Juggling Governance

A diverse group of WOB members enjoyed hearing how governance guru, Trisha Mok, juggles two board roles, four committees, a full-time executive position and Oscar (seven-year-old son) at a lunch in Sydney last week.
Guests at the Clayton Utz lunch included Julie Routledge, who has spent the past 12 years sailing her 54-foot ketch around the world and doing good works in Africa and Christine Pope, recently appointed to the board of small business advocacy organisation, COSBOA.
They were hosted by Alison Woolsey, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Clayton Utz, who briefly outlined how the the firm was on track to meet its target of 35% female partners by 2022; and was working to meet the Law Council of Australia’s Equitable Briefing Policy, which includes the target of briefing female counsel in at least 30 per cent of all matters and paying 30 per cent of the value of all brief fees by 2020.
Trisha, who is Senior In-House Counsel and Company Secretary ANZ for international education provider Study Group, spoke about her early career as a junior lawyer in Melbourne before taking a ‘gap year’ in London at the age of 28, where she landed a job with the BBC. It was the late 1990s and the Internet had only just been launched, Google was yet to be heard of and digital meant TV, radio, CDs and video. However, it did fuel her interest in technology which she has successfully combined with her strength across all areas of corporate governance in her professional and board roles.
Returning somewhat reluctantly to Australia, Trisha found herself working for the ‘rivers of gold’ company, Sensis (the Yellowpages) where she again hit on a sector that had future relevance. Sensis collected and stored huge amounts of data – virtually every small to medium sized enterprise in Australia - and the business required skills in logistics, sales and dealing with clients.
The story of Sensis of course is that it missed the Google threat (Sol Trujiillo famously uttering the immortal words “Google schmoggle”), built Whereis to a $100 million business unit and rapidly lost market share and relevance. As Trisha said, “it taught me there is a time to hold and a time to sell.”
Short stints at Bupa and HPAL followed which corresponded with her completing a Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance at The Governance Institute – winning the Ian Falconer Rio Tinto prize. This led to a 10 year involvement with the GIA, including being invited to step onto the national board in 2009 before serving a term as President in 2015.
Trisha told the audience she had doubted her capacity but was told by the then chair “We will help you – we will not let you let fail”.
“This led me to understand to look very carefully at who is around the board table – will you have support as the baby director, will you have a buddy, be inducted and is there a succession plan?”
Trisha remains active in the GIA as Chair of the Chant Legacy and Scholarship Award Committee but has moved into new roles as the first Independent Director Australian Traditional Medicine Society and, recently, to yourtown (formerly Boystown), a very large Australian charity working with marginalised youth.
Trisha is a prolific user of social media, in particular Twitter (@trishamok) and uses it to build her connections and networks. She is on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trishamok/
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