With degrees in Arts, Education and a Masters of Business Administration (Diplomacy and Trade), Ali has held executive positions within the Victorian Public Service and Local Government. She is an accredited and experienced executive coach and mediator. She has successfully filled the role of Director on numerous boards across a range of areas including tourism and marketing, not for profit, health and community services.
Ali has had a progressive leadership career in infrastructure, strategic and statutory planning, operations, service delivery and business transformation. An authentic leader and outstanding communicator, Ali has achieved great outcomes for the boards, communities and organisations she has served. Ali is passionate about developing high performing teams and creating a workplace culture that is innovative, empowered, strategic, trusting and fun.
What boards do you sit on?
I currently sit on the board for Alexandra District Hospital.
When and why did you decide to become a director?
I have held a number of Director and board observer positions over the past decade across a range of different areas including health care, tourism, and library services. I was motivated to becoming a director as it provided me with an opportunity to give back to community and also serve my desire to be on a continuous learning curve.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
My short-term board aspiration is to add value to the organisations I currently serve. I strive to be innovative, outward looking and client focussed. Having held senior executive positions across a range of strategic and operational government portfolios has built my understanding of good governance, financial and risk management and the importance of setting strategy and measuring outcomes that are aligned to purpose.
Outline your career background.
My career has been defined by a desire to help others and see people reach their potential. I taught French and Psychology for five years in Melbourne before joining the Victorian Public Service at the then Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission as an economic policy advisor. I held several senior positions within various Government Departments and Statutory Agencies prior to making the move to Local Government. After eight years at Yarra Ranges Council as Director Social and Economic Development, I have recently been appointed Director, Community Services at City of Melbourne where I am responsible for a large portfolio including Arts Melbourne, Social Policy, Reconciliation, Health and Wellbeing, Recreation Services and Homelessness.
I am a strong believer in continuous learning whether it be informal or formal education. Whilst teaching, I knew quite early on that I was unlikely to be held by the profession forever. I went back to university and completed a MBA (Diplomacy and Trade) at Monash University. In recent years, I have become an accredited executive coach and qualified mediator. I have had some excellent mentors who have stretched my thinking and supported my growth at key junctures of my career
Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
Perseverance is key to securing a board position. I have yet to meet a board director who secured the first board position they applied for. They are probably out there, but most of us have to make several attempts. A willingness to be an observer Director is a great way to gain experience and show others that you are willing to commit.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
During my career, I have been fortunate to have worked with some outstanding leaders. The defining characteristics that set these leaders apart is they lead with integrity and they value their organisation’s most important asset above anything else; that is their employees and the customers they serve. They also live the values through their everyday actions of the organisation they lead.
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
My sponsors have supported me to grow into the role and have taken a coaching philosophy with me. They have supported me find my next challenge whether that be stepping into a new role, redesigning a service, undertaking a large change management for the organisation or overseeing a 600+ workforce.
What’s the diversity (gender & other) like on your boards?
The current board I sit is a highly capable board with diverse skills sets and experience. It is also reflective of the community it serves and has a good gender balance. Other boards I have sat on have lacked diversity from a gender, age, geographic, and race perspective.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
I loved reading about the success of women being appointed to Boards through WOB. The Snap function is excellent and the weekly board appointment updates provided me with the motivation to keep going through with the process.
Interview published: August 2018