Vinotha Anthony, who was recently announced as one of the winners of the Governance HOT 100 Team Leaders category for 2023, sat down with David Press to discuss her achievements and her career journey to date.
Vinotha is currently the Deputy Company Secretary at Funding Circle UK, where she has been for the past two years. Prior to this, she worked at the IFG group.
1. How did you become a company secretary/governance professional?
I completed a degree in Law and Accountancy and began my career working as a paralegal gaining experience in law firms. I came across the governance profession while working in corporate law as I liaised frequently with a corporate secretarial service provider and from there, I learned what the work involved and became instantly attracted to it as a potential career. I started to develop my company secretarial skills whilst working as a paralegal before deciding to pursue company secretarial work as my profession.
I landed my first company secretarial role with InfraRed Capital Partners. I was an Assistant Company Secretary in a small team of two which gave me immediate access to a wide variety of company secretarial work. I was given a lot of responsibility quickly and really enjoyed it - no single day was the same. I quickly learned how companies were run and how decisions were being made. I particularly enjoyed being a key part of helping businesses to do the right thing by ensuring compliance with the rules, regulations and guidance that they were subject to. Governance is something that I have a real passion for and am a huge advocate of the profession.
2. What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
My biggest career achievement was in my role at IFG Group plc, where I progressed rapidly from Assistant Company Secretary to Company Secretary with the encouragement and faith of my then-manager. I handled all the company secretarial work in relation to a scheme of arrangement for IFG Group plc to be bought out by a private equity company. This involved numerous board meetings, additional shareholder meetings, organising the de-listing of IFG in both the UK and Ireland, and concluded with the closure of its head office. I really felt like I had been thrown straight into the deep end in my first role as Company Secretary, but the experience of completing the work was really exciting and may have been a once in a career experience, which I am grateful to have had.
3. Looking ahead, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the governance profession?
The governance profession is faced with so many challenges as the legal, regulatory, and political environment continues to evolve. Increased scrutiny on governance failures and more focus on ESG are among some of the matters companies are increasingly being held accountable for. Regulators and investors are demanding more from boards on disclosure; actions on ESG; climate change and robust, meaningful discussions and decisions on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As such, more is expected from both boards and investors, who need to demonstrate effective stewardship when they exercise their responsibilities on behalf of a variety of stakeholders.
All this indicates that the role of the governance profession will continue to widen in scope. This also means that there is a challenge for smaller teams in particular to continue to drive efficiencies and add value, and consider how the additional work can be distributed whether that is through subject matter experts in areas such as ESG or larger budgets to allow for more resources.
I believe raising the profile of the governance profession within an organisation to help businesses understand just how much value the profession brings is something every governance professional should try to promote within their roles.
4. What does winning in this category mean to you?
I am honored to be recognised externally in the Team Leader category. Investing in people and helping them progress their careers within the governance profession is something I am really passionate about. I think it’s really important to share knowledge and provide support to the next generation of governance professionals. I am also particularly mindful of the pressures the role can bring and the importance of mental health and well-being. I have achieved what I have because of the support and guidance from managers that I have worked with, as well as amazing team members that have helped me to grow into the team leader that I am today. Winning this category means that the effort that I have put into this area has been recognised.