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The Role of Technology at a Board Level with Cate Jolley, CEO of Effective Governance

CEO of Effective Governance, part of HopgoodGanim Advisory Group, Cate Jolley has over 20 years of commercial and legal experience, advising directors, chairs and CEO’s in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Cate’s expertise in effective governance helps identify and support clients’ board and organisational governance to ensure they are fulfilling their board roles, director duties, independent reviews and improving compliance.

With cybersecurity being one of the most important compliance issues facing boards and corporate governance, Cate and the team from Effective Governance offer consultancy services in IT risk management and awareness.

We met with Cate to discuss the role of technology and the importance of cyber security in effective governance for boards and organisations:

What are your qualifications and experience prior to working in effective governance and corporate governance advisory?

I am a Nationally Accredited Mediator and have a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws.

For the last 4 years, I have worked in the effective governance arm of the HopgoodGanim Advisory group, with the last two years as CEO of Effective Governance. Before beginning this, I spent over 20 years working in senior executive and consultancy roles with a focus on commercial and legal industries.

Who is Effective Governance?

Effective Governance is the governance practice arm of the HopgoodGanim Advisory Group.

HopgoodGanim Advisory Group is one of the largest and oldest advisory firms in Australia. Our effective governance team of seven provide consultancy services to several charities, boards and directors nationally and internationally.

The governance and risk advisory services we provide include cybersecurity risk assessments, board and director reviews, governance roadmaps and board maturity frameworks, strategic planning and facilitation, risk governance and more.

What do you do at Effective Governance?

As CEO, I work with a team of governance and risk advisors who have expertise in law and business leadership.

Having long-term relationships with our clients is important to us. For many of our clients, we conduct a review every 2 years for all shareholders, with health check-ins, cyber security and climate risk assessments and compliance and advisory services.

Our governance consultancy services help our clients ensure they are fulfilling their board roles, director duties, and independent reviewers. We also help our clients improve their compliance and work out how their board can perform as best as possible.

We go up and beyond for our clients. We make sure that the recommendations are completed and our clients are supported at every stage. Our client base is large, ranging from public and private companies, charities and NFPs (not-for-profit entities) and government entities.

What is your favourite part about working at Effective Governance?

I really appreciate the opportunity to work with clever people. I’m someone who is always striving to learn more, so being trusted with confidential information, and internal processes, identifying gaps, offering advice, and researching industry and competitors is fascinating.

How do you use technology in your role?

At HopgoodGanim, we are committed to ensuring that we are leaders in technology safety and delivery. We have a full in-house IT department who are constantly scanning the market to make sure we implement best practices, not only for our workplace but to offer solutions and recommendations to our clients.

We strategise the best time and ways to communicate effectively with directors. If they are looking for IT risk management solutions, we will suggest and organise an IT expert to deliver to the board. We consider the best fit IT team and specialists by taking into account the board’s maturity, size, attendees and their options in terms of cyber security.

What is your experience with technology at a board level?

We use several different technologies in our everyday practices. At HopgoodGanim, we deal with a lot of private and secure information every day and it’s vital we protect our client’s data. For product delivery, we provide surveys that are distributed as confidential links via emails to make sure that all correspondence and document delivery are secure.

Safety and privacy are one of our biggest priority and our in-house IT team are here to ensure that all information is protected from cyber-attacks and risk.

How important is cyber security for organisations?

Cyber security has never been more essential for boards and directors. In nearly every review we have conducted in the last 18 months, cyber security has been 1st or 2nd on the critical importance list.

Organisations are responsible for the security of their information and having a crisis management plan to minimise cyber risks and attack is critical. Crisis management plans aren’t ‘set and forget’. Cyber threats are constantly adapting and changing, so an organisation’s management plan needs to be agile and regularly updated and reviewed.

What are the questions you ask boards and directors in your cyber risk and cyber-attack management processes?

When we are trying to uncover IT inefficiencies for boards and directors, we will always ask these questions:

  • What capabilities do we have for responding to a cyberattack? What weaknesses would hinder our responsiveness?
  • What can we do now to improve our responsiveness to an attack?
  • What is our plan for business continuity in case of a cyberattack?
  • How do we build an organisational structure that is dynamic enough to respond to different types of attacks?
  • Who should be a part of our crisis management team?
  • What new strategic opportunities will be created if we improved our technology and resourcing capabilities for cyber-responsiveness?

What is some IT advice you offer boards and directors?

When we assess a board’s performance and conformance, we undergo a cyber risk and strategy management process to evaluate and identify their inefficiencies and risk appetite. We identify gaps in their policies and current strategies and look at the best ways to address these issues by considering where the risks are coming from and how they will impact the organisation.

Does the organisation have the right skills and people to implement the right technologies in their business? If not, we will make recommendations as to how to move forward and an IT team that will best fit their industry.

What do you think boards need to improve their technology uses?

During Covid, most boards and directors had to move all their practices online. Incorporating collaborative tools and video conferencing tools, such as Microsoft Teams, has become industry standard. I think moving forward, technology usage for boards will increase in nearly every way. Presentations and documentation sharing will become more agile and secure too.

Where do you see technology heading for effective governance in the future?

In the future, I think we will see more age diversity across boards, which will bring a more contemporary approach to technology usage and consumption. We will also see more boards adopt directors with cybersecurity and ESG expertise – areas that are vastly important to companies moving forward.

How can tech companies build up and support female employees in the industry?

With more education and platforms for women in tech, a lot of doors will open in the industry. Reaching out through education sectors at a senior school level, and inspiring young women through role diversity in the tech industry will benefit women choosing IT roles.

Getting inspired by female ambassadors and industry leaders, in a supportive environment will show women the abilities and opportunities working in the tech industry has to offer.

When you’re not hard at work, what do you find yourself doing?

I am a mum to four teenagers- which keeps my hands full! But more personally, I am a lover of the ocean. I’m either at the beach or partaking in ocean swims.

Want to implement collaborative tools and improve cyber security for your business?

Contact the Cloud Voice & Data team today and empower your business through technology. Learn more about Effective Governance or book a free 30-minute consultation with CVD

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