AIB Welcomes Steven Burrell as an Industry Guest Lecturer in Corporate Governance

AIB Welcomes Steven Burrell as an Industry Guest Lecturer in Corporate Governance


The Governance Institute of Australia is the only independent professional association in the country with a sole focus on whole-of-organisation governance. We’re pleased to announce that AIB has partnered with the Institute and its CEO Steven Burrell to inject practical governance insights into our curriculum.

Steven joined the Governance Institute of Australia in 2015, bringing with him significant experience and expertise in governance, advocacy and strategy from his time with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Steven also worked as a journalist for almost 25 years at the Australian Financial Review and the Sydney Morning Herald, covering mainly business, economics and public policy. During that time, he won both a Walkley Award and the Pan Asian Journalist of the Year Award for his business and economics reporting. Steven holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney and is a graduate of the General Management Program at the Melbourne Business School and the AICD Company Directors Course.

Good governance is good business

Governance goes to the very core of every organisation, and when effective, enables them to meet their strategic aims. Simply put, good governance is good business, but there are a number of different factors that direct and inform it.

On the four pillars that inform governance guidelines, Steven explains, “They are transparency, accountability, stewardship and integrity. They inform governance codes right around the world, and apply equally to not-for-profits, SMEs, public sector and listed entities.”

Expanding on these key four pillars:

–       Transparency is being very clear and unambiguous about what’s happening in the company, both to external stakeholders and people within the organisation.

–       Accountability allows people to know where the buck stops so that they’re clear both on who has the authority to make certain calls and what the consequences are.

–       Stewardship recognises that as a manager or director of an organisation, you are working for the benefit of shareholders and taking in the legitimate interests of other stakeholders.

–       Integrity underpins an organisation and sets the culture for the people working within it.

Good governance adds value throughout an organisation, all the way down to the bottom line. Steven explains, “As well as providing the right decision-making framework and reputation management framework, good governance gives shareholders and stakeholders confidence that the organisation is being run well, which assists in attracting capital.”

Critical to good governance is the separation of roles between the board, directors and management. While some companies find that the roles blur, Steven is adamant that a bold line should be enforced. For that reason, he’s not an advocate of CEO duality, where the CEO also functions as the chair.

When recruiting for board directors, Steven advises looking for people who demonstrate independent judgement above all else. Just as the board should be independent of management, it’s imperative that the directors also be free of influences or interests that will affect their independent and objective judgement. For that reason, recruiting from outside the company is often safer than appointing an insider. Steven speaks of the balance to be struck between ensuring that directors have an intimate understanding of the company while retaining an objective view. Board members are there to set the tone rather than write the rules at a granular level. Their role is to ensure that oversight is in place, to set up a risk management framework and establish the company’s appetite for risk, and then to step back and let management do the job.

With distrust in our large corporations and public institutions at an all-time high, there’s a public need for good governance. “There is a lot of work to be done,” says Steven, with a message that applies to boards and C-suites alike. “There is a job to be done both rebuilding trust but also building ethical frameworks. They need to be rethought, rebuilt, and that connection and trust need to be re-established.

With Steven at the helm of the Governance Institute of Australia, the issue is in good hands. We look forward to introducing Steven’s expertise to our corporate governance students.

Get to know AIB’s Industry Partners and growing team of exceptional Industry Guest Lecturers here.  

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