Aspiring directors and boards are benefiting from this successful AICD WA development program, reports Narelle Hooper MAICD.

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    AICD WA has run an annual Director Pipeline Program (DPP) since 2011. It provides annual development opportunities for around 40 emerging women leaders. These help them understand what is required of boards and directors, assist with developing appropriate CVs and gives the women a chance to reflect on their own career goals and deepen their professional networks.

    Since the program began, more than 200 women have participated. A recent survey of participants found 76 per cent had secured board positions and 82 per cent had completed their Company Directors Course. It now runs an alumni program.

    ”We no longer have a supply problem of ‘board-ready’ women in WA. The quality of those who have participated in the DPP are exceptional,” says AICD WA state manager Jody Nunn.

    AICD WA is expanding the program in a partnership with AusIMM, the Minerals Institute, to include women mining leaders.

    Company Director spoke to five recent participants who said it gave them the opportunity to broaden their network and reflect on their career and development.

    Tania Lawrence GAICD is senior manager, global business integration at Woodside Energy and has 20 years senior State and Commonwealth government and international industry experience. Her previous board roles include Motorcycling Australia and Oceania President of the Motorcycling Federation.

    “I was looking for an opportunity to meet other women in a similar career position as me and to be part of a cohort because in my professional career there weren’t many women. I wanted to expand my network and build my professional understanding. It makes you honest about your gaps and where you need to close them, such as getting operational experience and having P&L accountability. It triggers the next conversation.”

    Liza Dunne GAICD is CEO of the Australian Alzheimer’s

    Research Foundation and has headed up an early stage medical technology company. She is a former managing director of ASX-listed Resonance Health Limited. She says the program has helped in making sure she had the right skills at the board table and in getting clarity on the kind of position and organisations she’d like to be involved in.

    “The program also makes you allocate time to stop, think and reflect on where you’re at.”

    Jennie Milne AAICD is general manager human resources with WA’s Royal Automobile Club (RAC) and a former software engineer with a science and mathematics background.

    “Often we are all working head-down and haven’t put as much time into development as we should have. We had a variety of directors speak to us. The authenticity of the session was an absolute highlight. We heard warts and all, what to look out for, the good experiences and bad.”

    Hayley Corman GAICD is a senior associate with Clayton Utz and president of the Law Society of WA who has had more than a decade of commercial and professional negligence litigation experience. She did the Company Directors Course in 2012 and says it came highly recommended.

    “This program broadens your thinking. There are lot of diverse people participating who have things to offer outside our traditional areas of responsibilities.”

    Cheryl Chan GAICD is legal counsel Asia Pacific with BP Australia and has extensive commercial experience across oil and gas, retail, financial services, health, education and government. She is chair of a school board and a non-executive director of Cancer Council WA.

    “I like the strategy and risk aspects. What I like about board roles is that it is your baseline. You are spotting that risk, but it is exciting to be part of developing the culture and strategy.”

    Chan has a metaphor for the program which will please pizza lovers.

    “I see this program as a supreme pizza. To be a good director you need to have a strong base — your skills and experiences and what you bring to the table. The ingredients on the pizza are the different networks that you build. The cheese is your political savviness — how you conduct yourself and how you bring those networks together, particularly in WA.”

    Read the full Company Director On the Road in WA here.

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