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Corporate guide

A company secretary (CS) takes care of the company — ­from its incorporation till it winds up. He/she has to ensure a ­company’s legal and regulatory compliance, and provide ­interface between the company and its ­stakeholders.

education Updated: Aug 20, 2013 17:14 IST
Hindustan Times
company secretary,Companies Act,Chartered secretaryship

The lowdown

A company secretary (CS) takes care of the company — ­from its incorporation till it winds up. He/she has to ensure a ­company’s legal and regulatory compliance, and provide ­interface between the company and its ­stakeholders. Chartered secretaryship gained recognition in the 1950s and since then a CS’s role has changed dramatically and more ­avenues have opened up, from that of a chief record keeper to a chief governance officer. These corporate professionals can take up a job or practise on their own. Under the Companies Act, 1956, a ­company with a paid-up share capital of Rs. 5 crore or more is required to appoint a full-time company secretary registered with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and so does company wishing to list on a stock exchange. Every company with a paid-up share capital of Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 5 crore has to hire a CS in full-time practice to issue a compliance certificate. A member of ICSI is recognised for appointment to ­senior-level posts and services under the central government. He/she can also appear before tribunals such as Company Law Board, Securities Appellate Tribunal, Competition Commission of India, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, consumer forum, tax tribunals etc.

A day in the life of a company ­secretary depends on the company he/she works for. No one day is the same, each day is unique in terms of challenges. When the company has a board meeting, the CS has to enables its smooth functioning. He has to ensure that all the agenda papers have been made available to all directors, extra information is ­provided ­as and when required, ­special invitees are present for ­discussion on ­specific agenda items and ­decision-making is facilitated by proper discussion of material facts and information

The ­payoff
A fresh company secretary starts with an annual salary of Rs. 6 lakh a year on an average. A person with at least four or five years of ­experience can earn ­anything between Rs. 25 lakh and Rs. 1 crore per year in big corporate ­houses and multi-national ­companies. Compensation, of course, depends on an individual’s performance, ­his/her ability to grow, ­willingness to take up additional responsibilities and the sector in which he/she is working

* Strategic thinking
* Strong analytical and ­decision- making ability
* Good communication skills (both written and spoken English)
* He/she should be accountable for efficient management of the ­corporate sector
* Ability to coordinate and assist various departments of the organisation
* Should ensure compliance of company legislations and advise directors on statutory ­requirements of the company
* One should be good at negotiating and giving presentations. You would also need excellent ­attention to detail
* Ability to prioritise and ­manage busy workload
* Good organisational and time management skills
* Problem-solving ability and sound judgement

Getting there
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) conducts the company secretary programme in the country. After passing Class 12 in science, commerce or arts, excluding fine arts, you can enroll for the company secretary ­programme conducted through ­distance mode in three
stages — foundation (eight-month), executive and professional. Graduates in any discipline, except fine arts, need to do only the last two levels. After clearing the ­executive or ­professional course, one completes 16 months of training in a company or under an ­experienced and practising ­company ­secretary. Those with specified work experience can take partial or full waiver from the ­training. One has to then complete training in a ­specialised agency and a secretarial modular training ­programme. After the professional course and training, one becomes an associate member of ICSI

Institutes and URLs
* Institute of Company Secretaries of India; It offers courses like company secretaryship ­qualification course, post ­membership ­qualification courses in ­corporate governance and ­corporate restructuring and ­insolvency. Certified banking compliance ­professional course and ­certificate course on ­valuation are also offered by the institute. In association with Indira Gandhi National Open University, the ­institute offers two ­courses — BCom in ­corporate affairs and ­administration and MCom in ­business policy and ­corporate governance

Pros and cons
* Opportunity to work with the company’s top management
* You get recognition from day one
* You have the responsibility to ensure that the company follows ethical practices
* Highly stressful job, which at times could leave you with ­hardly any time for yourself

With the passing of the Companies Bill, a company secretary has a much larger role to play as a key managerial person, with special focus on disclosure and transparency ---- SN Ananthasubramanian, president, Institute of Company Secretaries of India

First Published: Aug 20, 2013 16:38 IST