A company secretary holds a strategic position within an organisation. This important governance role supports the Board ensuring that it is well run for the benefit of all stakeholders, such as executive management, shareholders, employees, customers and the investment community.
The benefits that come with the role are becoming increasingly popular with young professionals in Ireland considering their career path, says legal recruitment manager Laura Tierney. "This career will take you to into the boardroom, to the heart of the organisation, with a view across everything it does. To the highest levels of decision-making and influence.” We speak to Laura about becoming a company secretary, the job market in Ireland and the opportunities and challenges that come with the role.
What training should you follow?
“One of the first steps to taking on the role of company secretary is getting a degree or relevant professional qualification in business, law, accountancy or public administration. The main qualification needed to achieve ‘Chartered’ status and become a full member of ICSA:The Governance Institute (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators), is the ICSA qualifying programme which requires a relevant degree holder to pass seven examinations. For accountancy and legal degree holders, a further exemption may be possible reducing the requirement to six. You can also pursue a master’s degree run here in Dublin in Marino through the University of Ulster’s two year part time MSc Management and Corporate Governance course.
While some professionals may be concerned by the need for additional academic study, it is worth considering that this qualification can be completed part time, with students gaining valuable experience in a related role while studying.”
What skills do you need?
“The role of the company secretary is varied, with a range of responsibilities that provide an interesting career for the right person. You will need a diverse range of skills including:
- An interest in, or knowledge of, company law and/or governance
- Excellent communication skills – both spoken and written
- The ability to influence colleagues at senior levels
- Strong attention to detail
- Can take in and process large amounts of information
- The ability to keep information confidential
- Highly-organised and can manage time.”
How can you climb the career ladder?
“After completing your qualification and training of around 2 to 3 years, you can begin to look for company secretary assistant roles which typically offer a salary of around €40,000.
Typically, professionals tend to begin their careers in professional services firms, gaining valuable experience before moving into other sectors such as PLCs and financial services. It is also commonly seen that company secretaries make the move from practice to an in-house role, with few professionals choosing to make the move between practices.”
How is the current job market in Ireland for company secretaries?
“Actually one of the most appealing aspects of the company secretarial route right now is the widespread availability of roles. Training contracts have become more widely available as the economic situation has recovered. With more legal graduates following the route of becoming a solicitor and with the Companies Acts now in place, there is a high demand for candidates to fill company secretary positions.
Furthermore, as companies take a growing interest in establishing or expanding operations in Dublin, driven in particular by Brexit, these opportunities are only likely to increase in number.”
And what about opportunities abroad?
“Coming from an overseas background can be challenging because for many Irish companies an understanding of the Irish legal system is paramount.
However after having gained experience with an Irish firm, gaining further experience overseas, particularly in jurisdictions with similar legal systems is definitely a plus. Working in countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and Canada can help set you apart from the competition. As well as giving you the opportunity to take your career abroad if that’s your ambition.”
Are you looking for a company secretary role in Ireland? Get in touch with Laura Tierney here or view our latest company secretary roles.