Guest speakers inspire at WOBMeet events


From a coal miner’s daughter who negotiated the Kyoto Protocol to South Australia’s highest ranking female police officer, Women on Boards welcomed 10 inspiring speakers for the latest WOBMeet networking events held across the country.


More than 140 WOB members attended the insightful networking evenings which were held in five states. Government Boards were up for discussion with our expert panellists at in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney while guests in Adelaide heard from SAPOL Deputy Commissioner Linda WIlliams and Perth WOB members were joined by experienced NED Fiona Payne.

Government Boards in focus

In Sydney, WOB’s Claire Braund and Angela Bowen were joined by Meg McDonald, an experienced NED and senior executive in energy, renewables and resources and financial sector and NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust Deputy Chair, Virginia Malley. 

“It was a terrific and thoughtful discussion, with lots of takeaways,” said Claire. “It cemented for me just how special the WOB network is and how enriching it is to see people again after years online.”

One first-time attendee commented after the event: “I was inspired from the moment I walked through the door! Meg and Virginia didn't disappoint. Their stories and experiences were engaging and inspiring. Their insights and guidance are invaluable. A shout out to my fellow attendees who were warm and approachable, and it was all the more interesting as we came from different professions, experiences and backgrounds.”

Meanwhile in Brisbane, WOB’s Queensland representative Anna Hebron facilitated a panel discussion with Sara Zeljko, Cate Jolley and Jon Hottot. The evening, which Anna described as “inspiring and insightful” was hosted by McGrathNicol. 

“Top tips from me were to pick up the phone, build relationships and connections around topics or organisations of interest, be prepared, be curious, be patient and know your board value proposition,” said Anna.

In Melbourne, guest speakers Margaret Donnan, Susan Benedyka and Jen D'Arcy-Smith were on a panel, facilitated by WOB's Nicole Donegan. A special thank you to hosts Denise Brotherton, Maria Jockel and Shannon Wilkie from WOB Corporate Member BDO in Australia.

Police perspective

SAPOL Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams was the guest speaker at the Adelaide WOBMeet, hosted by WOB’s SA representative Wendy Teasdale Smith and hosted by Andreyev Lawyers.  

“Linda was just a fascinating speaker,” said Wendy. “She really provided a different perspective and I really enjoyed hearing about how she, along with the Commissioner, shows such wonderful leadership to SAPOL. It was a really great example of team leadership. They clearly work very well together! It was great also to see Grant Stevens the Commissioner in attendance and offering his support.”

Portfolio NED tips

Meanwhile in WA, Fiona Payne shared her story of becoming a portfolio NED in the human services sector. She also shared the following tips:

  • Look for activities you are doing now, or have done (right back to at school) where you’ve demonstrated leadership. What particular strengths did you bring to the table in those examples… use these to help build out your value proposition to a board.
  • Talk to recruiters regularly, every 6-12 months to stay on their radar. Look them up on Linkedin or attend AICD events for example.
  • Starting out on committees is a great way to build experience. And vice versa for boards keen to boost their diversity, use committee positions to test out candidates.
  • Choose a board that aligns with your values and passion because… your first (3yr typically) term you’ll learn the ropes, the second you’ll really add value, and the third you’ll mentor others coming onto the board.
  • Diversity and inclusion on boards often requires work and effort to foster, because different ways of seeing and doing things can lead to difficult conversations. But ultimately when you slow down and bring everyone along on the journey it leads to greater perspective and a higher performing team.
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