WOB Members Choose to Challenge


This year Women on Boards celebrates International Women’s Day speaking to women in the WOB network who have chosen to challenge during their career.  Here’s what they had to say


Nadia Moffatt OAM

Chair, Governance Subcommittee, Brain Injury SA
NED, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)
Member, External Assurance Committee, Australia Commission for Safety & Quality in Healthcare


What have you challenged in your career?
I challenge the inconsistencies between policy and outcomes particularly around equal employment opportunity.  In my long career at work, I highlighted the extent of “unconscious bias”.  I use my personal experiences as a form of data to demonstrate the situation.  I have continued to work and advocate for change externally.  I am committed to achieving change.

I learnt that the barriers to change are systemic and complicated by people in positions of power “turf protecting” to stop change from happening.

Future challenges
I am being have taken time to reassess my approach to instigating change.  I am using my voice to highlight the issue.  I will continue to push for change.  The economic and cultural  benefits of change will be a tangible benefit for Australian society.  This is far too important to allow legacy systems to discourage me.

Listen to Nadia's podcast with Claire Braund here


Dagmar Nuemann

NED, Youth Law Australia
CIO Advisory, Executive
Member, CIO Executive Council Australia and NZ


What have you challenged in your career?
I have had a career during which I broke many glass ceilings and as such cannot easily call out one specific challenge towards my environment. I was always somebody that spoke her mind, spoke truth to power, with humour, and as such was appreciated but people might have said that I was challenging. But the one big challenge I want to call out was the one to myself: Realising my impostor syndrome, how much it had been holding me back, while also driving me forward, and how to deal with it.

I learned that most successful people suffer from impostor syndrome, that it can be an incredibly driving force and is frequently part of people’s success, and you need to be aware/understanding/accepting and start using it to your advantage.

Future challenges
The next challenge is a conscious and planned career change breaking through the glass ceiling of board appointments. Which I am quite the newbie at … . The other one is actually helping young women and sharing my experience and acquired confidence to inspire.

Lelde Smits

Director, Australian Shareholders Association
Co-founder and Executive Director, The Capital Network
Former Broadcast Journalist – Aust Fin Review, Modern Wall Street


What have you challenged in your career?
Having spent my career in the finance industry the biggest companies seem to have always had the loudest voices for social change and my challenge has been empowering smaller voices to speak and be heard. While we are often told "ESG [Environmental, Social & Governance] doesn't apply or interest smaller companies" I have created a new ESG digital education series to show how smaller companies are contributing to the conversation, and notably, aware of the importance of gender balance on boards and striving for inclusivity.

Creating an ESG digital education series highlighted how important environmental, social and governance issues are to the investment community, whether a company is big or small. For example Adriatic Metals Plc (ASX:ADT, LSE:ADT1) Managing Director and CEO Paul Cronin told me how the precious and base metals explorer and developer is leading the way with integrating ESG values into its operations. Through highlighting these voices who care about ESG I have learnt that business is changing, and the changes are for the better.

Future challenges
In the future I want to continue to challenge the belief that only big companies and budgets can create change. I am inspired by grassroots volunteer organisations and movements that advocate for positive social change. I see my challenges in contributing to this evolving discourse in a proactive way through including all voices, big and small, to share their leadership and inspire the next wave of leaders among us to work for good.

Claire Braund

Executive Director and co-founder, Women on Boards
Deputy President, Central Coast Conservatorium Inc
Former Board Member, The Women's Club


What have you challenged in your career?
The status quo. Male hegemony. Rules made for the sake of rules. Lack of gender balance on boards and in leadership roles. People who say things that are simply not true.

To enable your daughters at a young age (as I was) to have and use my voice. To shout across the supermarket aisle, to be loud in the park, to put your hand up and ask the hard questions and to stand up always when your beliefs and values are called into question. Farm life also taught me to have respect, be responsible and develop resilience. If you are going to be someone who poses challenges, then you need these qualities to survive.

Future challenges
Climate change. Democracy around the world.  The attack on truth and what is real versus what is felt and imagined. Rage and ongoing violence towards women. Adapting our culture and behaviour towards the changed roles for men, women and other genders. Workplaces and how we integrate these with homelife. Ensuring that 40% of all board, committee and leadership roles are held by women. Just a few to keep us all on our toes!

Listen to Claire's IWD2021 message here

Ruth Medd

Executive Chair and co-founder, Women on Boards
Board of Trustees, Historic Houses Trust of NSW
Chair, Australian Health and Science Institute
Chair, Australian Chocolate Company
Independent Chair, Noms Committee, Basketball Australia
Director, Women on Boards UK

What have you challenged in your career?
Persuading bosses to give me a go in an area where I did not have detailed subject matter experience.

Quite a lot; I had many opportunities to do new things.

Future challenges
My current board roles have the challenges of being start ups  - always a challenge.

