Company Directors Course tailored to Cook Islands context

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Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce and Cook Islands Investment Corporation have joined forces and engaged with New Zealand Institute of Directors to host the Company Directors’ Course, taking place at the Rarotongan Beach Resort this week.

The New Zealand Institute of Directors (IoD) is the professional body for directors and is at the heart of New Zealand’s governance community.

They support and enable directors to add value to their organisations and wider communities and prepare them to positively transform the future.

The Company Directors’ Course is the benchmark for directors and senior leaders who report to boards.

The course spans a comprehensive five-and-a-half days, and there are 21 participants at the Rarotongan Beach Resort representative of the Chamber Board, private sector, Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) Board and its State Owned Enterprise Board Directors. The course leaders are experienced IoD facilitators and include Caren Rangi (a professional director and proud Cook Islander) and Craig Rust (an expert business advisor and Chartered Accountant).

Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce chairperson Addrienne Hosking says, “The Chamber Board is fully behind this course, and developing a broader relationship with the IoD.”

She also shared that “this was an excellent example of the private business sector and Government partnering to optimise our economy through delivery of gold standard governance and director training.” She also shared that the “Chamber sought expressions of interest last month about the course, and there was great interest, for this course and future courses.”

Each day, participants will take part in board simulation exercises, bringing to life case studies that highlight the unpredictable nature of business and the human nature of directorship.

Objectives include improving decision-making ability in the boardroom.

Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) chairperson Fletcher Melvin says the benefits of this course extend far beyond governance skill building.

“This specific Company Directors’ Course has been tailored to a Cook Islands context – it is targeted at our Cook Islands landscape, our legislation and our customs (not New Zealand’s),” Mr Melvin says.

“The training is aimed at increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the SOEs and is one part of our ongoing aim to upskill Cook Islanders.”

Divided into two parts, the first part of the course is a facilitated session covering the foundations of Governance and Knowledge.

The second part of the Company Directors’ Course includes workshops in Best Practice Corporate Governance, Strategy in the Boardroom, Finance and the Board’s Role, Directors and the Law, Board Dynamics and Culture and Risk Governance.

Mr Melvin says both the Chamber and CIIC have in recent years invested heavily in the development of its directors and executives in the private and public sector.

“CIIC has invested significantly into best practice corporate governance practices over the last few years,” he says.

Since 2018, Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) has delivered a range of governance director training sessions as part of its commitment to better practices within Crown entity boards.

Partnering with the Chamber and the IoD is a natural progression in director development, Mr Melvin says.

“Our directors manage significant portfolios and having directors equipped with best practice knowledge is critical for our entities to thrive and deliver for the Cook Islands people.”

Juanita Hudson, IoD Professional Development Advisor, says the IoD is also looking at hosting courses for New Zealand-based directors.

This will most likely be a partnership between IoD, Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce and Cook Islands Tourism.

Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce and the IoD will also be exploring the establishment of a branch in the Cook Islands, so the best resources and support are available to support governance development in the country.

Ms Hudson said the cost per person is significantly less than if attendees were to attend a course in New Zealand.

Mrs Hosking said, “the Chamber was able to secure funding assistance from Business Link Pacific (BLP) business grants and subsidies, in place to support SMEs in the Pacific Islands with local services and funding to improve their economic, social and environmental outcomes.”

These grants and subsidies are funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Mrs Hosking extended her thanks to BLP and MFAT. Mr Melvin said, “the cost of the course for CIIC and its state owned enterprises attendees were funded from existing governance and professional development budgets.”

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