The Company Secretary: a look at the specialised, six-figure route to the boardroom





(Plus – details for a related competition with a £1000 first prize, below)

For the long-term planners among us – you may be already weighing and researching career paths with good developmental opportunities, in terms of both salary and role. And if you’re not – I’d recommend reading on anyway, to get a taste of end-game career goals you can start planning for now.


Enter the Company Secretary


First – this is not secretarial work. It’s high-level management that will require graduates with a steady hand, thriving in high-pressure/high-reward roles. A specialised mixture of law and accounting, the Company Secretary…

  • …is the one who guides the decisions of the boardroom, ensuring that any decisions that gets made adhere to legal guidelines and requirements. Meaning they would be expected to stay up-to-date on legislation and regulation.
  • …is the go-between for shareholders and boardroom. You’ll be the one communicating boardroom decisions to the shareholders, and maintaining good personal relationships between the two entities. This means someone exceptional at maintaining professional relationships and equally skilled at maintaining information and communication flows.
  • …oversees daily administration including arranging board meetings, AGM’s, preparing agendas, taking minute, and maintain statutory books (all of which will be familiar to those already on a Student Committee).
  • …is the one developing (and overseeing) internal regulations and systems which ensure company compliance to legal requirements.


Given its proximity to the boardroom, working this role effectively means that you’re essentially on fast-track to high-level roles. If you have ambitions at board level, directorate or department heads, this would be an effective step to take. Alternatively – the wealth of operations and management speciality means you could easily strike out on your own, consulting on business advice, acting as company secretary for small companies, or working as a company formation agent.

Note also the job prospects – while only Public Limited Companies are legally required to appoint a company secretary, all private company will need advice on taking responsibility for compliance, and liaising with regulatory bodies. You could potentially get relevant work in everything from: accountancy and solicitors’ firms; banks and building societies; and charities and hospitals, all the way to educational institutions; employers’ cooperatives; housing associations; and local and central government.


As far as salary prospects go – this one depends on sector, company size, and organisation type. At the highest levels in FTSE 100 companies, company secretaries can expect six- figure salaries  with five-figure bonuses. The ICSA offers a useful table with company secretary salaries expectations, based on region.


Professional Requirements


This role requires considerable personal experience, plus further ICSA qualifications – and some graduates will target their work and careers with Company Secretary as long-term goal.

Degree type is irrelevant, and experience will be far more significant – that being said, accountancy and finance, business and management, and law are generally preferred, and may exempt you from some of the further qualification examinations you’ll need to take on the role. I’d recommend that you do your research carefully and look at job descriptions and requirements.


Want to learn more?


If you’re seriously interested in taking on the training and role, start your research now. This is not a role you’ll easily achieve without extensive preparation.

A fantastic way to start getting a glimpse into the challenges, dynamics, and operations of this role would be to participate in the Tom Morrison Essay Prize, which asks students, recent graduates, or early governance professionals to consider the implications of AI and tech advancements on the company secretary role.

Quite apart from the £1000 first prize (and £500 second prize), this would be an incredibly good analytical framework for research into the job-specifics of the role. Click here for a refresher on the University Library’s guide to effective essay writing (and Literature and Language Department students – remember, you have access to specialised essay advice. Speak to your Support Centre for further information).


Career profile: Teaching– when (and how) to apply for training

For all the cataclysmic headlines about school teaching, the profession remains a popular training choice for graduates – UCAS reported a little over 46,000 PGCE applications in 2017. As finalist undergraduates, it’s likely you’ll know peers who are already decided on teacher training.

And it’s not terribly hard to see why:

  • Financial stability – with starting salaries of £23,000 – £29,000 (location dependent), and a relatively generous, guaranteed pension (a rarity), this can be a solid, long-term financial pathway.
  • High demand, forecasted rises – with an estimated 15% increase in secondary school classroom size by 2025 plus examination changes, an already high teacher demand is likely to grow, with the government pushing for extra recruitment via incentive programs.
  • Reimbursed training – heavy subsidies from the government mean that those training for teacher qualifications can receive subject-specific bursaries, generally going up to £26,000.
  • Perks – excluding some great time off, a House of Commons Library briefing (Teacher Recruitment and Retention in England by David Foster) reports incentive programs being piloted by the government, including student loan reimbursement schemes in some areas.
  • Job satisfaction – the oft-quoted ‘no two days the same’ is highly applicable with children or youth, and you’ll have a direct hand in their formative years often seeing the change and results through the years. ‘Love of teaching’ is real.
  • Degree relevance – few existing career paths will link quite as directly to what you studied as an undergrad, meaning your sense of time used quickly and efficiently will be great.
  • Transferable skill-sets – apart from the vast range of education job roles outside direct school teaching, talent and skill development are valuable skills which can be leveraged in other roles.


