Diverseco CEO Brenton Cunningham Talks About the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course.

25 Jul 2020

Diverseco CEO, director, and co-founder Brenton Cunningham recently completed a “refresher” version of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Course. He spoke to Diverseco’s Marketing & BDM for Automation, Rhett Talley, about the experience.

Brenton Cunningham is a busy man. Whether flying around the country for staff, supplier, and customer meetings across five Australian Capital cities where Diverseco have regional offices, or globetrotting in Asia as Diverseco continues to add new Robotics agencies to its growing solution portfolio, to visiting Singapore to further build the growing Diverseco SEA Pte Ltd business, to vetting companies that might be suitable for acquisition: Brenton keeps a hectic pace.

So, when Brenton mentioned that he’d recently completed the AICD course I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

I asked him, “You’ve been a director and company owner for over twenty years and have acquired numerous companies in that time so what prompted you to take and complete the course now?”

Brenton responded, “In my case I had actually completed the course seventeen years ago but at the time circumstances got in the way and I never quite got the chance to do the assessment. Of course we got very busy in the meantime. The desire to sit the exam had been in the back of my mind ever since then. I would say that the importance of ticking that box for me personally had increased after we amalgamated all of the Diverseco owned companies into the one Diverseco brand over the second half of 2019. Now that the dust has settled a bit, I thought it was a good time finish that task as well.”

“I actually did a 2-day refresher course, and then took and completed the assessment. Of course, it is important to understand that in order to qualify for the refresher you must have completed the full course in the past.”

And what a course it is too. The first company director course run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) was in 1975. Since then about 40,000 have completed the course, which is widely seen as required knowledge for a role as a board director.

The original course follows the facilitator-led and scenario-centric Harvard teaching model and focuses on two key capabilities — judgement and decision making.

It takes five full days to complete, on top of 40 to 50 hours of preparation, mostly reading. Then there’s a 3,000-word assignment, an online quiz, and a written exam which is required to pass the whole thing.

A course pass brings with it the post nominal GAICD, a graduate of the AICD, one level up from member, MAICD, and one down from fellow, FAICD.

The course presenters are all experienced directors. There are ten modules in total:

  • The Role of the Board and the Practice of Directorship
  • Decision Making
  • Directors’ Duties and Responsibilities
  • The Board’s Legal Environment
  • Risk: Issues for Boards
  • Strategy: The Board’s Role
  • Financial Literacy for Directors
  • Driving Financial Performance
  • Achieving Board Effectiveness
  • Learning into Practice

I asked Brenton, “Any changes from the last time you took the course?”

“Certainly there was more focus on areas of governance and ethical responsibility, which was pleasing to see.  There was also more focus on the importance of strategy and corporate culture. As you know, we work hard to foster an ethical and Can Do culture within Diverseco and so I was pleased to see the subject of culture raised to such prominence.”

“Part of the preparation involves the review of numerous AICD case studies which help us to learn from the experiences – both good and bad – of other company directors. This really helps to refine the Director’s judgement and sensitivity to potentially bad decisions.”

“Overall, the course helps Directors to be better prepared to detect warning signs that might otherwise go unnoticed and to act on these before it is too late. One of my goals is to be the best Director I can be, for Diverseco and for the people who work for us. I am also looking to get involved in other company boards and in voluntary board roles where I believe I can make a difference.”

“Having now completed the course I like to think of this as my “graduation” as a Director. I’ve been a company Director for twenty-seven years but I still want to learn and get better at what I do – and drag everyone along on the journey with me.”

“As you know, I’m not about accolades and promoting myself but apparently – and according to the course – certain news about CEO’s is good.”

We agree, Brenton, good news is good to spread. Congratulations on completing the course and finally ticking that box.