Founder and Director Amber Daines is a former TV and print journalist and corporate communications expert with over 20 years of local and international experience in the worlds of traditional media, PR, fundraising and relationship marketing in the government, business and creative arenas. Amber holds a BA Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), where she majored in Journalism and Asia Pacific politics, a Masters of Arts from the University of New South Wales and Certificate IV in Workplace Training & Assessment (Train the Trainer) from UTS.
Amber has been a four-time nominee in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards and was a 2015 National Finalist in the Flying Solo Business Awards. A podcaster, regular media commentator, MC, guest speaker and business presenter, Amber has also written a number of PR and media industry related articles. Her second best-selling book and six part video series from 2015 are called ‘Well Said: How to be heard in Business and Generate Real Influence’. As of February 2018, she sits as a non-executive director on two boards – Women for Election Australia and the International Football and Tennis School.
What boards do you sit on?
I currently sit on two boards – Women for Election Australia (WFEA) and the International Football and Tennis School.
When and why did you decide to become a director?
I had been running my own successful, award winning PR and media skills agency for a decade when it occurred to me to think about the next decade of big life/work goals. A friend had a spare seat at a director course and I literally decided to turn up, not knowing what to expect. It was a turning point some 18 months ago as I liked the notion of a board career instantly. I quickly found the scope of skills needed for modern boards was changing – and not just legal and HR functions were in demand, and suddenly being a female under 40 was a desirable factor!
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
I have my hands full as a non-executive director for two boards that are keeping me busy. I would really like to get an ASX board role in the next few years.
outline your career background.
I am a former TV and print journalist who moved into PR around 17 years ago. I am now known as a corporate communications expert with over 20 years of local and international experience in the worlds of traditional media, PR, fundraising and relationship marketing in the government, business and creative arenas. I have BA Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), where she majored in Journalism and Asia Pacific politics, a Masters of Arts from the University of New South Wales and Certificate IV in Workplace Training & Assessment (Train the Trainer) from UTS. Plus now I am a MAICD.
outline the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
I think getting a first role is the hardest. I have been persistent and focused on NFP boards for now – to get up to speed on the roles and processes as a director. The reality is you need to create a board hunt strategy – tell everyone in town you want a board position and be prepared to join an unpaid board for the first stages.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
There are many who only come to mind because of controversy or a so-called fall from grace. I always think there are great boards who have great outcomes, but something gets in the way when that happens – either complacency, fear, greed or all of the above.
The ones I have admired include Jenny Morris, founder and Chair of WFEA – she started the organisation and formed her first board from a seed of an idea a few years ago – with a view to get more women into public office. That takes courage and a big vision! I also admire Simon Mordant, and David Gonski for their contributions to art and education.
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?&
So many! The ones who that have stood out are Kylie Green, a friend and an informal mentor, who has always show and advised me on how to strive for better and bigger outcomes no matter what. The other was my former coach Helen Treloar who was all about changing mindsets and using NLP for that when my business was at a cross roads some years ago.
What’s the diversity like on your boards?
Indeed, WFEA needs to get some men on board. We are trying and actively recruiting but it seems for now have a handful of middle aged women only being recruited successfully– we are all quite different that said. We also have some younger subcommittee members which is a great result. For IF&S it is diverse and there is a group of men and women equally split – but I’d like to see more cultural diversity too which is always key.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
I saw the IF&S ad on WOB this year, after I had met with one of their board the year prior through another work connection – it helped me know they still sought a new director.
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
1. Do a board room basics course like the AICD one – it’s expensive, a tad boring but necessary
2. Package up your skills and knowledge into a kick ass board CV
3. Be prepare to ask for board introductions
4. Women on boards often work for free – see it as a short term lead to director fees, if that is what you seek
5. Always your due diligence on the board you are joining, as we have very specialist legal and financial responsibilities that mean you are taking on more than a job
6. Network with your board hat on – use WOB, AICD, friends, your own business connections and groups.