Things to consider…


And yet – the state of the industry and job market means that caution is needed before rushing into a decision. Following government cuts:

  • There have been cuts in administrative staff –and the work falls to teachers. Between paperwork, lesson planning, and marking you’ll be working hours similar to that of the average policeman.
  • Bursaries exist for all subjects, but actual amounts are subject dependent – for those subjects with less demand, your grant is likely to be markedly less.
  • Despite consistent reports of job satisfaction, the increasing workloads placed by under-funded schools means that burn-out is real.
  • Incentives are focused into areas of the country which are underperforming, meaning that to take full advantage, you must be able to travel.
  • Permanent positions are competitive, and rare – meaning that to avoid a cycle of temporary teaching jobs, successful graduates must go several extra miles to stand out.


So – if you’re set on success in the education industry …


…you need to play things smart. And you’ll also need to think carefully if you’ve the right qualifications (personal and professional) for the job:

  • Calm under pressure, high adaptability – this is not a job for the faint of heart. You’ll not only be working with children, but with their parents, and this will call for a steady hand. If you’re easily stressed, or have a tendency to fold under pressure or confrontation, consider training yourself up first
  • Excellent time-management – with such a high work-load, there isn’t much space for poor time management. This, thankfully, is a skill you can develop – consider starting with the University’s dedicated guides to time management.
  • Enjoy working with children – seemingly obvious. But – bear in mind that you will be with children for the complete extent of your daytime career. While this can be incredibly rewarding, it will only be so if you are happy with that decision, and have the communication skills to make it work.
  • Willing and able to travel – an ability to relocate will be particularly helpful here – government schemes are going to be focused into underperforming school regions, so being able to reach them could be advantageous.
  • Have the right degree –you can teach with most degrees. But to really maximise your changes and benefit, you need to look ahead at existing (and forecasted) career opportunities, and consider what’s in demand. Have a degree Geography, Design Technology, Physics, Religious Education, or Maths? These are currently in demand and training comes with generous bursaries. Degrees in Biology, PE, English, and History are experiencing a glut of qualified teachers, and applications may come with extra challenges.
  • Get outside experience – given how competitive the job market is, getting outside experience is greatly recommended. If you still have time at university, consider looking at outreach programs, such as Reading’s own SiS scheme (otherwise – keep reading).

And perhaps most importantly…

  • Get the right help –to maximise the benefits you reap, you MUST know the path. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources to help and guide you – the Department of Education has released resources, and it is HIGHLY recommended you start here. Fill out the online form, and you gain access to:
    • Tailored advice on teacher training;
    • Help preparing strong applications to teacher training programs
    • Access to teaching events
    • Notifications on open school experience programs.


Concluding notes


Teaching can be tough – with a high workload, a rapidly changing career landscape, and long hours, this is in no way a career path for someone who is unable to adapt to pressure.

But plan ahead, and be prepared handle the pressure, the change, and the challenge – and you’ll find yourself on a growing career pathway with opportunities and personal rewards unlike any other.

After all – where else can you find the opportunities to quite literally change the course of a person’s entire life on such a regular basis?

Love Travel, Tech and The Great Outdoors?

Craig Simmonds gives us the inside scoop on a post-study vocation that combines the outdoors and tech-based, challenge-solving adventure.

Craig was first introduced to ground probing radar tech in 1993, having  previously worked as a topographic land and measured building surveyor, as well as an Olympic Village site engineer in Barcelona.  Fascinated with the expanding technology, he was led to start experimenting with ways to blend the complex radar tech output with standard topographical practises for the construction industry. He is now Managing Director of the award-winning Surrey surveying firm, Macleod Simmonds . Based on a philosophy of constant innovation, Craig has performed training and utility surveys internationally – Vietnam, Japan, India, New Zealand and the United States. He had this to say to University of Reading students:

‘As our firm embarks on a major expansion programme, the opportunity has arisen to become part of our dynamic team.  With the exciting opportunity to explore the country and get involved in some of the most impressive British engineering projects, Macleod Simmonds can offer budding surveyors a unique training environment.  Students will also get the chance to experience first-hand the revolutionary sub surface radar technologies we have spent the last ten years developing.’

He also offers the following information on surveying careers:

  • Travel opportunities – There is the chance to explore the UK on various projects.
  • Variety– surveying is not a 9-5, with no two days the same – making this a career for students who can constantly adapt to new challenges.
  • Accessibility – with a multitude of ways to qualify, surveying is a profession open to all.
  • Tangible difference– surveying changes the physical landscape around you, giving you the opportunity to work on projects you can envision, and physically execute.
  • Growth prospects– surveying skills are a consistent demand, giving surveyors the flexibility to develop and grow in their careers.


Students interested in learning more about graduate opportunities with Craig at Macleod Simmonds should apply here, call +44 (0)330 6781115, and follow @MacleodSimmonds on Twitter and Macleod Simmonds on LinkedIn.



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A graduate job interview can consist of many different types of interview questions; including knowledge-based, character, credential verification, and competency-based questions. Knowing the most effective interview techniques for answering each of these questions, and understanding how to implement them, can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful job interview. Continue reading

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