ILA Leadership profile: Raymond Schadeck
Promoting sustainability in its broadest definition has been Raymond Schadeck’s driving motivation since he joined the ILA board in 2006. He understands that if good governance requires experienced, well trained directors, in the future it will be vital that they also have a strong environmental and social focus.
“By promoting effective boards though education and guidance, ILA has worked hard for many years to cover the G of ESG,” Raymond said, adding “now we all need to work even harder on the environmental and social aspects”. After joining the institute’s board a few months after it was founded, and becoming ILA’s third chair from 2015-2019, he lead the drive to develop ILA’s education programme. More recently, promoting environmental and social sustainability has taken greater prominence in his work.
Business fundamentals questioned
“Increasing numbers of clients, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders – particularly after the coronavirus crisis – will ask your company ‘Why do you exist? What is your purpose?’, and if your answer is simply ‘making money for shareholders’ you will not survive,” Raymond insisted. Yet he also points out that sustainability is good business. “History has proven that it’s during the transition phase to new economic models that businesses make the highest margins,” he added.
Education was Raymond’s focus from the beginning. He joined the ILA board in 2006, and led the creation of a range of courses targeted to members’ needs. Over one or two days, local and international experts shared their insights into governance best practice. While a good start, there was a growing demand for something more ambitious. So after the completion of a long career with Arthur Andersen and EY in 2010, one of his main goals was the creation of a full professional qualification for Luxembourg’s governance professionals.
Developing board diversity
By 2010 it had become a globally accepted truism that a lack of cognitive diversity on boards had contributed to the global financial crisis. “Luxembourg is well placed to combat group-think, with the country’s uniquely diverse blend of people and organisations,” Raymond said. He wanted these elements to feature in major governance courses, and there was a meeting of minds with teachers at the INSEAD business school in Fontainebleau, just outside Paris.
Most national governance associations which ran or sponsored courses focused principally on their local legal and cultural environment. ILA and INSEAD saw an opportunity to create one with a specifically international focus, and this came to fruition with the International Directors Programme (IDP) in 2011. As well as focusing on the governance challenges faced by cross-border businesses, INSEAD insists that a maximum of a quarter of participants in each course can come from one country. The offering has diversified since, with specialist modules and certification now also provided via programmes with other partner associations in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. Alongside this, courses of specific Luxembourg relevance have been developed and are being expanded constantly.
There are currently well over 100 people who have completed this programme. Similar demand grew for other qualifications, resulting in the launch of the Certified Company Secretaries Programme in 2017, and the Aspiring Directors Programme in 2019.
Raymond’s chairmanship of ILA between 2015-2019 was also characterised by the broadening of the institute’s scope. “My predecessors Patrick and Marie-Jeanne had done such a good job serving the main activities, that I had no choice but to look for gaps,” he said. For example, this involved providing dedicated training and support for civil servants who sit on boards, as well as for directors of non-financial companies and not-for-profits.
As ILA entered its second decade, its popularity snowballed. In the four years to 2019 both the membership and the number of attendees at training courses tripled. To support this development, and the institute's wider role of being the interlocutor for Luxembourg’s governance professionals, the number of (mostly part time) staff at ILA doubled to reach 10.
Raymond insists that giving members value for money has always been a central concern when spending decisions are made. “For example, ILA doesn’t have impressive offices, as it prefers to rent in a good but modest building. The institute should continue to work to ensure that members’ fees are spent on providing the services they require,” he said.
This prudent approach is necessary to ensure the institute's full independence, which enables it to focus on members’ current and potential future needs. More than ever, he believes this requires boards to take a clear-headed, broad approach to supporting sustainability in all its dimensions.