This month’s interview in the NextGen Governance column, featuring younger members of the profession, is with Rain Lam ACG HKACG, Senior Officer, Secretarial of Legal and Risk Management Department, Orient Overseas (International) Ltd.
What is your current role and what was your career path to this role?
‘I studied finance at City University of Hong Kong. By sheer coincidence, I joined a company secretarial team as an intern in a professional services firm. This year I joined Orient Overseas (International) Ltd, a listed company whose principal activities are in container transport and logistics services. Our department includes both corporate and listing teams. My main task is to assist the listing team with annual compliance requirements, such as preparing for the annual general meeting, interim reports and board meetings. I have discovered that there are many more things involved in this profession – and that it is more important – than I had previously imagined. Corporate governance is similar to the role of airport customs. Each decision can be considered as a piece of luggage in which the governance professional acts as the baggage scanner. If there is anything inappropriate from a governance perspective, or does not comply with regulations, we will intercept that baggage and examine how to handle the situation, ensuring proper control.’
When did you first hear the terms ‘company secretary’ and ‘governance’? What was your impression of these terms?
‘I first heard about the role of a company secretary from my father. He knows my personality well and thought that I would be suited to the position because it follows a systematic and orderly approach. He had seen news reports mentioning that this career has good prospects. When I was choosing my university major, I also considered enrolling in related courses but in the end I didn’t pursue it. As for corporate governance, I used to think it was something only top-level executives would be involved in.’
What qualities do you think are needed to be a successful governance professional?
‘The field of corporate governance is very complex as it involves various types of business relationships and constantly evolving rules. With each new update there are new challenges. First, it is important to have an open mind when it comes to learning new things. For example, many documents are now transitioning to a paperless format and the formalities of work have changed. If you don’t keep up with learning, you will quickly fall behind. Second, attention to detail is crucial because the industry itself does not tolerate errors. One must be diligent in ensuring everything is accurate.’
What was your chosen route to complete the Institute’s qualifying programme and what advice would you give to people who are considering qualifying as a Chartered Secretary and Chartered Governance Professional?
‘I chose the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme examinations for two main reasons, the first being flexibility in terms of time and the second being the higher cost effectiveness compared with taking a master’s degree. Besides, there are also many resources available from the Institute that can assist us in preparing for the exams, making the learning process much more effective. Furthermore, I believe that to be an outstanding company secretary you should have a well-rounded education, which requires additional expertise beyond that of pure corporate governance. If I undertake further studies, I would therefore choose related disciplines.’
As a member of the younger generation, how do you think governance will evolve in the future and would you recommend a career in governance to others?
‘I believe that the future will undoubtedly be characterised by digitisation and even AI integration. In the corporate secretarial field, hybrid meetings, online voting and paperless operations have already become the norm. It is possible that in the future AI could integrate real-time data to expedite the process of risk management and decision-making. However, this industry will not disappear as there are certain insights that AI cannot provide. We will contribute to the company’s decisions by offering perspectives that are both objective and subjective.’
“it is possible that in the future AI could integrate real-time data to expedite the process of risk management and decision-making”
Rain Lam ACG HKACG
Senior Officer, Secretarial of Legal and Risk Management Department, Orient Overseas (International) Ltd
您第一次听到 ‘公司秘书’或 ‘公司治理’是什么时候？您当时对这些专业名词有什么印象？