, among others, the Dean of Westminster, a former cabinet secretary, and a well-respected risk professional all of whom have added to our understanding of governance and the importance of integrity. The motto of the WCCSA, which should resonate with all company secretaries is 'service with integrity'.

The number of apprentices is growing and the scope of their programme is widening. WCCSA gives apprentices special insight behind the scenes, in the profession, with companies and other organisations, and the City of London.

Our apprentices were involved in consideration of the reforms being contemplated by ICSA and gave some very valuable feedback from the perspective of people starting out in the profession. This is one example of the way in which ICSA and the WCCSA are working together.

Why is the role of the company secretary so important?

The word 'integrity' is a very important one. The reputation of companies is the most valuable thing they have. It is hard to build a reputation and it is very easy for a reputation to be lost. The company secretary plays an invaluable role in making sure things are done properly and that organisations operate with integrity.

In being sufficiently senior to advise the chairman and the chief executive when they feel something is not being done properly, or could be done in a better way, company secretaries can add enormous value. They contribute professionally and creatively during developments, preserve the reputation and thereby help to build the company.

They are a trusted source of information. They are, or should not be, caught up, in the various politics of an organisation. The role of secretary, brings to companies and organisations a great strength which is valued world-wide.

I have found it to be a great profession. The ICSA qualification is so useful at so many levels. It does not teach you to do everything. But it either teaches you how to do things or what needs to be done, so you know when to get help. When you do, you have the knowledge necessary for very intelligent conversations with the providers of that help.

Interview by Henry Ker, editor of Governance and Compliance

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions