Alicia Kent-Rooney's 'Golden Ticket': How I got my first board role

In early 2022, experienced education professional Alicia Kent-Rooney set herself one goal - to land her first board position. As she says, she "got the golden ticket straight up" on the board of YWCA Hunter. Not only did Alicia take her first steps into the boardroom, but it was also her dream organisation with an all female board and women-to-the-front agenda. Here Alicia - Head of Vocational Education Pathways at Arethusa College in Queensland and die-hard Eurovision fan - talks about getting her first board role, and why she gets up at 5 am once a year to drink lychee martinis.

What boards or committees are you currently on and why?

This appointment with YWCA Hunter is my first! But it certainly won't be my last. I listened to the advice from WOB when I began my search - 'take anything' - but I was lucky enough to get my secret wish list answered - female led, feminist agenda, not for profit.

What are the areas of expertise you feel you bring to your boards?

My selling points are education industry knowledge, organisation change experience, and the voice of the queer community.  

When and why did you decide to pursue boards?

I started thinking about it 2021 as an alternative to Doctoral studies. Something to stand out in my career. I then formalised it into a goal for 2022 when I joined a 'Goal Getters' group. Once you say it out loud, you need to be accountable for it. 

What challenges and hurdles have you had to overcome in pursuing your first board role?

How to find the right fit for someone looking for their first role. How to sell the transferable skills that I have into new areas. It was good timing that the YWCA Hunter was doing a board expansion and were happy to support first time directors in the name of diversity and inclusion. 

What do you most like about being on this board?

The YWCA is an all female identifying board and the sense of support, strength, and collective wisdom has floored me. I love contributing to something bigger than myself that directly and materially helps the women of the Hunter region. 

Have you had mentors and/or sponsors and have they helped you? If so, how?

Not specifically for board roles, but my professional mentor has always been generally supportive and encouraging. I now feel like the other directors on the board are a new set of cheerleaders and sponsors for each other. 

How has WOB helped you on your board journey?

I don't know what my board journey would have looked like without WOB. To have all the information aggregated in one place is incredibly helpful. The jobs board with the matching facility is also fantastic. 

What are the most useful skills which have helped in your board career?

Transferable skills - really listening without the intent to respond, organisational and personal psychology - what drives people to behave the way they do. And a broad base of worldly experience. 

What advice would you give someone else in your position?

The same as I was told - take whatever comes along!

What might people might not know about you?

I am a passionate Eurovision fan. We get up every year for the 0500 Sunday morning SBS session, make lychee martinis and cob loaf, play Eurovision bingo, laugh, cry, and cheer for every act. It is my FAVOURITE day of the year.

Connect with Alicia on LinkedIn HERE