Careers In Governance

David Simmonds


Vice-President and Chairman, Membership Committee, HKCGI; Chief Strategy, Sustainability & Governance Officer, CLP Holdings Ltd

What is your role as a governance professional?

‘I am the Group General Counsel for CLP Holdings Ltd, where I lead a team of professionals from various disciplines across legal, insurance, governance and sustainability. I am also a current Vice-President of The Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries. In that capacity, I really hope to assist promote the value and importance of corporate governance, sustainability and the contribution made by our members to the long-term success of the Hong Kong market.’

What was your career path to your current role?

‘I started out as an M&A lawyer at a law firm in Australia, before moving in-house. I first joined the CLP Group as General Counsel and Company Secretary of our Australian business before moving to Hong Kong to become the Group General Counsel around 12 years ago. Since then I have been fortunate to see my role expand in several areas and at the beginning of 2016, I became the Company Secretary of CLP Holdings Ltd and took responsibility for our corporate secretarial operations across the Group.’

a successful governance professional protects and advances the values of an organisation and the value of that organisation

What value does governance bring to organisations and to wider society?

‘Governance is an essential enabler of long-term value creation, so it brings enormous benefit to organisations and, by extension, to society. When you step back from the detail of rules and regulations, governance is fundamentally about human relationships and the way in which an organisation prioritises and makes choices between the demands of different stakeholders. It is also about how an organisation communicates with people about what it is doing and why, how it does things that equate with its values, and who it wants to be as an organisation. In an increasingly complicated and rapidly changing external environment, that is more important than ever.’

What qualities do you think are needed to be a successful governance professional?

‘A successful governance professional protects and advances the values of an organisation, and the value of that organisation. In addition to the essential governance subject matter expertise, that requires courage and integrity, persistence and a liberal dose of pragmatism, recognising that positive change doesn’t happen overnight and is rarely completed in one step.’

How do you think governance will evolve in the future?

‘Governance will continue to broaden and evolve from a technical, compliance-oriented discipline to one which is more principles-based and value-adding over a wider subject area. We have already witnessed the growing significance of risk management, ESG and sustainability over recent years, driven in no small part by the risks and opportunities brought by climate change and digitisation. The experience of COVID-19 will further accelerate these trends. That is a great thing for governance professionals because our scope to assist the organisations we work for will continue to expand and become even more valuable.’

What inspires you in your life and work?

‘To make a difference by making a positive contribution in whatever I do.’

How do you fill your time outside work?

‘I have four children so most of my time outside work revolves around them. I am also a keen runner, traveller and closet foodie with a love of street food from around the world.’

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