MG100 Spotlight: Michael Ling, Deputy Company Secretary of CLP Holdings

Lena Eisenstein

Michael Ling, Deputy Company Secretary of CLP Holdings, is being recognized by Diligent’s Modern Governance 100 program. The Modern Governance 100 is a community of general counsels, corporate secretaries and other governance professionals who have demonstrated resilience, dedication and empathy in the face of a complex and ever-changing world.

Michael Ling knows the unique challenges faced by the global energy sector – he also knows the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders are best supported by strong corporate governance.  As the global movement towards a de-carbonized future gains momentum and reliance on technology to drive innovation increases, CLP Holdings leaders have the vision to transition the Group into a utility of the future and corporate governance, being inextricably linked with the business, will have to evolve to the new standards and expectations.

For Michael, understanding the important issues and challenges facing our business, from disruption to traditional business models to ESG issues is just the starting point, as a governance professional who works with senior management and the Board, that understanding needs to be supplemented with an appreciation of how these issues are viewed by senior management, the Board and the investors.

Faced with new challenges, the organisation and the governance structure will need to be strategically aligned. “Having worked with the Board to introduce the Retirement Age Guideline for Non-executive Directors, we have seen a gradual refreshment of the Board and, in 2020, this has resulted in the Board’s appointment of two new Directors with experiences and backgrounds aligned to CLP’s strategic outlook. These initiatives have been well received by shareholders and investors,” says Michael.

Enthusiastic about embracing governance technology, Michael recommends that industry colleagues consider the upside of the opportunities and possibilities this creates for them: “A reliable and reputable digital Board Portal like Diligent is the way to go.  Timeliness is such an important characteristic for the modern Board. With Diligent, I can have the materials on the hour, load it up within five minutes and the Board or Committee can start a meeting one minute later. Gone are the days of building and updating paper Board packs.”

How Michael Uses Diligent

  • To centralise onboarding materials in one place that will provide new directors with a broad understanding of the role, culture and operations of the Board
  • To provide real-time updates to board packs, supporting director meeting preparation from their phones, tablets, computers, or even offline
  • To facilitate virtual board meetings and continue strategic decision-making even in times of crisis

A good Board Portal reinforces the confidence the Board place on, the governance professionals and, how technology can be applied in the governance context.  During the Covid-19 situation and with the work from home arrangements, Michael cannot imagine the challenges in a hard copy board pack environment.  For CLP Holdings, with our experience of going digital in our governance process, the continuation with a Hybrid AGM in Hong Kong during the pandemic was not a difficult decision and was one that received strong support from senior management and the Board.

On a lighter note, Michael is always pleasantly surprised when new joining CLP Directors and Executives are often glad to find out that CLP “also” uses the Diligent Board Portal similar to other board positions that they sit on.

About the Nominee

Michael Ling kicked off his global career in corporate governance two decades ago with roles in high-profile blue-chip organizations. He moved into the role of Legal Counsel in 2011 and was promoted to Deputy Company Secretary in 2016. In 2020, Michael was recognized by Diligent’s Modern Governance 100 program.

About CLP Holdings

CLP Holdings is a company listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.  The CLP Group is one of the largest investor-owned power businesses in Asia-Pacific with investments in Hong Kong, Mainland China, India, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Australia. Our business spans every major segment of the electricity value chain including retail, transmission and distribution, along with a diversified portfolio of generation assets. CLP takes a long-term view of our business and is committed to building a sustainable business fit for the future.

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Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.