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What Client’s Say About...

  • Board Orientations

    We are extremely pleased with the outcome. Governance Studio built an orientation process that fits our organization, adapts to the needs of the incoming director, and ensures that person quickly becomes an engaged and high-contributing member of the board.

    ~ Barbara Burley, Governance Committee Chair, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Board Evaluations

    It was time for Canexus to move to an independent review for our board evaluation questionnaire. Now directors can make their comments with greater confidentiality, we get a detailed report that includes strategic governance advice and the work load for me (the Committee Chair) is eased so that I can focus on the broader mandate of the Committee.

    ~ Lyall C. Work, Committee Chair, Canexus
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Sylvia Groves has done the impossible. She distilled decades of governance experience into the most practical guide I have ever seen for preparing great board minutes while avoiding the usual pain and agony.
    AAA+ Minutes™ is a godsend for every corporate secretary, every minute taker and every director who wants to know, without a doubt, that their minutes are top notch!

    ~ Ian Richman, President, Cross Border USA, Inc. (publisher of Corporate Secretary and IR magazines), New York
  • Governance Presentations

    A wealth of valuable information.

    ~ Session participant
  • AAA Minutes™

    In AAA Minutes™, Groves displays a fine appreciation for simplicity in all its glory. She strives to make the life of the corporate secretary easier by highlighting techniques to achieve consistency, without sacrificing functionality and the human element – and she succeeds.
    AAA Minutes™ understands that minutes, like life, are all about balance. This book is one of those rare pieces that will help you do your job better and maybe – just maybe – give you back a few precious minutes in your day.

    ~ Brendan Sheehan, President and Founder, Illawong Group, New York and Melbourne
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    The fifth-sector has been craving exactly this kind of information. Often those who take minutes in charitable foundations and not-for-profit organizations have little or no experience in board governance or the importance of well-prepared minutes. Even where the importance is understood, practical advice is nowhere to be found.
    Now, with AAA+ Minutes™, boards and management teams across our sector can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Sylvia Groves is sharing her extensive expertise as both a Corporate Secretary and a Board Chair to provide us with step-by-step guidance on how to protect our organizations and our boards through great minutes. It is cutting edge information that is vital to the business intelligence of not-for-profits.
    Do your board and your organization a great favour – buy this book for the “lucky” soul who takes your minutes!

    ~ Din Ladak, Chief Executive Officer, Immigrant Services Calgary, Calgary
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    With director accountability and liability at unprecedented levels, the ability to document clear, accurate, and neutral minutes is a critical skill.
    In consideration of this landscape, AAA+ Minutes™ is an easy must-read for both seasoned and new corporate secretary’s tasked with the critical minute taking function.
    Sylvia’s attention to detail and practical examples clearly define the value and benefit for each practice, all while maintaining a big–picture perspective.

    ~ David J. Salmon, Director, Vancouver
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Minutes are the cornerstone of documenting good governance for any board. Well-written minutes reflect a board’s skills, behaviours and diligence – critical issues in this day and age of heightened transparency and accountability.
    Drawing on over 20 years of award-winning secretarial and chair experience, Sylvia Groves’ AAA+ Minutes™ provides the resource for state-of-the-art advice on overseeing and drafting great minutes. Balancing what to exclude and include and why, this practical guide offers tips, examples and samples.
    It is a must-read for any director, corporate secretary, officer, or advisor – of any board in any jurisdiction – concerned with preserving reputation, establishing diligence, and documenting and defending actions and decisions taken.

    ~ Dr. Richard Leblanc, Associate Professor, Law, Governance & Ethics, York University, Toronto
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    A “go to” guide for a wide audience of corporate secretaries and a great refresher for those who have participated in Sylvia Groves’ seminars on minute preparation.
    Sylvia’s book is true to her AAA+ approach; an accessible guide to the current state of the art.

    ~ Joan M. Wilson, former Corporate Secretary, TSX 60 company, Toronto
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Sylvia Groves is a Governance Goddess. She has demonstrated her divine status once again by writing a book that is as clear and straightforward as her advice – and as the minutes she would have us write.
    While some of her sage advice is focused on compliance with Canadian law and practice, most of it applies to all kinds of legal and regulatory schemes, and all of it is practical and wise.
    Thanks, Sylvia!

    ~ Robert B. Lamm, Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, Pfizer Inc., New York
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    AAA+ Minutes™ is a must read for all corporate secretaries and governance professionals. It sets out exceptionally clear fundamental rules, provides real-world solutions and gives tons of concrete examples of great minute-writing practices. More than that, it explains why good minutes are so critically important!

