When Morgan Robins- the current President of the Law Students’ Society asked Tim what his career path was to achieve his current role, he surprised everyone. Tim proudly stated ‘I have never had a plan- instead I just chose roles which were interesting and in organisations which have excellent reputations.’

Tim is an accountant by trade and a proud CPA. Interestingly one of the first roles of his career was as a tutor in the UNE Business School. He was employed at UNE from 1978-81 and remembers teaching units such as Accounting 101, Corporate Finance and Management Accounting. Since then Tim has worked as a consultant and investment banker. 

In order to understand Tim Sheehy’s role at The Chartered Governance Institute it is important to explain what governance is.  Essentially it is ‘the organism behind the organisation. It relates to how people interact both internally and externally.’ So the next question is- what is good governance? According to Tim, good governance has four main pillars. ‘These are accountability, transparency, stewardship and integrity. Accountability relates to who is responsible for making things happen. Transparency covers reporting to both internal and external stakeholders.  Stewardship refers to how to steer an organisation to ensure it is around for the long term. Integrity is perhaps self-evident. But if an entity is only complying with what is legal rather than ethical the bar is too low.’  

The Chartered Governance Institute has a physical presence in 9 countries and members in over 70 countries. It is a teaching entity which offers a formal qualifying program (a graduate diploma in Australia) in governance. In terms of the sorts of people who undertake these courses- a typical student in Australia is a 35 year old woman who is looking for a career change. In other countries the demographic can vary. Many students are lawyers who want to move into the corporate sector. Aside from the teaching function, the Institute also has a quality control role. In other words, for professions which are self-regulating, the Institute can help create and maintain good governance practices.

Tim commented on the main governance issues for businesses and entities during the covid crisis. ‘At first the main issue was employee welfare. The other issues which then came to the fore were supply chains, dealing with customers who were under a great deal of stress and changes to the organisation’s business model.’

As you can imagine for those of us in remote, regional and rural areas the issues surrounding good governance are slightly different. First of all there are the ‘tyranny of distance issues.’ The other key problem in terms of good governance in rural areas relate to the fact managers can be too close to their communities. This can create conflict of interest issues. The advantages though are that in smaller communities, it can be easier for people to know who to trust and rely upon.

Thank you Tim for sharing your expertise with the staff and students of UNELaw!