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AICD Experienced Director profile interview

What do you think are the foundations of being a good director?

The Board plays an important role in setting the tone of an organisation or business. I believe that directors need to operate from a strong values base and that there needs to be an alignment between the values of individual directors and the organisation. Directors need to operate with strong integrity and ethics and be good listeners. They need also to demonstrate independent thinking and have the courage to ask difficult questions as well as speak up and make the tough discussions. Good judgement in decision-making is critical yet is not without risk. I also believe that curiosity and openness to learn from others is important.

Based on your experiences, what is the best advice you can give to aspiring directors?

Be clear about why you want to be a director. For example – know what you are passionate about and work out which type of boards and industries match your knowledge, experience and skill set. Building your personal brand is critical and this takes time and energy, in most cases, a life time. A good starting place is regular networking at AICD or industry events and talking with experienced Directors who are generally very happy to share their experience and provide invaluable advice. The AICD Company Director’s Course and the Emerging Leader’s Program run by the Young Leader on Aged Care and Community Boards are both opportunities to learn more about directorship. Finally, I would strongly recommend finding a mentor. If you don’t already have one. I’ve gained greatly from the 10+ year member of The Executive Connection (TEC) which is an international membership for CEOs and business leaders.

 What is the best piece of advice you have received over the years and by whom?

I’ve had lots of good advice over the years and have always tried to learn from it and put it into practice. As a lifelong learner Ia m always open to new ideas and opportunities.

I have a number of favourite quotes that guide my behaviour and actions. A couple of key quotes are: ‘People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care’ (unknown), and ‘A leader is best when people barely know they exist, when their work is done, their aim fulfilled, they say we did it ourselves’ (Lao Tsu). People who know me well would say would say that both quotes are reflective of my behaviour as a leader.

While it’s not actually advice, our approach at Holyoake where I am the CEO, is very aligned to my own philosophies about life. Our approach in non-judgemental, we respect and accept the place that each person is at and we encourage self-responsibility. We all travel a fine line in life where at any point in time our circumstances can change and we can find ourselves on the other side of the line needing assistance.

Who do you admire – either a Director or business leader and why?

I think there are many amazing and talented people who fit into this category however, the person I admire the most is my mother, who passed away nearly 20 years ago but still has a lasting impact on my life. My mother was a tireless volunteer in the community, a caring person who loved people and loved to help others. Everyone loved her. My desire to serve and to make a difference in people’s lives comes from the gifts my mum has given me.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My work life is pretty busy and likely to be even busier in the next 12 months since winning the Telstra WA Business Women of the Year 2015 Award in October. I also do quite a lot of pro bono mentoring for the School for Social Entrepreneurs and AIM as well as other groups. When I’m totally free I like to spend time with family and friends, travelling down south and overseas, going to the movies, reading and I find shopping very relaxing!

What has been your best career decision?

I’ve been very fortunate in that I have always loved the work I’ve done, no matter where I have been working and regardless of the role. To me, there is no single best career decision, it’s always been a journey of discovery and opportunity. Whenever I have been ready, a new opportunity has appeared. My career hasn’t been planned, it has just happened and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Summer 2015