Directors told to seize opportunity

The Australian directorship community has been warned against failing to act swiftly and bravely on the opportunities afforded by the fast-growing ASEAN region and the threats faced by business from digital disruption.

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ (AICD’s) annual conference in Kuala Lumpur, Michael Smith FAICD, chair of the AICD said myriad factors such as the Chinese economic slowdown, the end of the mining boom and the growing threat of digital disruption means directors face significant challenges in ensuring they stay ahead of the curve and safeguard the interests of their companies and the broader economy.

“The world of leadership changes enormously quickly, and what we know becomes dated very quickly,” he said.

“The ongoing, exciting revolution that is happening here in Asia coupled with the risk we face from cyber threat means if we don’t change fast, we are off the pace.”

Smith added that there is an opportunity for directors to have a profound effect on Australia by making informed decisions that are in the best interests of business and the economy.

“Our intellect as directors is a collective intellect, we search for the best way to keep the organisations that we lead safe and more prosperous. To do this, we have to be personally brave.  This is not all about consensus, but having our own informed perspective and being a constructive part of an argument.

Smith pointed to the opportunities arising in the ASEAN region as one not to be overlooked, particularly as many directors remain optimistic about the Asian economy. In contrast, 70 per cent of directors expect the domestic economy to be weak in the next 12 months, according to the AICD’s latest Director Sentiment Index.

“As directors, we are powerful and our decisions mean we can make it safer and better for all stakeholders. If we are better, we make our organisations better and we make our society better,” he said.