Rowena Ironside

Non-Executive Director, Women on Boards Global
Co-founder, NED and past Chair, WOB UK
Steering Committee Member, THIS Institute (The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute)
NED, Digital Catapult
Former Chair and co-founder Women on Boards UK

What have you challenged in your career?
In 1988, perceptions of what a woman could do - at the Tokyo Grain Exchange, Japan.
Since 2006, ‘establishment’ objections to assisted dying as an essential part of choice and control at the end of life.
At Women on Boards, the ‘myths of merit’ underpinning the belief that the reason the boardroom is predominantly male is because men are better qualified than women to be there.

“Seeing is believing” - the power of new information to change minds.

Future challenges
Changing the widely-held belief that organisational purpose is incompatible with long-term value creation.

Fiona Hathorn

CEO WOB UK and co-founder
Advisory Council Member, Global Institute for Women's Leadership
Spktral, Advisory Board member
HANX, Chair Nominations Committee
City A.M, Author
Peel Hunt, Advisor
Fight for Sight, Patron and Fundraising and Marketing Committee Member
NED Awards, Judge

Listen to Fiona's IWD2021 message here

Cheryl Hayman FAICD

NED, Chair Remuneration and Nominations Committee, Shriro ASX:SHM
NED and Chair Remuneration and Nom Committee, HGL Limited
NED, Member People and Remuneration Committee, Chartered Accountants NZ
Council Member, HCF Australia
Board of Advisors, Digital Experts Advisory Committee
NED, Darlinghurst Theater Company
NED, Peer Support Australia
ASX Director

What have you challenged in your career?
The notion that people from non-traditional backgrounds, like mine in marketing, can break into the boardroom. I am many years into a fulfilling boardroom career and I am looking forward to many more. Diversity in all its forms is vital to business, so I am currently championing skills diversity - particularly for boards and companies that want to diversify, digitise and grow. I am loving the journey.

That diversity is all its forms delivers results in spades. That having a voice means you’re included and able to include others in the conversations and hopefully inspire other women directors to step forward, be bold and back themselves.

Future challenges
All of us - businesses, boards, leaders and individuals have work to do as we #choosetochallenge and not only embrace diversity, but cultivate it. I’m looking forward to future director roles where I can share my skills and expertise to help companies grow. At the same time, I’ll also be helping more women to do the same as me and achieve the career they aspire to, especially if that includes roles on boards.


Listen to Cheryl's podcast with Claire Braund 'Building an ASX Portfolio' here
Listen to Cheryl's podcast with Claire Braund and Gina McClement "The mentor experiencee' here
Read Cheryl's recent article 'Driving Transformative Growth' here
Read a case study with Leila Golchin & Cheryl Hayman about the mentor experience here

Carmel Macmillan FAICD

NED, Women on Boards
Board Member, The Mater Foundation
Board Member, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Queensland

What have you challenged in your career?
I have challenged the value that I believe I bring to the board room table, learning to be more authentic and genuine about my unique experiences.

Through completing the WOBsx program, I have re-evaluated my value proposition and the sectors I should target, becoming more confident in my abilities as a board director.

Future challenges
Learning to balance my board commitments and expand my portfolio whilst caring for an elderly parent.


Read Carmel's mentoring experience story "Unearthing bravery and old secrets" here

Mary Sue Rogers

Non Executive Director & Deputy Chair, Eas-West Seed
NED, Women on Boards
NED & Chair HR Committee, Save the Children Australia
Advisory Board Member, AIIR Consulting
Board Member, Inclusive Education
Activator, SheEO
What have you challenged in your career?
Being a first. The first women to be a consulting partner, the first female board member...

Someone has to be first - and diversity does make a difference

Future challenges
Getting the next generation of women leaders ready for their challenges.

Ruth Jones

Director, Global Markets, AVPN
Mentor, Women on Boards


What have you challenged in your career?
The challenge for me has been to acknowledge and understand what I bring to an organisation.

Be more confident in my own abilities.

Future Challenges
It never stops! The workplace is always challenging, filled with spoken and unspoken assumptions that call on our insight, experience and compassion.

Eva Heist

Corporate Partner and Member Manager, Women on Boards


What have you challenged in your career?
Challenging the level of care and support provided by our health system to pregnant women amid a (post-)covid baby boom (hence the influx of consumers) as part of my consumer-focused committee role.

Speak up and call out blind spots - change may come and someone is sure to benefit from it.

Future challenges
For 2021 I will challenge myself to continue to #choosetochallenge on all topics close to my heart including D&I, sustainability and health and play my role in initiating change.

Nicole Donegan

COO Women on Boards
Non Executive Director, Triathlon Australia


What have you challenged in your career?
Working in male dominated industries as a woman, managing children with work and the associated stigma of being a single mother for many years.

It’s important to be authentic and consistent in your dealings with people to earn their respect and trust.

Future challenges
Understanding Gen Z and beyond so that we can relate to them.  Ensuring that we maintain and open mind. Keeping up with change, which is, which seems to be faster than ever.

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