Helen Kurincic's board lessons


What can I contribute, and what can I learn? This is what everyone joining a board should ask, according to ASX director Helen Kurincic who was a guest speaker at Women on Boards' Directors Lunch at Clayton Utz in Melbourne on Thursday 3 August.


Helen Kurincic has had an impressive career, starting out as a nurse then moving into the corporate world, culminating as Chief Operating Officer & Director at Genesis. She decided her time was up at Genesis after successfully setting up the Australian operation and deciding that she would not lead its international expansion (requiring loads of travel), given she had a young family.

Leaving to take a break she was quickly pursued for board roles, which has resulted in her building and impressive portfolio career in the health sector. In 2023 her roles include:

  • Board Chair McMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS)
  • Board Chair Integral Diagnostics Limited (ASX:IDX)
  • Non Executive Director, Estia Health [ASX:EHE]
  • Non Executive Director, HBF Health

Something of a trailblazer, Helen was the first woman to simultaneously chair two ASX 300 boards.

In a humble and generous 70 minute speech to the WOB crowd at the lunch, Helen’s key messages were:

  • When taking on a board role, Helen’s always asks herself two key questions: What can I contribute? What can I learn?
  • Helen also shared her experience on the role of Chair, including the differences between the role of a Non Executive Director and the Chair and the different preparation required for each role.
  • The Chair needs to be outcome focused - you set the agenda to get outcomes - and to be able to facilitate and draw input from all board members.
  • Helen also talked about the role of the Chair in appointing and managing the CEO, and how she goes about this.
  • Why asking the right questions is so critical.
  • The importance and time required for proper stakeholder management.

Other pearls of wisdom included:

  • The need to be patient when pursuing a board career. It’s a long journey and takes years.
  • When looking to join a board, ask 'What’s my value add and capability?' Look at the board's skills matrix and find the gaps.
  • The value of networking to seek new ideas and perspectives and to pick people’s brains.
  • Ultimately you always need to perform well and do the work.

With special thanks to our hosts Clayton Utz.

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