    ~ Lisa Marie Genovese, President and CMO, BottomLine Marketing, Calgary
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    These techniques work!
    Sylvia Groves’ Quick Tips are straight-forward, useful and effective. True time savers!
    AAA+ Minutes™ is the ultimate guide to successful minute writing.

    ~ Misti Christensen, Manager Governance, Nexen Inc. Calgary
  • Strategy Facilitations

    The best part of working together was that Governance Studio has a very clear vision on how to help an organization and Sylvia is able to articulate it in layman’s terms. She thinks quickly on her feet and can shine a light on situations from different perspectives. She stays impartial, doesn’t take sides and is capable of making us all feel heard.

    ~ Yvonne Basten, Vice and Past President 2011, Savoir Faire
  • Board Orientations

    The Council’s success is tied to the quality of our board. It just makes sense to ensure that new directors are well oriented so that they can contribute right from the start.

    ~ Michelle Chawla, Corporate Secretary and Director, Strategic Initiatives, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Building Shareholder Trust

    The board and management are very satisfied with the new format of proxy circular developed in conjunction with Governance Studio – it reflects the very best of Vermilion.

    ~ Mona Jasinski, Vice President, People, Vermilion
  • Strategy Facilitations

    Our goal was accomplished. We had a very interactive discussion facilitated by Governance Studio and were able to receive the clarity we needed in order to move forward.

    ~ Yvonne Basten, Vice and Past President 2011, Savoir Faire
  • Building Shareholder Trust

    Vermilion is very proud of our good governance practices. Our goal was to enhance how we communicated those in our proxy circular – making it easy for our stakeholders to find and use exactly the information they want.

    ~ Lorenzo Donadeo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vermilion
  • Board Evaluations

    All of the directors were very pleased with our new format of board evaluation and the excellent reporting and the insights from an objective governance advisor.

    ~ Dennis G. Flanagan, Board Chair, Canexus
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    If you are new to the profession (like me), AAA+ Minutes™ is a great book and a necessary light read. It will grab your attention within the first chapter, and guide you with exceptional quick tips and clear examples. The author answers your new and lingering questions in a gratifying manner, and provides you with information you want and need to know in your role.

    ~ Rashida Usman, BA (Hons), JD, Manger, Legal Affairs and Corporate Secretary, Finavera Wind Energy, Vancouver
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    A must-have reference book for every Corporate Secretary and anyone who takes minutes for a board. Sylvia shares the insights from her decades of hard-won expertise to provide tons of practical advice and real-world solutions to protect every organization and its directors through well-written minutes.
    I wish a resource like this was around when I first landed in the role. Now, as a director, I have an even greater appreciation for accurate, consistent minutes that are truly easy to read.

    ~ John B. McWilliams, QC, retired Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Nexen Inc. and Past Chair, EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, Calgary
  • Governance Presentations

    Sylvia’s presentation was, as always, highly educational & provides practical guidance & action planning tools.

    ~ Session participant
  • Governance Presentations

    Sylvia has a gift for making things clear and straightforward. Very good for some of the challenges I’m facing right now.

    ~ Session participant
  • Governance Presentations

    Topic was very relevant to Boards today.

    ~ Penny-Lynn McPherson, VP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Canadian Payments Association
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Sylvia Groves is a leading authority in Canadian corporate governance circles.
    AAA+ Minutes™ is a must-read for all governance professionals and a vital addition for every corporate secretary’s book shelf.

    ~ David Masse, Senior Legal Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary, CGI Group Inc. and Board Chair, Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries, Montreal
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Full of useful examples and advice on handling difficult boardroom incidents. Great stuff here. I guarantee you’ll write better minutes after reading this.

    ~ Stephen P. Norman, former Secretary, American Express Company, New York
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Groves is a shining example of what a governance guru should be – experienced, wise and willing to share her knowledge. This book will no doubt be on every corporate secretary’s shelf, as the advice within is pure gold and practical in every sense. Those who know Sylvia will hear her voice enunciate every word.
    AAA+ Minutes™ brings home the adage ‘Read this, before you write that.’

    ~ Ty Francis, Former Publisher, Corporate Secretary Magazine, New York
  • Governance Innovations

    Governance Studio brought the critical thinking and imagination needed to create a framework that makes our innovative governance structure work for us.

    ~ John B. McWilliams, QC, Past Board Chair, EPCOR Centre
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    I’ve worked in the industry for many years and AAA+ Minutes™ summarises all the key points it has taken me 15 years to learn – invaluable!

