Sophie Ray

Non Executive Director, 2018

MME_Ray_Sophie.jpgSophie is an experienced company director who has worked in Australia and internationally across private and public businesses, professional services, and not for profits. She is Deputy Chair of Big Fat Smile and the Shoalhaven Women's Resource Group and a Director of Silos Estate Winery. Previously, she sat on the board of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Foundation and spent 14 years as a corporate lawyer in Australia & the UK. Sophie has particular skills in working with companies in highly regulated industries across a range of regulatory environments; and with companies with complex geographical spreads, workforces and stakeholders. She has lived and/or worked in the UK, China, France, Uganda and in both Sydney and regional NSW. Consequently, she brings a unique perspective and agility to the companies with which she works.

What are your goals for directorships / board roles?

I’m building a portfolio Board career across a range of sectors. In the short term, I’d like to find a role with a private company, ASX listed company or government Board.

What value did you see in accessing the formal, director-led peer-to-peer support provided by WOBSX to achieve these goals?

Having been out of the corporate sector for a few years, and living regionally, I was finding it hard to build my networks; and was also unsure about the steps I was taking to build my Board career. I felt that taking part in the WOBSX program would provide me with support and direction, and give me feedback. I also hoped that it would increase my networks with other women in Board and leadership roles.

What is the most valuable element of the program to date?

The individual mentoring and feedback; and the collegiality of the other participants. The one on one sessions with our ASX mentor (Jon Brett) and ongoing feedback from our facilitator (Dan Liszka) have been invaluable and have helped me to reframe what I offer to Boards and be more targeted in approaching Boards. The other participants have been so supportive and it is wonderful to have a confidential environment where you can ask questions, test ideas and share successes and failures.

What are you learning about serving on an ASX board?

I’ve learnt that serving on an ASX board can be fascinating and challenging. I’ve also learnt that getting on to an ASX Board is a job in itself, requiring lots of time in honing your CV and pitch, networking, and identifying and making contact with Boards you’re interested in.

What has impressed you about; a) the process, b) the syndicate leader and c) your fellow participants.

I think the process has been flexible enough to allow us, as a group, to mould our sessions to our own needs and interests. I’ve also been impressed at how proactive the whole WOBSX team has been in using their contacts to find great speakers, and spreading the word about us as individuals to their contacts to help us with finding roles. Our syndicate leader, Jon Brett, has been extremely generous with his time and very approachable. His straight forward, no nonsense style means you hear the unvarnished truth about what you’re doing, but he also gives lots of constructive suggestions and follows you up to make sure you’re acting on that feedback. My fellow participants are such an impressive group of women – from many different backgrounds, but all with a common interest in getting on ASX Boards. It would be easy, in those circumstances, for participants to feel like they’re competing with each other, but my experience has been the opposite. Every participant in my group has been generous and supportive and there has been genuine joy when people have had successes and genuine support when people are struggling. There has also been a lot of sharing of contacts and ideas within the group.

What is the best advice you can give someone who wants to apply for the WOBSX program?

Be very clear about why you want to do the program; and be prepared to put in some time between meetings to work on your offering and actively seek out ASX roles. And most of all, if you’re keen to do the program, put your hand up – don’t think that because you don’t fit a particular ASX mould, you won’t be suitable for the program.

ENDS - September 2018