The Directors College Profiles—Summer 2016

by Ashley Peeling | Jul 21, 2016

Our Alumni

Photo of Mary Anne Chambers, C.Dir. Mary Anne Chambers, C.Dir.
Corporate Director

What is the biggest challenge in Corporate Governance today?

One of the significant challenges in Corporate Governance today is the need to embrace the importance of stakeholders’ interests and how those interests can impact the success of the organization. This is not simply about Corporate Social Responsibility in its traditional sense but recognition that effective engagement of stakeholders is critical to the success of organizations. Whether as current or prospective shareholders, clients, customers, suppliers, employees, or the wider court of public opinion, reputations are earned, good or bad, in the minds of stakeholders. And with the reality and reach of social media, opinions are disseminated instantly and to broad audiences. Commitment to a culture and oversight driven by strong, ethical values in Corporate Governance has never been more important.

What is your greatest accomplishment in your board career?

Being able to serve with colleagues who are committed to the organization’s success and respectful of each other’s contributions has always been rewarding. I learn and grow in such environments and as a result my own contributions are richer. Equally rewarding is the experience of knowing that I have been able to participate in the development of visionary strategies with my contribution remaining somewhat as a legacy for the organization’s sustainability and growth. My goal is always to be a conscientious contributor.

In terms of diversity, where do you see boards one year from now?

I expect Boards to become more reflective of the diversity or their organizations’ stakeholders. It would be wasteful of great talent and really foolish to ignore this opportunity.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

I would love to have dinner with my parents. I miss them so much. It would be great to hear them tell me, just one more time, that they are proud of me, and for me to be able to hug them and thank them for the person that I am.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have had the privilege of visiting many countries in the Americas and the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia but never anywhere on the continent of Africa. I hope to be able to go there.

Who is your role model and why?

My role models are people who strive to be good for their families and communities and who work to make the world a better place.

Where are you up to now? (what boards are you on, etc.?)

I am in my last year on the Board of Governors of the University of Guelph. I am also on the Boards of Cuso International and GraceKennedy Ltd. which is an international food and financial services group of companies.

Our Faculty

Brian Brown, C.Dir Brian Brown, C.Dir.
Chief Audit Executive
Canadian Gran Commission
Former Chairman of the Board, Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) Canada

What is the biggest challenge in Corporate Governance today?

Trying to identify the risks that are hiding around the corner waiting to “get” you compounded by managing through depressed commodity prices, low Canadian dollar, an overall unpredictable economy, cybersecurity threats, and unprecedented transparency into each organization (due to social media and relentless media attention).

What is your greatest accomplishment in your board career?

Taking on the role of Chairman of the Board of IIA Canada in 2010 for two years, leading our Canadian profession of 7600 members at a time when the organization commenced a transition into an independent Canadian institute (separate from the USA). The trust that our members, leaders, and board placed in me to lead at that time was humbling and thrilling. I am extremely proud of the huge volunteer effort put in by the Canadian team to significantly advance the transition beyond what should have been achievable with little staff support.

If we were sitting here one year from now celebrating what a great year it’a been for you in this role, what did we accomplish together?

I am currently on the Board of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection where I chair the Audit Committee. In that role, one of my (and my committee’s) objectives is to establish a long-term financial strategy to ensure the future sustainability and growth of this great organization. In one year, we would ideally celebrate completing that initiative.

In my role as a faculty members of The Directors College, I would celebrate next year sustainable growth in registration and continued enhance program content for this great education program.

If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?

Not sure this is a superpower but reflecting on the mission of the organization I currently serve on the board of , I would like the power to ensure the personal safety of all children. It is abhorrent what too many of our children are subjected to in our society. Learn more about the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I love Canada. While it is always a pleasure to go somewhere warm, historical, or unique, I would prefer to travel coast to coast in Canada. I have been to every major city and throughout many provinces but would love the opportunity to explore the areas I haven’t seen and take time to really experience those I have already.

Who is your role model and why?

I have been very fortunate to have many “mentors” in my career who shared their wisdom and guidance willingly. Tough to identify one but my Grandfather had a big influence. He was a trained accountant who built and ran a very successful business, where he worked very hard. but he made time for balance including leadership roles in many nonprofits and associations. He had the foresight to buy a gorgeous island cottage property in the 1940’s that is still in the family, and introduced his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids to the joys of outdoor activity. He stayed active well into his 80’s (sailing, curling, hockey, yardwork, construction, etc) and, to me, never seemed “old.” One of the messages he told me that still sticks with me is “if you volunteer in an organization, do it as though you plan to be president.” He didnt mean that you actually had to be president...what he meant was that you should make a commitment and contribute to the degree that you would expect of the president. I have tried to live up to that in every organization I have been involved with. He died at 93 about 15 years ago and I still miss him.

Where are you up to now? (what boards are you on, etc.?)

I am still in the workforce as Chief Audit Executive for the Canadian Grain Commission (federal government dept). I am on the board and chair the audit committee for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. I am on the board and chair the Advocacy Committee for the Winnipeg Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors. I also teach on a volunteer basis for The Directors College and the Institute of Internal Auditors and do several speaking engagements for various organizations.

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