Jenny Selway - transitioning to the NED world
Jenny Selway was appointed to the board of AgriBio, Centre for Agribioscience, a A$288 million public private partnership between the Government of Victoria, La Trobe University and the Plenary Group in early 2021. Jenny is new member with WOB and completed the CV Masterclass late last year, which gave her added confidence in her pitch for the role.
What led to your decision to transition from your successful career to being a NED?
The time to reflect during COVID, concern about climate risks and a desire more actively help support the sustainable energy transition led to my decision to leave my previous employer, ExxonMobil after a fulfilling 19-year career that gave me some amazing international opportunities.
As part of this career transition and given my experience on joint venture committees and management boards, I became interested in investigating NED opportunities and joined WOB and the AICD in Sept 2020.
Did you attend any WOB events?
I attended the “Get to know WOB” and “WOB member orientation” webinars which were very informative and pushed me to start scanning the board listings. Soon after, the AgroBio JV board position was advertised which I thought I would be well suited for given my joint venture management background and my interest in climate risk.
I updated my professional CV, wrote a cover letter explaining my JV background and sent it off. In November, I attended the extremely useful WOB CV workshop and learned about unique value propositions, personal branding, the importance of a board CV and transferable skills – all highly valuable lessons having had been with the same employer for 19 years!
Describe the interview process?
After the workshop I decided I was likely unsuccessful with AgrioBio given I applied with a professional CV and continued to look for other opportunities, however in early December I received a call that they would like me to come in for an interview – I believe due to my cover letter which explained my JV experience and how it would suit the role. When preparing for the interview the WOB CV workshop learnings provided me with the tools to explain how I could bring value to the role and sell my unique value proposition.
I also did extensive research into the AgrioBio facility, Agricultural research in Victoria, Public Private Partnerships and the contractual frameworks that govern them and the publicly available sections of the specific AgrioBio project plan which enabled me to come up with a list of potential concerns / issues that the board may have to deal with, and how my skills could assist.
I was quite nervous for the interview, having not had one since mid-way through my final year of uni, but it went smoothly with questions regarding when I had created transformative change, strategic thinking, governance / contract management /oversight examples etc. My background research and my ability to discuss possible Agribio board concerns was very well received. I was asked to submit an updated CV for the minister’s department- I contacted Ruth and we decided to use my board CV from the WOB workshop, rather than my professional CV I submitted initially. A good decision in hindsight since I doubt my cover letter was circulated to the department, and the board CV did a much better job of highlighting transferable skills.
I passed through to the referee check and I provided my referees with an overview of the interview questions and my responses to give them some background. Then it was a long wait over Christmas / a new Minister for Agriculture appointment until the announcements were made late last week. I suspected I was still in the running through that period as existing board members would occasionally look at my linked in profile (v important to update linked in consistent with your CV).
How are you preparing for the role?
I have subsequently been going over all the AgriBio board documentation, induction pack and suite of project agreements to prepare myself for the role. Everyone has been very welcoming and I am excited for the role and the start of my NED journey. Noting the importance of qualifications in the NED world I also completed the one day a week AICD company director’s course Dec - Feb, which I loved, became Chartered with Engineers Australia and have submitted an application for fellowship which should be approved later this month. Although I didn’t need to network for this role, I believe it is essential for NEDs and that is a key focus area for me going forward. Again, not something I have needed to focus on in my career but it is not as hard as it seems, once you make a start.
- The process of creating a board CV and thinking about transferable skills/ UVP is invaluable itself
- Critical to do research before an interview
- WOB has been so supportive and instrumental in helping me land this role
- Look for opportunities to formally recognise skills on your CV (eg Chartered / fellowship), networking and upskilling
About Jenny Selway
Jenny (BEng Hons, B Sc, GAICD) is a non executive director and global engineering executive, highly skilled in the management and operation of major infrastructure assets in the energy industry. With extensive experience in large multinational corporations, Jenny has held leadership positions for facilities based in Australia, USA, Chad, Canada, and PNG. She specialises in influencing, negotiation and joint venture management and enjoys working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders to find solutions to complex problems within commercial partnerships. Jenny graduated from the University of Adelaide with an honours degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Science degree majoring in Physics and Botany in 2001. She is a Chartered Professional Engineer with Engineers Australia in both Asset Management and Leadership & Management, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has completed a number of business and leadership courses at international institutions. With a particular interest in ESG issues, climate risk and sustainable energy transition, Jenny is currently undertaking postgraduate studies at the Australian National University Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions.