Take on the board

Person on the edge of a springboardBCS has launched a new qualification for CIOs and any other senior IT workers who want to push their career to a higher boardroom level. Henry Tucker reports.

Too often CIOs and senior IT professionals have failed to reach the boardroom because of a lack of non-technical skills, or a perception that they are separate to the core business.
In reality, technology is the driving force behind all modern organisations from public bodies to multi-nationals.

IT professionals should be respected for their contribution to business goals and aspire to directorship. The Institute of Directors (IoD) / BCS Diploma in Company Direction not only covers the core issues faced by every director, but also those within functional areas for which they may not have had previous responsibility.

Delivered by business experts, the programme aims to provide IT directors and aspiring IT professionals - both BCS members and non-members - with the leadership and strategic skills that are essential for effective board performance.

The IoD / BCS Diploma in Company Direction reflects the issues and concerns facing senior level IT directors, covering the key areas in which directors and leaders must be competent.
The programme will provide participants with:

  • a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a director
  • the confidence and knowledge required to successfully lead at director level
    a greater understanding of the key areas in which directors and leaders must be competent
  • the opportunity to network with other delegates made up from senior executives and directors
  • phased course modules spread over several months to ensure both work and learning demands can be managed effectively
  • a route to chartered director status – the benchmark standard for directors.

All candidates are also eligible to one years' membership of the IoD on enrolment.

David Clarke, Chief Executive, BCS said, "what we need now is to prepare people to become leaders, not just managers, and to equip them with the wider leadership and strategic skills that are essential for effective board performance and operations. We see this as a fantastic opportunity to combine the BCS's representation of professionalism in IT with the insight into board governance as provided by the IoD."

The programme is designed to be completed in approximately nine months. Within this time the learning process requires that participants attend 13 study days covering eight modules, with an additional two revision sessions and two home study days, and sit two exams.

Each of the modules is given by an IoD expert trainer and they cover a wide variety of topics. These include: the role of the company director and the board, which explains how a board should operate by enabling you to:

  • understand key duties, roles and responsibilities of directors, corporate governance and the board's role
  • distinguish the crucial differences between management, direction and ownership
  • understand how to help improve board effectiveness.

The financial aspect of being a director is a challenging one, particularly if you don't have a background in finance. Therefore three days are set aside for this alone. Led by Jean Pousson, lecturer and consultant specialising in banking, finance and strategy this module emphasises the role that finance plays in supporting agreed strategies and monitoring performance. It covers:

  • evaluating the sources of finance available and their relative advantages
  • understanding and interpreting the terminology used in finance
  • compiling financial statements in accordance with accounting principles and standards
  • distinguishing between management accounts and the statutory financial reports of a company
  • evaluating and monitoring the financial health of a business
  • developing project appraisal skills using discounted cash flow techniques

Other areas that are covered include the director and the law which explores the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of a director. Also included is a day on effective marketing strategies giving an overview of the principles of marketing strategy, looking at why marketing is important, how marketing strategies are devised, implemented and controlled in order to create customer value and improve the company's market performance.

The price for non-BCS members is £8,000 ex VAT, but the course is available to BCS members at a special rate of £7,150 ex VAT. The price includes enrolment and tuition fees,
all course materials, refreshments and lunch on study days. Applicants must pay for the whole programme in advance. Examination fees will cost £607 ex VAT.

All study days will be held at the BCS London office in Southampton Street. Study days commence at 9am and finish at 5pm. Complimentary refreshments will be available throughout the day and a buffet lunch in the afternoon.

July 2007