Julia Davenport

Non-Executive Director

MME_Davenport-Julia_20180524.jpgJulia is an energetic and innovative thinking board director who brings four years board experience in the private and not-for-profit sectors. A skilled strategic thinker, Julia worked at senior executive levels for many years in professional services (legal, accounting and management consulting), working with CEOs and boards and on various Executives, Not-For-Profit and local government committees. With mature stakeholder engagement and communication skills, Julia is a commercially astute asset for any Board. She is motivated by an intrinsic desire to support organizations to succeed, achieve peak results and deliver on strategy.

What boards do you sit on Currently?

Deputy Chair, Chair of Partnership Committee and NED, Children’s Book Council of Australia NED, Lindsay Dynan (civil and structural engineers).

When and why did you decide to become a director?

My first of these appointments was in 2015 after about a year of mulling over the idea. I had some previous board experience and I wanted to be sure I had the time to fully commit, and in 2015 I was ready. I have found that was the right instinct, as whatever time you’re told you need to set aside during the recruitment process, you can probably double it!

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

In the short term I’d like to secure another directorship, probably on a private company board, and in the mid-term to transition to a portfolio Board career.

outline your career background.

I built my career guiding the development of professional services organizations to help them position, differentiate and manage their brands, win new business and derive maximum value from their marketing investment, and in so doing building their capacity to meet the future.  Having worked in complex matrix structures and in consultancy roles, I learned some high level collaboration and influencing skills and having spent most of my professional life in law firms, accounting firms and management consultancies and am unfazed by ambiguity or complexity! All of which helps in the boardroom.

outline the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?

After nearly four years board experience, I’m still learning. There’s no substitute for good grounding, so the AICD course is worthwhile even though a bit intimidating! And good ongoing PD (personal development) like Financial Literacy offered by WOB is fantastic and great for building your network. Once you’re on a board, a good induction process is really helpful and a good question to ask during your recruitment.

Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?

There are many people I look up to - Gail Kelly for example - who I admire for being collaborative, intuitive, and generous spirited.  I remember Gail saying once ‘Find ways to lift people up’, and that’s such a powerful thing. I have also been really lucky to work with experienced Chair’s who I have learned a lot from.

Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?

Yes, and I guess I am unfazed about asking questions, and also very lucky to have people generous enough to give their time at critical decision points.

What’s the diversity like on your boards?

Interestingly, on one we have a reverse gender diversity issue (mostly women) and on the other a good mix. But let’s be clear: managing governance with diligence and integrity is a gender neutral activity and the gender of board members is not a measure of 'diversity'. Gender is only one aspect of diversity, and authentic attempts to have a diversity of thought and experience on boards is what’s critical.

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

Both my positions were advertised on WOB and I applied initially from there.

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Where do I start!? Embrace change, make collaborating habitual, put the time into growing a good network, be kind and mindful towards others because the alternatives are just unnecessary, believe in yourself but accept you don’t know everything, and when the time comes to let stuff go, let it go.

Interview published: June 2018