Emma Bull

Emma is a professional advocate, specialising in public policy, politics and strategic campaigning.

Currently the Head of Political Engagement for Oxfam Australia, Emma tackles extreme poverty and inequality around the world by engaging and persuading decision-makers. She works to change minds, systems and lives.

She previously worked at Amnesty International, and spent 8 years as political advisor in the federal parliament and during that time campaigned to protect our environment, price pollution, label our food, get women into our corporate boardrooms and get kids out of detention.

She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, admitted to practice as a solicitor in NSW and holds a Masters of Public Policy & Politics.

What boards and committees do you currently sit on?

I’m currently on two not-for-profit boards of organisations working in areas close to my heart: gender equality and environmental sustainability.
I am a non-executive director of GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) which is Australia's only independent, not-for-profit, multi-sector sustainability and environmental certification ecolabel. I am also a founding Director of the newly established Women in Aid and Development networking circle.  We are a membership organisation which aims to share the skills, knowledge and experience of women in development, aid and humanitarian sectors to incite, inspire & support all women to pursue and succeed in leadership roles.

When and why did you decide to pursue boards?

I have always been interested in how and where decisions get made – be that the boardroom, the political Cabinet table or the kitchen table. So it really was inevitable I would be drawn to the board table, and as I transitioned from my early career choices in a new direction I found board roles a great way of trying a new industry and learning new skills.  

What challenges and hurdles have you had to overcome in pursuing board roles and/or serving on boards? 

My main hurdle was myself – I had to work hard to overcome the self-doubt that my accomplishments and skills weren’t going to be good enough. Some boardrooms can be intimidating and have you doubt whether you belong there so I tended towards being over prepared, always doing my homework to an A+++ level.  This meant I was sometimes giving more to the Board than was expected or needed.

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

I haven’t been lucky enough to have a mentor or sponsor yet. But I’d love to soon!

How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?

WOB helped show me that being on boards, and even making a career out of it, was realistic achievable for me. Browsing the positions vacant list and reading about other women’s success really opened my imagination to the diversity of positions available and pathways to get there.  

Any tips for women starting out their journey to the boardroom?

Not so much a tip but just a word of encouragement! Come and join us in the boardroom – it’s such a rewarding career step to take and you won’t regret it.