Culture and the Role of the Board and Senior Team [Online]

15 April 2021



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Organisational culture and the behaviours and examples of those in governance and leadership roles is becoming more prominent not only in discourse on good governance, but also formally now in Codes and guidance. The UK Corporate Governance Code (2018) explicitly calls out the role of the Board in ensuring that organisational culture is aligned with the strategy of the organisation, and also that the Board should monitor and assess culture. And Minister McGrath published the new annex to the state body code in September 2020 at our Forum event. The Annex on Gender Balance, Diversity and Inclusion includes a section on culture, which includes defining culture, speaking to the fact that compliance with rules ‘is not enough’ to deliver good governance, and that diversity reduces the likelihood of group think.

Clearly there is a role for the Board and Senior Team in setting and living the right tone, setting the right example and in monitoring and assessing culture in the organisation. The question that arises therefore is how best the Board and Senior Team can do this.

Our Forum event will draw together three highly experienced practitioners to consider questions such as:


Marion Kelly

Marion was appointed as CEO of the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) in March 2020, having previously been Acting CEO since April 2019. Marion initially joined the IBCB in August 2018 on secondment from Bank of Ireland (BOI) as Programme Director leading the establishment of the IBCB.

Marion joined BOI in 2006 and held a range of senior leadership roles across BOI in Regulatory Compliance, Operational Risk, Internal Audit and Recovery & Resolution planning.

Prior to joining BOI, Marion worked with PwC Dublin for 7 years within the FS Regulatory advisory practice, and prior to that spent 4 years working in Brussels with both the European Savings Banks Group and the European Commission.

Marion qualified as a Certified Bank Director with the Institute of Bankers (IoB) in 2018, she holds a Masters in European Economic and Public Affairs and a BA in Economics and German both from UCD.

Liz Sandwith

Liz is currently the Chief Professional Practices Adviser for the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CIIA), which issued guidance on auditing culture in late 2019 and more recently published a report on Cultivating a Healthy Culture. In her role she is responsible for advising and representing the Institute on all matters relating to the professional practice of internal audit; on ensuring quality standards; and on technical issues. She is also technical advisor to the Institute’s External Quality Assessment (EQA) service, which includes the undertaking the quality assurance process for each and every EQA report and ensuring that standards are maintained and there is consistency in the application of the Institute’s EQA framework.  Liz is also a member of the IIA Global Standards Board so is an influencer with regard to changes in the International Professional Practices Framework and also the IIA Standards.

Liz is a non-executive director and chair of an Audit and Risk Committee for a Leeds based Housing Association and is also an independent board member and a member of the Remuneration Committee.

Tony Sweeney

Tony is Chairperson of the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform (DPER) Audit Committee, and a current member and former Chair of the Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) Risk and Audit focus group. In addition, Tony served as a member of the Audit Committee of both CAI and the Department of Social Protection (DSP), holding the position of Chair of the DSP Audit Committee for a number of years.

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (CAI) and a graduate of UCD, Tony Sweeney trained initially with PriceWaterhouse in Dublin and has worked subsequently in a range of different industries with over 25 years practical experience in the areas of Governance, Compliance, Risk and internal Audit.

Tony has worked  across regulated and unregulated business sectors in organisations such as Fexco, SSE plc, Airtricity Ltd, Dublin Airport Authority plc, Bord na Móna and Irish Pride Bakeries.  Tony has recently taken up a position with Bank of Ireland Group as Head of Audit for Group Risk, Group Finance and Credit Review, having spent the previous 8 years as Head of Internal Governance for the Fexco group.