Decision-makers in corporations today have a very large area of responsibilities and obligations.
Besides considering the interests of customers, employees and shareholders, they must also take into account their company's role in the community and ensure that it takes a positive role in protecting the environment. The proper orchestration of such diverse tasks requires good corporate governance so that a transparent, efficient and fair system of decision-making is kept firmly in place.
In view of this, Hong Kong Baptist University's School of Business is offering a Master of Science in Corporate Governance and Directorship (MScCGD) programme to equip executives, professionals and corporate leaders with cutting-edge knowledge and skills in corporate governance and an integrated perspective to strengthen their leadership.
Emphasising the significance of corporate governance, Raymond Chan, director, MScCGD programme, School of Business, Hong Kong Baptist University, says, "Good corporate governance is no longer just a slogan but a roadmap to corporate success. Poor corporate governance may lead to crises and scandals which hinder development of a corporation or even cause its collapse. The benefits of stakeholders should be the primary concern of management."
The MScCGD programme is tailored for middle to top management executives including board secretaries, fund managers, risk managers, lawyers, chief financial officers and chief executive officers, he points out.
"Many aspects of this programme distinguish it from others. It is the first taught programme of its kind in Hong Kong that provides participants with highly specialised and practical knowledge on, for example, regulatory compliance and executive performance measurement and reward strategies. By contrast, many other business programmes focus on enhancing the analytical abilities of participants in the general sense," Professor Chan stresses.
Knowledge essential for efficient directorship is widely covered by the programme. It includes principles and models of corporate governance, the legal framework and codes of corporate governance, board structure, process and leadership and corporate reporting; and disclosure and transparency. The knowledge and skills gained can help executives resolve common challenges faced by businesses today such as staff churn, shareholder disputes and the need for additional funding and investment. Participants will be shown how to achieve practical solutions to build or maintain a system of good corporate governance with a sound accounting system, good employer-employee relationships and competitive human resources, all of them conforming to a clear and transparent legal framework.
Wealth of experience
The 2007/08 academic year will mark the fourth intake of the programme. Since being launched in 2005, the programme has attracted about 100 professionals and senior executives, all seasoned practitioners able to contribute insightful opinions to group discussions. They had a wealth of experience to call on, comprising corporation or company directors, CEOs, senior accounting or finance professionals, company secretaries and practising lawyers. "The rich background of previous participants in the programme ensured a wide variety of valuable views during the analysis of various cases and scenarios, which forms a significant part of the programme and makes it a fruitful learning experience," Professor Chan notes.
Besides offering effective peer learning opportunities, the programme includes the inspirational input of prominent leaders in the community. From time to time legislators, accounting and finance experts, and internationally renowned researchers are invited to deliver lectures on topical corporate governance issues. These seminars and forums are well-received by students, who can gain up-to-date market information from the speakers. Moreover, the programme is led by a faculty with admirable backgrounds in accounting and legal affairs.
One of the main goals of the programme is to raise the overall standard of corporate governance in Hong Kong, according to Professor Chan. To the benefit of the community, its students share this vision, as shown by 25 students from the first intake who took the initiative to found the Corporate Governance and Directorship (HKBU) Society. The society has become a platform for knowledge exchange, helping with the advancement of research, learning, teaching and practice in the related fields. The society has also served to extend the programme from an academic programme to a learned body aimed at promoting corporate governance standards across the region.
Like many other postgraduate study programmes for busy executives, the MScCGD programme involves part-time studies. Classes are held on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons. Participants must complete a total of nine work subjects plus one integrated project. There are two options concerning the awarding of qualifications. Completing all nine subjects and the project leads to the awarding of a master's degree. Alternatively, one can choose to complete any five of the nine subjects and so qualify for a postgraduate diploma jointly issued by HKBU's School of Business and the Hong Kong Institute of Directors (HKIoD). Graduates are on the fast track when applying for professional membership of the HKIoD.