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Feb 8, 2024

Quick Fire Q&A with Simon Levy, CEO of RMIA


We're privileged to have Simon Levy, CEO of the Risk Management Institute of Australasia (RMIA), share his thoughts on governance, board member communication and engagement, and how he sees the role of the board evolving in the next 5 years. 


How do you build a strong relationship with your board chair?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege of working closely with the last two board chairs. These were not just professional connections but rather strong, pre-existing relationships that blossomed when they assumed their roles as board chairs. Their influence on my career has been profound.

The bedrock of these relationships, like any successful professional connection, has been trust, transparency, and open communication. In the context of our work within the association space, sharing a common vision is essential. It is the cornerstone upon which we have built our collaborative journey.

How do you recruit and develop new board members?

The recruitment process for our board of directors has undergone recent changes. We are now more discerning when it comes to the essential skill sets required. Our directors are required to be members, ensuring they possess an in-depth understanding of the industry and profession within which we operate. As the awareness of risk management grows, the task of attracting new members and, consequently, directors has fortunately become more manageable.


Once appointed, any training or mentorship provided? Tools used?

We do not provide formal training, as we expect our directors to have prior experience at the senior executive or director level. Familiarisation with RMIA, its products, and services is currently accomplished through a brief induction process. With the introduction of Intuto, we anticipate a shift towards an online induction format.


  1. Board meeting preparation can be significant regarding time and focus. How do you keep preparation efficient and still meet the governance needs of the association?

We utilise a board software program, which keeps all the board papers and associated documentation in the repository.


What are some of the most prominent challenges association executives/CEOs face in working with a board?

In the context of professional associations, the primary challenge lies in the selection of activities. More often than not, the 'shopping list' of projects, initiatives, and value-added activities is extensive, and it's often limited by constraints such as insufficient resources or financial limitations.

Therefore, prioritisation becomes a critical aspect of our decision-making process. We must assess which endeavours will yield the most substantial impact and align with the organisation's core values. Ultimately, we must prioritise what our membership wants and needs from us above all else.


  1. What advice would you give a new association CEO about working with their board?

Clarity is paramount, and it's the CEO's responsibility to guide the board through the organisation's journey. As the CEO, I am deeply immersed in the organisation, and intimately aware of its opportunities and challenges.

Board members, by the nature of their roles, do not require the same level of detailed knowledge, their skill set lies in judgement, foresight and decision-making. Instead, it is my role to guide them, ensuring alignment in understanding across the board regarding the organisation's current position. Together, we chart the path forward.


  1. How will association boards evolve in the next five to ten years?

Associations and not-for-profit organisations, in general, are susceptible to external economic factors and global events. As these challenges grow increasingly complex, the skill set required for association directors must evolve and adapt. This evolution may entail more comprehensive training or a recognition that a diverse and multi-skilled board could be essential.

Consequently, future boards will need to possess the skills, knowledge, and competency necessary to navigate their organisations through the heightened complexity we face today.

More insights on governance

If you've enjoyed this interview then take a look at our four part interview on Governance with Robyn Pickerill, the CEO of FANZ: Read it here.

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