Anita Hargreaves is an experienced senior executive with a track record of successfully leading corporate divisions in various public service organisations and implementing strategic change programs and currently transitioning to a portfolio career.
Anita has diverse experience which has been obtained from the private and public sectors in Sydney, Western Australia and Canberra and includes strategy development, financial and human resource management, corporate governance, and change management / organisational improvement.
As a senior executive Anita has presented financial strategy and advice together with reports on finance, human resources, governance and change management to Boards, Chief Executives and government Ministers. Her public sector roles have included: Executive Director Corporate Services; Chief Financial Officer; Director Change Management; Director Workforce and Governance; Director Accounting.
Anita believes her greatest achievement as a senior executive has been the structural and functional realignment of government organisations, where she was successful in implementing the changes within agreed timelines, budget, and with staff and union support. Her success is attributable to involving key stakeholders, management and staff in organisational change, and having a genuine interest in people.
Anita is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Economics degree, majoring in accounting, from the Australian National University.
What boards do you sit on?
Board Member and Treasurer of Pro Musica
Inc trading as Canberra International Music Festival and Chair of its Compliance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.
I am a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand Disciplinary Tribunal.
I have been prequalified as an Independent Audit and Risk Committee Member for the NSW Government’s Prequalification Scheme: Audit and Risk Committee Independent Chairs and Members. (Both through WOB.)
When and why did you decide to become a director?
My passion is continual improvement, not only with myself, but with people and organisations. In 2015, to better understand the responsibilities of board members and to improve how and what was being reported to the Board, I undertook the Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). It was at this time, I made the conscious decision that when I retire from the ACT Public Service that I would still like to make a difference by utilising my diverse skills and experience by becoming a member of boards and committees where the organisation concerned provides a service to the Australian community.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
My short-term board aspiration is to become a member of a board(s) providing a service to the Australian community. My medium-term goal is to become a board member of a publicly listed company.
Outline your career background.
I am a Chartered Accountant and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. I have obtained my diverse experience in both the private and public sectors in Sydney, Western Australia and Canberra in various sectors.
My employment history can be summarised as follows:
- senior accountant within professional accounting firms;
- tax and commercial consultant for an international publishing company;
- business manager for international recruitment companies;
- senior manager within ACT Government; and
- senior executive within ACT Government.
I have worked within ACT Government for sixteen years, ten of which have been as a senior executive. My senior executive roles have involved providing financial, corporate governance and human resource management and policy advice to the ACT Government, Directors-general / Chief Executive Officers, agency boards and agency audit and risk committees.
Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
For me the main challenge is effectively presenting yourself on paper to obtain the opportunity for an interview.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
Gail Kelly – former CEO of Westpac. I believe Gail is truly an authentic and inspirational leader. My mantra “love what you do, to bring a positive attitude to things, and to be prepared to dig deep and have a go” comes from Gail Kelly’s book, Live Lead Learn
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
I have been fortunate to have had excellent mentors who were usually my direct supervisors. Each and every one of them have helped me become the very best version of myself which has led me to be a successful senior executive.
What’s the diversity (gender & other) like on your boards?
I am pleased to say that the Boards I have reported to have had an excellent diversity of skills and mix of gender.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
The list of board positions has undoubtedly helped me secure my first committee position. I also enjoy reading the success stories.
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
Regardless of where you are in your career, I believe you need to know the following:
- What is your organisation trying to achieve – tell the story, know the story
- What are you trying to achieve in your organisation
- When you are supervising people, you should know your people and where they are at, you need to like people
- Always be prepared – anticipate your world, be able to answer the 3rd and 4th question, not just the 1st and 2nd