Shelagh on governance: published articles

Shelagh-Donnelly-Governance-&-Administration-Training-Copyright-Shelagh-DonnellyIf your career has anything to do with supporting a board of directors, or preparing materials for board review, you’ll want to also know about the Diligent Insights website.

There, Shelagh writes weekly articles on the world of governance. Explore the website, and also check below for a sampling of Shelagh’s articles.

Links to Shelagh’s governance articles

Click on any of the article links below. These represent just a sampling of the broad range of Shelagh’s governance articles you’ll find at Diligent Insights.

Boardroom-courtesy-Drew-Beamer-(@drew_beamer)-on-UnsplashBoard Composition, Duties

  1. Directors’ fiduciary duties
  2. Board recruitment best practices
  3. How to recruit the right board members
  4. Improving diversity in the boardroom
  5. Interlocking directorates and board recruitment

Governance Best Practices

  1. Top five corporate governance best practices
  2. Establishing a social media policy

Corporate Culture

  1. Corporate culture – monitoring and measuring progress

Reputation Management

  1. Corporate reputation management
  2. Best practices for reputation management

CEO Succession Planning

  1. CEO succession planning

Shareholders and Stakeholders

  1. Shareholder and Stakeholder Impact on Long-Term Strategy
  2. Stakeholder interests: are they being met?
  3. How Institutional Shareholders Impact Board Strategy

Stock Market Regulations

  1. Stock market regulations and the board

Corporate Data

  1. The value of corporate data
  2.  How boards should oversee the protection of corporate data

Cannabis Sector

  1. How Canadian cannabis firms should approach corporate governance
  2.  Financial market regulations for Canadian cannabis companies
  3. How Canadian Cannabis firms should handle inancial statements

Canadian Boards

  1. How Canadian boards should be planning for 2020
  2. The changes in corporate governance in Canada
  3. Issues for Canadian boards in 2019

US Boards 

  1. What the Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) cybersecurity sweep means for boards

Looking for governance coaching or training?

Click here to contact Shelagh and discuss your needs.

You’ve recruited someone new to support your board

… and this person has tremendous skills, but little or no exposure to the world of governance. Shelagh can help bring your newcomer up to speed and position her or him for success. That begins by making time to understand your board’s culture, practices and needs, and the organization itself.

With access to whatever scope of governance documents you choose to make available, and interviews with your board chair and CEO, Shelagh will tailor her coaching or training to meet the needs of the individual, your board and organization.

Coaching for those already in the career

Whether initiated by an individual, or on an employer’s recommendation, Shelagh can provide meaningful coaching to help support success in the career. Whether you’re seeking resolution to a single need, a short-term boost or ongoing coaching, let Shelagh know.

You aspire to work with a board of directors

Perhaps you’re an executive assistant who’s not yet worked with a board of directors, but you’re planning to apply (or already have applied) for such a role. If you’d like  coaching on professional development you might undertake, or insights on  governance and the nature of the career, contact Shelagh.

Onsite and remote training  available

When you contact Shelagh, there’s a field for you to let her know if you’d like onsite or remote services.

You’re planning an event for governance professionals

The following represents a sampling of conference presentations Shelagh delivers to help those who support boards of directors become even more proficient and successful. For details on any of the following presentations, click on the “+” sign alongside a topic title. To collapse a presentation abstract, just click “-“.

Have you ever thought about applying your EA skills to a role in which you support a board of directors? Or perhaps you and your executive produce deliverables that wind up in front of a board, and you’d like to better understand the world of governance­­.

The governance career is a great option for experienced professionals who like a challenge. Your work must be accurate and efficient, and you need to be organized, flexible and proactive. A board needs a strategic thinker, and the challenges you face require you to be both diplomatic and solution-focused. If you like growth, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to work with and learn from a number of high achievers.

While some boards require that their staff have paralegal education and experience, others provide opportunities for high performing EAs. Shelagh will share her insights, earned over the course of more than a decade of responsibility for a board and its committees, on this stimulating career path.


  • Working effectively with high achievers
  • Confidence via credibility: intro to governance
  • Inside the role
  • Systems for board management
  • Skillful board and relationship management
You continually strive to perform at a high level in your role, which may involve preparing or polishing some of the materials that ultimately wind up in front of the board of directors. Or perhaps you want to gain strategic insights to ensure you add value as an assistant. In either case, it’s helpful to build your understanding of governance. If you’ve ever wondered how a board functions, or why directors may challenge management and ask questions, this session will provide insights on the strategic nature of governance.

Shelagh, who spent more than a decade in the governance career and writes weekly about governance matters, will walk you through that world. Learn how a board distinguishes its role from that of management as directors bring expertise and oversight to multiple matters – value creation, audits, compliance, disclosure, transparency, risk management, diversity, cybersecurity and other tech issues as well as enterprise, social and corporate governance (ESG) and more. Boards and directors carry significant responsibilities and accountabilities, and they need concise, quality reporting.

Be prepared to enhance your insights on the principles of governance in this climate of stakeholder and shareholder activism, and learn why respectful debates and some healthy tension are signs of good governance. You can also be prepared to apply these insights to communications, presentations and reports you and your principal may prepare – not only materials intended for the board, but also those destined for management and other colleagues.
Expectations of boards are high, and your contributions to the board’s success are also held to a high standard. You need to communicate effectively and produce quality meeting packages in addition to navigating sensitive situations and maintaining confidentiality.

