NZ Business - - CONTENTS - Cathy Parker is the owner of Adrenalin Pub­lish­ing and serves on a num­ber of boards.

So, you want to be a di­rec­tor: Be­com­ing a char­tered mem­ber. By Cathy Parker.

Many man­agers want to ul­ti­mately move their ca­reer into the board room as a di­rec­tor. In our May is­sue we looked at what is now al­most one of the pre­req­ui­sites of this, the In­sti­tute of Direc­tors’ Com­pany Direc­tors Course. Hav­ing com­pleted that, if you are se­ri­ous about a fu­ture board ca­reer, a fur­ther step would be com­plet­ing the IoD Char­tered Mem­ber Assess­ment, writes Cathy Parker.

THE IN­STI­TUTE OF DIREC­TORS has more than 8,700 mem­bers and be­ing a mem­ber shows a de­gree of se­ri­ous­ness around be­com­ing a di­rec­tor and also re­quires that you take part in con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion. The next level of mem­ber­ship is to be­come a char­tered mem­ber which puts you in a more ex­clu­sive group (there are around 2,000 char­tered mem­bers).

To be­come a char­tered mem­ber you must meet four re­quire­ments. The first is to com­plete the Com­pany Direc­tors Course or an equiv­a­lent (or for long stand­ing direc­tors they can ap­ply for a recog­ni­tion of prior learn­ing). You must com­plete the Char­tered Mem­ber Assess­ment (CMA) or equiv­a­lent and must be a di­rec­tor of a qual­i­fy­ing board (Es­sen­tially one where there is a mean­ing­ful sep­a­ra­tion of gover­nance and man­age­ment func­tions). Fi­nally, you need to com­plete an up­grade to char­tered mem­ber form and sign a con­fir­ma­tion of your good char­ac­ter and com­mit­ment to the char­ter.

The CMA has two com­po­nents, the first is an as­sign­ment of around 3,000 words and the sec­ond is a 75-minute exam. They are based around the IoD's Four Pil­lars pub­li­ca­tion and the con­tent of the Com­pany Direc­tors Course.

If you com­plete the course you can do the CMA within six months for no ad­di­tional charge. Apart from the cost sav­ing, I would highly rec­om­mend this as firstly the learn­ing will be fresh in your mind and the as­sign­ment ques­tions will fol­low a sim­i­lar struc­ture to the case stud­ies used in the course.

Once I de­cided to do the CMA I com­pleted read­ing the com­pre­hen­sive CDC course notes and also Four Pil­lars, which I had started read­ing be­fore my course.

I ap­plied for the CMA once I had done this prepa­ra­tion, which cer­tainly helped. I did the as­sign­ment first, you get three weeks to com­plete it. The as­sign­ment is around a case study with a set of board pa­pers and you an­swer a num­ber of ques­tions in a writ­ten for­mat with a tar­get to­tal word count of 3,000.

The topic ar­eas are drawn from the Four Pil­lars and in some you need to ref­er­ence spe­cific parts of the pub­li­ca­tion. Top­ics will vary but might in­clude things such as ethics, board se­lec­tion or com­po­si­tion, fi­nance, risk man­age­ment, hold­ing to ac­count and le­gal is­sues.

It took me around 10 hours in to­tal to com­plete the as­sign­ment, I am usu­ally a fast writer but there was lots of cross check­ing and thought re­quired to best an­swer the ques­tions.

The as­sign­ment is emailed off and you get the marks back two to three weeks later, the pass mark is 75 per­cent.

I chose to do the exam af­ter the as­sign­ment as I felt the read­ing for the as­sign­ment would help with exam study. While I had re­cently read Four Pil­lars, I did sum­marise the topic ar­eas in the exam for re­view.

The exam is held at lo­ca­tions across New Zealand by an assess­ment

com­pany. It's an on­line but su­per­vised exam and you get a clean copy of the Four Pil­lars and of the rel­e­vant sec­tions of the Com­pa­nies Act to use. The ques­tions are all multi-choice or multi-select (select the two cor­rect an­swers) and again the pass mark is 75 per­cent.

I got home af­ter the exam and my as­sign­ment assess­ment had ar­rived in my in­box – yes, passed. (You don't get your mark). Now a ner­vous wait un­til later in the af­ter­noon when the exam re­sults ar­rived – and also a pass with 87 per­cent.

Com­plete the up­grade form and a cou­ple of days later you are ac­cepted as a char­tered mem­ber (and can use the CMIn­stD hon­ou­rific). Char­tered mem­ber cer­tifi­cates are then pre­sented at an ap­pro­pri­ate IoD event.

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