INSEAD Participant Interview

Effective Governance in the Banking Sector

John Georgoulas

Board Member of Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC)

Board member John Georgoulas describes how INSEAD’s International Directors Banking Programme gave him the tools to enhance his knowledge in the banking sector and improve his performance as a director.


Please introduce yourself and describe your current role.

Originally, I studied Business Administration and Computer Science. Since then, I’ve gained deep experience in strategic planning, finance, public and government relations in both Greece and Cyprus.

I currently wear a number of hats, career-wise, but a key role is sitting on the board of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC). We’re the financial regulator tasked with supervising the investment services market, transactions in transferable securities and the collective investment and asset management sector. Our mission is to ensure investor protection and develop the securities market in Cyprus

With all your experience, why did you decide to go ‘back to business school’ via an executive education programme?

I wanted to learn new tools that would help me improve my performance and make better decisions as a CySEC board member. I also wanted to gain an overview of the competencies expected from directors more generally. Cyprus is a relatively small country, so I felt some big-picture insights into how boards operate in a global banking context would be valuable. 

Were you facing any specific challenges in your role that motivated you to enrol on the International Directors Banking Programme (IDBP)?

Yes, I particularly wanted to update myself on new trends shaping and influencing the banking sector. CySEC doesn’t regulate banks, but we do deal with investors’ issues. That can involve companies that are listed — including banks. So, I felt I could benefit from a deeper understanding of the pressures such institutions must deal with in today’s more complex and unpredictable banking world.

I also wanted to learn how to communicate better with my fellow board members and hone my ability to ask more incisive questions. 

Why did you choose INSEAD’s International Directors Banking Programme, specifically, to help you address your challenges?

I was initially drawn to the IDBP largely because of INSEAD’s reputation as one of the world’s top business schools. I hoped that by completing a programme at such a prestigious institution, I’d gain a competitive edge that would help me move forward with my career.

What did you think about the programme faculty?

Top notch. Both of the INSEAD professors running the programme are very well connected to the global market and so were able to bring real-life experiences and a hands-on approach to the classroom.

What about the modular structure?

I’m a busy person with lots of demands on my time so the fact that the three programme modules are spread out over several months was ideal. It meant that for each one, I didn’t have to stay away from my desk for too long. What’s more, I had time in between each module to go back and apply what I’d been learning in my actual work environment.

I was also impressed by the overall programme ‘flow,’ which developed logically and built momentum in a way that kept me engaged.   

How would you describe the impact and key benefits of the programme?

It’s helped me a lot. I feel I gained the nuanced insights and detailed understanding of how effective boards operate that I needed to formulate the right questions and make fairer, more balanced decisions in my CySEC role.

In that sense, I think the programme’s made me not only a better director, but a better person — I certainly have more patience during board meetings! 

The hands-on nature of the experience, including the board simulation exercise that we did, was another major highlight. 

It was also great to come into contact with senior peers from all over the world, working on the same kinds of problems. In fact, being able to hear their perspectives and insights was another highlight of the course. I’m still in regular touch with a number of my fellow participants around the world.

What would you tell other people thinking about enrolling on the programme?

I’d highly recommend it as an opportunity to update your understanding of governance effectiveness and gain the tools to better exercise your responsibilities as a director. Or to put it another way, I’d tell them that the programme is a real gem. 

Click here to find out more and to enrol on the International Directors Banking Programme.

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