    ~ Christina Swan, Sr. Corporate Administrator, Compass Administration Services Ltd., Bermuda
  • Governance Innovations

    I haven’t seen another arts organization anywhere in the world that has implemented such an extraordinary governance structure.

    ~ Johann F. Zietsman, President and CEO, EPCOR Centre
  • These techniques work!
    Sylvia Groves’ Quick Tips are straight-forward, useful and effective. True time savers!
    AAA+ Minutes™ is the ultimate guide to successful minute writing.

    ~ Misti Christensen, Manager Governance, Nexen Inc., Calgary
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Integrity and ethical behaviour at the board level is under intense scrutiny in our current climate of financial crises and corporate failures. Minutes that include the must-have items and exclude risky practices are a director’s best defense to evidence the seriousness with which the role is taken. Those same minutes are also imperative in protecting the organizations that directors serve.
    Beyond just a book for minute-takers and corporate secretaries, AAA+ Minutes™ sets out not just the key fundamental principles that can apply to organizations in any sector, but gives practical advice on how to implement them. It is sure to be an invaluable resource for every director, corporate secretary and minute-taker out there.

    ~ Errol P. Mendes, Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa, Ottawa
  • AAA+ Minutes™

    Sylvia Groves epitomizes the governance professional. In her new book AAA+ Minutes™ she navigates you through the often treacherous waters of minute taking. A must have book for all Corporate Secretaries, with or without the title.
    WHERE was this book when I needed it most?

    ~ Daryn MacEachern, Assistant Corporate Secretary, Talisman Energy Inc. and Director and Vice Chair, Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries, Calgary
  • Governance Presentations

    …well organized and informative… a worthwhile day and my standards are high! Worth traveling to attend.

    ~ Carole Mackaay, recently retired General Counsel and Secretary - aspiring corporate director

Success stories

Enhancing Director Effectiveness

Organization – Canexus Corporation 
Canexus, a Canadian corporation listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is a chemical manufacturing and handling company serving customers for more than half a century. Its governance program was modeled on best practices in Canada. Outstanding governance was instrumental in attracting high-quality, independent directors to the Canexus board.

Board evaluations are a key governance process for Canexus. The annual evaluation included a written questionnaire and an interview process. The Chair of the Corporate Governance and Compensation Committee tabulated and analyzed the questionnaire results. Then, with the results in hand, the Board Chair interviewed all directors.

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Auditable Governance

Organization – Nexen Inc.
Before its purchase by CNOOC, Nexen was an international oil and gas exploration and production company with assets throughout the world. It was listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges and through 2009 voluntarily filed a 10-K in the US. In essence, Nexen governed itself as though it was a domestic US company for the purposes of Securities and Exchange Commission legislation, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), while still complying with all Canadian securities and corporate requirements.

In 2004, entirely new mandates were developed for the board and all of its committees that went beyond regulatory requirements to set out all governance activities undertaken. In 2006, roadmaps and calendars were developed as a way to “translate” mandate requirements into the actions undertaken to fulfill them. These documents became the heart of the entity level audit requirements reviewed by internal and external auditors pursuant to SOX.

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Building Trust

Vermilion Proxy Circular 
Vermilion launched in 1994 as an Alberta based oil and gas company with international operations. It is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and, in 2010, converted from a trust to a corporation.

With core values of excellence, trust, respect and responsibility, Vermilion identified its proxy circular as a key communication to stakeholders – one that could, but didn’t yet – build trust by clearly sharing their good governance story.

Vermilion asked Governance Studio to review and provide advice on revising their proxy circular.

November 2010 – “Winner” in Board Games for executive compensation disclosure

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Implementing Extraordinary Governance 

EPCOR Centre Articles 
In 2008, with plans being made to transform the Centre and add new companies, they took the unprecedented step of inviting representatives of the resident companies (either a key member of management or a director) to join the Centre’s board.

The Centre asked Governance Studio to help them revise their Articles to implement the new structure.

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Starting Off Right

Canada Council for the Arts Board Orientation
The Council fosters and promotes the study, enjoyment and production of works in the arts. It supports Canadian creativity through research, grants and endowments that cover the spectrum of modern artistic endeavor from literature to hip hop and beyond.

In order to carry out its mandate the Council has a diverse board. Directors come from all regions of the country and have extensive experience in business, public service and the arts. As a federal crown corporation, director appointments to the Council are made by the Minister and are subject to term limits. This ensures board renewal and also means that new directors need to be brought up to speed quickly.

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