Auckland lawyer earns Emerging Director Award

Auckland lawyer earns Emerging Director Award

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Auckland, August 31, 2019

Jaya Prasannan (second from right) is with (from left) Julia Hoare (Auckland Branch Chair), last year’s Awardee Nagaja Sanatkumar, and Cecilia Tarrant (Auckland Branch Committee Member). Picture Supplied.

Auckland lawyer Jaya Prasannan has been declared ‘Emerging Director 2019’ of the Auckland Branch of the Institute of Directors.

She is General Manager, Corporate Services and General Counsel at two Auckland-based digital disruptors, ‘NZ Compare’ and ‘SLICE Digital,’ leading a team responsible for Legal Affairs, Finance and Human Resources functions.

Impressive credentials

Ms Prasannan was previously in-house Counsel for a few large New Zealand businesses.

A native of United Kingdom, she spent five years in private practice and as in-house Counsel based in London.

Ms Prasannan is the Deputy Chair of the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand Inc.

She holds a BA (Hons) degree in Natural Sciences & Psychology from the University of Cambridge and completed her postgraduate legal studies at Nottingham Law School.

She is now studying to obtain MBA degree from the University of Auckland.

In choosing Ms Prasannan for the Annual Award, the Judges said that they were impressed with her range of experience, her understanding of the importance of good governance and her commitment to excellence.

Commitment to excellence

“Her willingness to seek opportunities to extend herself through continuing education is a credit to her. All that, coupled with the steps she has already taken towards Governance, particularly through her position on the Board of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) of New Zealand make her an ideal candidate to receive the Emerging Director Award,” they said.

Ms Prasannan said that she is looking forward to learning from more experienced directors as she develops her governance capabilities.

“Access to an experienced director as a mentor for a year will also be invaluable in helping me to navigate my next steps,” she said.

She also hopes that her example in winning this Award will encourage others, especially professionals under 40 to consider a career in Governance, which is changing as new generations bring new expectations to Boards.

Motivating others

“Historically, the ultimate expectation on commercial boards was to maximise shareholder value. This is etched in our constitutions and within our legislation but its execution has become distorted from its purpose. I feel fortunate to have begun my Governance journey at YHA, a not-for-profit, where we aim to live by our values of integrity, respect, excellence and passion.  Interestingly, while still using shareholder value as an anchor, corporates are now looking for purposeful Governance such as ours that is current with the times.”

Organisational success, in her view, requires two things.

Path to success

“Firstly, the courage to compose a Board that is reflective of the people it exists to serve, and the issues it exists to solve. Secondly, it is difficult to spot one’s participation in ‘groupthink’. It takes mutual respect and self-awareness to accept views different to our own,” she said.

Ms Prasannan hopes that her willingness to speak plainly, based on the facts in front of her will be valuable to her fellow board members.

“I don’t think I am anything special; my strength has come from learning when to challenge the status quo and by simply speaking my mind. My particular areas of interest within governance include culture and conduct, the future of work and wellbeing,” she said.

About Institute of Directors

The Institute of Directors is New Zealand’s pre-eminent organisation for Directors and at the heart of the Governance community. The Institute believes in the power of Good Governance to create a strong, fair and sustainable future. Its role is to drive excellence and high standards in governance. We support and equip our members, who lead a range of organisations from listed companies, large private organisations, state and public sector entities, to small and medium enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and charities.

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