Mentored into a Board Role

Gina McClement credits amazing support through the WOB mentorship program for her success in achieving a board position on Basketball NSW, which she took up on 1 January 2019. She describes this as her first active directorship and is fullsome in her praise for WOB mentor, Cheryl Hayman.

1. Why choose B Ball NSW as your  your first serious board role

I spent a lot of time learning and educating myself, through formal and informal processes, on where my skill set and experience (both professionally and personally) would best support my success in securing my first Directorship.  I have a deep background in sport, sports marketing and sport participation. Sport is an area I have a lot to offer and it's also something I am passionate about with respect to the mental, physical and community benefits that sport facilitates. Australia is an incredibly high performing nation on the international basketball stage, so helping the sport grow at home was very appealing to me.  Additionally, it has some strong momentum to evolve and innovate in a highly competitive Australian sports marketplace, I was keen to help. 

2. How did having Cheryl as a mentor assisted you to gain this role?

Throughout my entire professional career and life really,  I have always been one to actively seek out mentors, whether on a formal program or via informal relationships. Pursuing a new career extension into the world of Directorship, was no different. I didn't hesitate to invest in the WOB Mentor Program.  Cheryl and I connected organically at a WOB event and self-selected each other as Mentor and Mentee. Cheryl's role was critical in securing the BNSW Directorship. Her guidance in developing my Director resume, analysing my skills and capabilities, focusing me on my own personal low hanging fruit, including me in her networks and sharing her personal experiences, fast tracked me to be ready to apply and interview successfully for roles.  Ultimately, she brought the BNSW role to my attention and said "you should go for this one." She was right!

3. What was the process like to go through?

Honestly, as a first timer, I just went with the flow.  Understanding that depending on the organisation, their structure and their current governance practises, the experience can vary greatly.  Also, my deep understanding of sport in Australia also managed my expectations. I had a key BNSW contact who was very communicative in the stages of the process, where things were at and timings.  I felt very informed the whole way along and I was clear on what they were looking for. I was appointed in September 2018 but officially would commence my role on 1 January 2019.  I had an invaluable on-boarding process, meeting key people, attending the state conference and observing in Board meetings. I felt lucky to be able to absorb so much information in the lead up to my formal appointment, particularly as this was my first serious Board role. I formally started my role, with a lot of knowledge and understanding of BNSW, the organisation.

4. Any tips for interview techniques?

Cheryl gave me some great advice, "be yourself and do your research." And thats exactly what I did.  As far as being myself, I owned what I had done in my career, my experience and my skills. If something came up that wasn't my expertise, I owned that too. My formal Director education also supported the "be yourself" advice as good Boards have strong diversity.  The skills matrix calls for a diverse group of people and that is exactly what BNSW were looking to achieve.  I researched heavily. Robyn Weatherley's book Eyes Wide Open has valuable check lists for various stages of interviewing to on-boarding and I did work through them. My interview panel was intimidating, but again I had received good advice from those in the know;  "Expect to be in rooms with impressive people, embrace and learn from them. Everyone was looking for their first Directorship once. Experienced Directors like to help." For me, all of that has been true and my research endeavours and preparation were valued by the interview panel.

I had set myself a 2018 goal, to be on my first board by the end of the year. I actively sought out and embraced all the education, support and wisdom that was on offer during my journey to achieve the goal. There is an enormous amount of resources and generosity out there and the WOB community was key.

Gina McClement
January 2019

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