Quick guide to the CSCS conference

Aug 18, 2011
<p>Top-tier governance experts will be in attendance.</p>

Governance and compliance professionals heading to the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries (CSCS) 13th Annual Corporate Governance Conference at the Fairmont Chataeu Frontenac in Quebec City, Quebec August 21 through 24 should prepare themselves for three and a half days of sessions, breakouts, roundtables and networking events that are sure to keep everyone interested, engaged and enlightened. Set amid the backdrop of Old Quebec City just off the St. Lawrence River, conference goers will also have plenty of opportunities for fun tours and leisure activities that will certainly allow them to play hard as they catch up on the latest in Canadian governance.

Early arrivals get more value

Touting itself as ‘the most photographed hotel in the world’ the Fairmont Chataeu Frontenac exudes the beautiful ambiance of a castle and offers many amenities that should have everyone feeling like royalty.  Enjoy the hotel’s own set of spa services and tour choices, as well as its restaurants for fine dining.

A journey into Old Quebec City offers marvelous views of its old-world architecture. Or wander the streets site-seeing and shopping for fashions and memorabilia. With average temperatures in August ranging from 10C to 23C (56F to 73F), the weather will be perfect for walking and other outdoor activities. Conference attendees arriving early on Saturday August 20 can take part in a full menu of golf and local tours organized by QVC Inscript on Sunday August 21. Early conference arrivals can also avail themselves of Sunday’s new optional full-day preconference workshop that can get newer professionals up to speed on governance matters quickly or serve as a quick refresher for others.

Those making their first trip to a CSCS conference should be sure to arrive in time to attend Sunday’s First-timers Welcome Reception, hosted by CSCS president Lynn Beauregard and the board of directors. The First-timer’s reception is followed by the conference opening cocktail reception, which will feature dynamic local entertainment. Equity Financial Trust Company sponsors the opening reception, which is followed by the conference opening dinner, sponsored by Corporatek.   

Top-tier Speakers

CSCS always attracts some of the top names in the world of governance, and this year is no exception.  In addition to Society chairman David Masse, senior legal counsel and assistant corporate secretary, CGI Group, other leading conference speakers include: Jill Aebker, deputy general counsel and secretary, Tim Hortons; David Childers, president and CEO of EthicsPoint; Antenella Deo, head of the subsidiary governance office, Royal Bank of Canada; David Facey, corporate secretary, BC Hydro; Sylvia Groves, principal GG Consulting; Rene Hamel, CEO, SSQ Financial Group; Ken Hugessen, president and CEO Huggessen Consulting; Pamela Jeffrey, founder, Canadian Board Diversity Council; Richard Leblanc, associate professor, faculty of liberal arts and professional studies, York University; Andrew MacDougall, partner, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt; Stan Magidson, president and CEO, Institute of Corporate Directors; Elizabeth Watson, president, Watson Advisory; David Weyant, senior vice president and general counsel, Alberta Health Services and Karen Wiwchar, general counsel and corporate secretary, Wordplay Communications.

Business info for all

Once the conference begins, the hottest topics in governance will be explored. What will be the most pressing challenges in the governance landscape facing Canadian companies and their top executives? What are the best strategies to help governance professionals prepare for the future? These questions and more will be addressed during the conference.

With such a list of accomplished speakers, the conference program offers something for everyone. Professionals from public, private and non-profit organizations will all find sessions relevant to them. The conference kicks off on Monday with concurrent workshops – a session on project and process management for corporate secretaries facilitated by Carla Goldstein, chief strategic innovations officer of Seyfarth Shaw, and Patricia Olah, project management counsel, Borden Ladner Gervais, and a review of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act presented by Karen Cooper, partner at Carters Professional Corporation and Coleen Kirby, manager policy section, Corporations Canada. An afternoon plenary session on ‘Key Developments in Board Renewal and Diversity’ will interest all conference attendees with strategies for finding the right type of executives for their board of directors.

Tuesday features a variety of breakout sessions for listed companies, private companies and not-for-profits. Topics include, say-on-pay, an update on the Canadian proxy system, subsidiary governance issues and shareholder engagement. It will be virtually impossible to leave without several valuable handouts and useful takeaways.  There will also be separate afternoon roundtables to discuss the most pressing issues facing crown corporations, not-for-profit organizations, small issuers and large issuers.

On Wednesday, concurrent workshops offering tips for recruiting, orienting and evaluating directors and examining the role of the board in enterprise-wide risk oversight, will round out the conference. Carol Hansell, senior partner at Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg will deliver the closing keynote address.

Social Networking

Over the three and a half days, there will be many opportunities to network, so don’t be shy. Conference goers will have opportunities to meet other professionals at social events such as the golf outing and the opening receptions and dinner events held on Sunday.  

The continental breakfast stations and the breaks between sessions provide more chances to swap business cards and chat with presenters. In fact, on Monday morning, CSCS has put together a ‘Conference Tips & Tricks: Planning to Network’ session to ensure that people meet each other and leave the conference better connected.  You can also spend time meeting other professionals in the exhibit hall, where vendors can enlighten you on the latest products and services in governance. Be sure to take advantage of the ‘free night’ on Monday to venture out into Quebec and network with conference goers and the local community.

On Tuesday, conventioneers are invited to a local Carnival sponsored by Laurel Hill Advisory, complete with street performers and cirque entertainment that will run deep into the night. The closing reception and dinner will give conference goers one last chance to ‘close the deal’ on meeting key contacts. The contact made this year could serve you well in your career – it really is ‘who you know’ in this very slow-moving economy.

Award winning luncheon

The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance will again present its CCGG Governance Gavel Awards during the opening day luncheon at the conference, sponsored by Broadridge. Now in its seventh year, the gavel awards recognize excellence in board governance practices. Last year Cameo won for best disclosure of board governance and director qualifications, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce won for best disclosure of approach to executive compensations and the first ever gavel award for best practices in shareholder engagement went to Potash Corporation.

After the Conference

Once you’ve had a taste of Quebec’s charm and had a chance to sample the city’s beauty, you might decide to stick around for a little while longer. Mixing business with pleasure is a lot easier with the conference companion program that allows CSCS delegates to bring a guest to participate in social activities and evening events when you sign your companion up when you register. This year the program is even better because CSCS will be arranging post-conference activities for attendees. You can stay and play in Quebec City after the conference if you’d like. Now that’s the kind of compliance that anyone can enjoy!

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