Chair’s Mentoring Program: Q&A with Janette Kendall FAICD

Friday, 28 October 2016

Janette Kendall FAICD photo
Janette Kendall FAICD
Non-Executive Director, Wellcom Worldwide

    No matter how experienced you are as a director, it is always helpful to have someone guide you through the complex dilemmas faced in the boardroom. The Chair’s Mentoring Program introduces highly experienced female directors to chairs of ASX 200 boards for a year-long mentoring relationship. We spoke to one of this year’s mentees, Janette Kendall FAICD, a non-executive director of ASX-listed company Wellcom Worldwide and the Melbourne Theatre Company.

    AICD Chairman Elizabeth Proust on the Chair’s Mentoring Program4:07

    AICD: You have a successful and extensive board career spanning 23 years across the NFP, private and listed sectors. What did you get out of the program?

    Janette Kendall (JK): The program provided me with valuable insights into the selection and appointment process for ASX200 roles. My mentor helped me identify companies where my experience and skills, particularly in business and marketing strategy, digital transformation and China would best align and where I could potentially add the greatest value. Our conversations were at a very different level to those conversations you have as an executive. As potential board roles arose throughout the year, my mentor was also a great sounding board in my evaluation of these opportunities.

    The supplementary sessions held by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) over the course of the program helped me think more strategically about the development of my board portfolio. The Chairs leading these sessions were generous and candid in providing practical advice and tips in developing a balanced portfolio along with sharing their views on how to be an effective director. This helped me develop a framework to evaluate and review companies and their board composition.

    AICD: Why do you think it is important – for even the most experienced directors – to remain committed to their director professional development?

    JK: Throughout the year the program provided the opportunity and context to step back and assess my skills and experience, identifying gaps and areas for development to become an even more effective director.

    I believe it is extremely important even for experienced directors to remain committed to their director professional development. We are living in a time major change – not only in terms of digital transformation and globalization, but also significant cultural and generational change. Together with a constantly evolving regulatory environment, directors and businesses are faced with new issues and challenges. We therefore need to be continually developing our skills to ensure we remain contemporary and relevant, and add value in this dynamic environment.

    AICD: How important are the connections you make when it comes to pursuing a career as a professional company director? How did participating in the Program help to open doors for you?

    JK: I have developed wonderful connections over the course of the program with Chairs, non-executive directors and the other mentees that have opened many doors.

    Expanding my network has provided the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others, together with helping me to identify opportunities and raise awareness of my interest and availability to be considered for roles. Hearing first-hand of other’s experiences and challenges has been extremely valuable.

    I have built a fairly extensive network throughout my executive career having worked in multiple industries both here in Australia and China, however making connections with chairs and other non-executive directors during the program has been invaluable in building my board portfolio.

    AICD: You have a strong background in marketing, digital and technology, and communications at a number of large organisations. What value do you find your experience in these fields brings to your roles in the boardroom?

    JK: As a marketer, I bring to the board a depth of experience in developing marketing strategy together with a strong customer perspective. Given marketing is a key part of business strategy and a driver of growth, I believe it’s crucial for boards to have a depth of understanding and oversight in this area. With my background in both operations and marketing, I have a strong understanding of the importance of aligning the marketing strategy with the financial objectives of an organization, together with ensuring the right measures are put in place to monitor performance, particularly around customer experience, customer satisfaction and ROI.

    My experience working with many companies both in Australia and China, developing and positioning their brands, and how they attract, engage and create loyalty with customers is a key focus. In addition, my experience in digital marketing brings an understanding of how digital disruption has significantly changed how organisations connect and engage with their customers. My understanding of the rise of social media helps identify new opportunities, together with understanding the elevated reputational risks facing organisations in this context.

    Janette has been a non-executive director for over 23 years. She is currently on the board of ASX-listed companies Costa Group Holdings, a horticulturalist and produce supplier, Wellcom Worldwide, a leading production agency, the Melbourne Theatre Company and the MTC Foundation. Janette brings a wealth of experience as a marketing, digital and operations executive, including in China, to her board roles.

    To read more about this year's mentees, download the 2015/2016 Chair's Mentoring Bio Booklet below:

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