Kathryn Brown

Director

MME_Brown_Kathryn.jpgKathryn is an experienced and flexible professional with a proven track record in financial services (with a particular focus on funds management/wealth management), finance and operations. Kathryn has a strong background in business improvement, project management and performance analytics with both local and international experience.

Kathryn is a chartered accountant and has worked in New Zealand, Australia and the UK for Deloitte, Henderson Global Investors and ANZ Banking Group Ltd. Kathryn possesses a specialised knowledge of alternative asset classes including, private equity, infrastructure and property.

Consequently, she has a unique combination of funds management, finance, operations, and regulatory compliance gained through experience across high profile, complex organisations.

What boards do you sit on currently?

I currently sit on the Finance, Risk, Audit and Compliance (FRAC) committees for Girl Guides Victoria, St Kilda Mums Inc. and Palliative Care Victoria. I also sit on the Disciplinary Tribunal for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

When and why did you decide to become a director?

I joined my first Finance, Risk, Audit and Compliance committee for a Not for Profit organisation in 2017, after volunteering on a number of community and school committees. Around the same time, I was thinking about a change in career after working in the corporate world for over 20 years. I love the challenges of being a committee member, the opportunity to contribute to companies I am passionate about and the flexibility that board/committee roles offer, so I am now focussed on this new and exciting next stage of my career.

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

Short term, I’m actively looking for a Director role on a private or public company board and/or a Government Board. Longer term, I’d like to build my director career across a range of sectors.

outline your career background.

I spent five years as a chartered accountant at Deloitte in Wellington and London. In 2000, I decided to enter the corporate world and joined Henderson Global Investors in London focussing on private equity. In 2003, I moved to Melbourne and joined ANZ Banking Group Ltd for the next 15 years.

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

The biggest challenge for me has been getting on to a board and essentially starting a new career from the beginning again.
I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship in 2017 by the Victorian government for Women on Boards. This involved attending some great networking events and also doing my Foundations of Directorship course with the AICD, a Women on Boards course and granted a membership with the AICD.
More recently, I have done the AICD Company Directors’ Course and joined Women on Boards last year as well. Both Women on Boards and AICD have helped me to build networks and skills and find positions advertised through their sites.

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

In terms of leaders, I look up to Julie Bishop, Hilary Clinton, Quentin Bryce and Jacinta Arden. These female leaders have worked so hard for many years to support people with difficult lives, and have managed to navigate and overcome a gender bias, while still remaining true to their beliefs. I also look up to David Gonski who not only has held/holds some very significant board roles in the past and present, but he is also a strong advocate for women on boards.

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

I haven’t had any formal mentors or sponsors but there have been particular people who have helped me along the way. I was fortunate to work for several managers at ANZ who have supported me and allowed me to work flexibly with small children.

What’s the diversity like on your boards?

I sit on very diverse committees, both in terms of gender and ethnicity. Girl Guides Victoria FRAC committee has two women and one man, with a female CEO; and the committee of St Kilda Mums Inc. has all females, but our work/professional backgrounds are diverse. Whereas the FRAC committee I sit on for Palliative Care Victoria includes myself and three men.

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

Several of my positions were advertised on the WOB website. The weekly newsletters with articles about other women building directorship careers and opportunities for female directors are always extremely useful when I’m finding the path as a director tough and sometimes slow.

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Taking a volunteer role on a board/committee is a great way to start, as it allows you to build some skills and understand more about the role of the director/committee member. I’d strongly encourage women to do a Company Directors Course, not just for the education but also from a networking experience. This course is also invaluable for hearing the “war stories” that are told during the course which provide real insight into the director landscape and the challenges that exist being on a board/committee.
The path to becoming a director on a board or sitting on a sub-committee of a board can be slow and frustrating at times, but it is definitely worth the time and effort and extremely rewarding.