The course facilitator shares her passion for governance and outlines the challenges and opportunities facing directors.
Company Director (CD): What is your background and how did you come to be a facilitator?
Anne Skipper (AS): My original profession was nursing which morphed into a career in public relations specialising in health services. About 30 years ago, I transitioned to corporate governance. This was more opportunistic than planned, as it followed a long association at board level with a local not-for-profit (NFP) and then an invitation to chair a large health board for the South Australian government.
While I had health sector knowledge and some board experience, I wanted to learn more about governance and how effective boards really worked so I took the Company Directors Course (CDC) and also studied effective leadership and dynamics of boards and teams in the US.
This became the basis for my career as a company director on NFP, private and government boards; and also as a governance consultant and facilitator.
As with most Company Directors’ facilitators, I was recommended by a colleague. I found that my style connected with participants, possibly because my career had a practical rather than a purely theoretical starting point.
CD: What do you enjoy most about facilitating for Company Directors?
AS: I find the most enjoyable part is the diversity of people — each group is unique, so my challenge is to engage the group by relating to their own experiences while pitching the learning so that it applies to their industry and particular circumstances. The “art and science” of teaching really interests me.
One of the privileges of facilitating is that I get to meet a wealth of talented and experienced directors; this is especially so when I facilitate International CDC and Mastering the Boardroom. I learn so much from their stories and experiences.
CD: What do you believe are the benefits of undertaking professional development?
AS: In the context of becoming a company director and specifically becoming and remaining effective, it is vitally important that your skills and expertise as a director remain relevant. Legislation and governance are constantly changing, therefore every director needs to stay abreast of these changes and continue to hone their skills.
Directors also need to be cognisant of emerging trends, risks and opportunities for the sectors they represent.
CD: What do you foresee as the biggest challenges for directors over the coming year?
AS: The incredibly fast pace of change and disruptors of the structures as we know them. We all know in every business sector, technology is a game changer, however it’s whether directors approach this as an opportunity or a risk that will make the difference to the performance of their business.
Globalisation and emerging global economies with different governance and ethical standards are also challenges for many Australian companies. With that come new risks such as cyber fraud and the need for even greater compliance measures to counter risks.
CD: What are your directorships?
AS: I am chair of the Silver Chain Group, a large NFP community-based healthcare organisation. I am also a director of People’s Choice Credit Union; Tonkin Consulting, a private engineering organisation; Central Adelaide Hills Medicare Local; and Plan International, an international non-government and rights-based organisation that supports children in poverty through education and advocacy. I am also a director of Plan Hong Kong.
CD: What drives you?
AS: As a company director I am committed to leading change to ensure businesses are sustainable. I am passionate about making a difference in everything I undertake — which means as a director and chair of boards I look to “add value” by working with others to embrace good decisions and outcomes for the organisations. When I eventually step down from a board, I like to think that my initiatives have added to the organisation’s long-term viability and that I have contributed positively to its culture.
CD: What are your passions outside of work?
AS: I enjoy cycling, although the company of my cycling buddies and coffee is often more enjoyable than the ride itself. I also enjoy yoga and trekking. My greatest passion however is travelling to the many and varied countries that Plan International works with and sitting under a tree sharing stories, laughter and insights with the women and children of those communities. It never ceases to amaze me that despite our different worlds, we have so much in common.
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