While reporting structures vary, you’re likely accountable to a number of stakeholders. Relationship management skills are key to your success. You’re constantly collaborating with directors, C-level colleagues and their EAs.

Technical skills aside, it’s your emotional and cultural intelligence that help you secure deliverables, produce relevant meeting packages in a timely manner and gain stakeholders’ respect. We'll look at relationships and expectations, and getting the job done through influence rather than authority. We'll also focus on establishing and maintaining credibility, trust and confidence through the quality of your communications, meetings and board packages.

  • Rising expectations
  • Establishing and maintaining credibility, trust and confidence
  • Communicating with the board and management
  • Gettng those deliverables in on time
  • Managing relations and expectations
The days of welcoming a new director with a handshake, a parking pass and a manual are hopefully long gone. Just as governance and the expectations of directors continue to evolve, so too should onboarding practices.

The care you invest in the design and delivery of your onboarding program can make a new director feel welcome and generate dividends in terms of directors’ capacity to hit the ground running. Directors benefit just as much from a good sense of board and organizational culture as they do from gaining clarity on budgets, committees, strategic planning and sectoral challenges and opportunities.

Your onboarding program needs to accommodate both experienced and novice directors and, depending on the organization, appointed and elected directors. This session will include discussion of management’s role in the process, a focus on cybersecurity practices as an element of onboarding, pacing the process and shared responsibilities associated with board mentorship.

  • How to structure your onboarding processes so that new directors understand the organizational culture and can be effective contributors
  • Key elements of an effective onboarding program
  • Steps for incorporating a board mentorship program
  • How to pace your onboarding so you don’t overload a new board member
  • Adding value to your contributions to the board
You don't chair board or board committee meetings, but you can certainly take a lead when it comes to organizational systems that will benefit you, directors and your management team.

The quality of your agendas can impact meeting success, which supports a strategic focus and ensures effective use of busy directors' time. We’ll focus on agenda design as well as the use of consent agendas and report templates.

Since securing colleagues’ agenda deliverables in a timely manner can sometimes be a challenge, we'll also look at communicating with work plans and calendars to ensure that colleagues know what’s expected of them and when. These tools also help you increase your efficiencies, and support transparency that provides board members a good sense of cyclical undertakings.

  • Understand how consent agendas work and help make the best use of meeting time
  • Tips for agenda templates that help directors and management better prepare for meetings
  • Encourage efficiencies through the use of cover briefs/report templates
  • Why a work plan/forward calendar is a win:win for you and your colleagues
  • Tips for developing your own work plan/forward calendar
The minutes you record for your board and your board committees form official, permanent records of the board's actions and decisions. They serve to record participants' execution of their responsibilities.

As if that wasn't enough pressure, your work may be discoverable. Minutes may be used to explain, challenge or defend a position after the fact. You need to balance these factors with respect for busy directors and management colleagues, who want concise, accurate records of such meetings.

While recording standards have evolved over time, one thing hasn't changed: many recorders are uncomfortable with the task, or uncertain about getting minutes right. You want to document information that's relevant for institutional purposes, which means you need to distinguish between what should and shouldn't be recorded.

Shelagh can help you elevate the quality of your minutes as well as your confidence when it comes to this important aspect of the job. Anticipate discussion of purpose, accessibility, context and organizational needs. We’ll also look at the recorder's neutrality, how to record resolutions, and the art of attribution.

  • Enhance your confidence when it comes to recording board and committee meetings
  • Ensure that your recording practices have evolved and meet board and organizational needs
  • Understand what should and shouldn't be recorded
  • Come away with tips to assess your minutes for neutrality
The board is responsible for oversight of your organization's risk management. The topic routinely appears on board agendas, whether it falls under the heading of enterprise risk management (ERM) or through reviews of risk registers and/or heat maps. You may also hear directors and management discussing integrated risk management (IRM).

Risk management is an important strategic business discipline that can impact your organization’s ability to execute on its strategic plan. You needn't be an expert on the topic, but astute EAs/ governance professionals will want to learn more.

Effective risk management results in informed decision making, and it reflects a series of processes put in place to manage risks. Shelagh will walk you through risk processes and the different roles that employees, management and the board hold in an organization’s risk management. We’ll explore different types of risks and terminology such as risk appetite, ownership and tolerance before moving on to internal controls, internal audit and mitigation strategies.

Shelagh will provide you a clear, elevated understanding of risk management oversight.
Board members, senior executives and those who support them are appealing targets for cybercriminals.

Your board will already be providing oversight of the organization's cybersecurity practices, because data in general and the organization's "crown jewels" in particular are critical to an organization’s ability to deliver on its strategic plan.

Have you and your board given thought, though, to communication practices between individual directors, and with you and your management management team? Have people changed practices based on inherent risks? Join Shelagh for a breakdown of cybersecurity terminology, a look at how breaches occur and information boards should be considering. We’ll look at wrap up with a review of practical, proactive measures you, your board and management can take to mitigate risks.

  • Get the latest updates on cybersecurity risks
  • Assess whether your board's practices are inadvertently creating risks
  • Learn what effective boards are doing to help mitigate cybersecurity risks
Shall we talk?

To discuss your plans and needs, drop an email to Shelagh at or click here to send an online request.


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