Kelly Howlett

Director

MME_Howlett_Kelly.jpgKelly has lived in Port Hedland for nearly 19 years. During that time, Kelly has demonstrated leadership in raising the awareness and profile of the social and natural environment in Port Hedland and the Pilbara.
In October 2009, Kelly was first elected by the community as the Mayor of the Town of Port Hedland.  Kelly was re-elected for a further four-year term as Mayor in 2013. Throughout her time, Kelly was the youngest ever Mayor of the Town of Port Hedland and was throughout her two terms the youngest Mayor in Western Australia.
A passionate advocate for Aboriginal affairs, Kelly retired from the Mayor of Town of Port Hedland in August 2016 and took up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Bloodwood Tree Association. Bloodwood Tree is a wholly Aboriginal controlled organisation that provides services to those in need, disadvantaged, unemployed and affected by alcohol and drugs both in the Port/South Hedland and broader Pilbara area.
Kelly is an active and passionate environmentalist. Kelly founded and is still today the Chairperson of the local Care For Hedland Environmental Association (this June celebrated its’ 15th birthday). Kelly was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2018 in recognition of her lengthy contribution to the local Hedland environment and community.
Kelly is hands on and keen to make a difference. Kelly is extremely grateful for the opportunities she has been given and she is keen to make sure that others regardless of their circumstance or geographic position have the same opportunities.

What boards do you sit on?

I am currently the Chief Executive Officer for Bloodwood Tree Association Inc. In addition to this, I am Chairperson of the Care For Hedland Environmental Association Inc, Director on the Western Australian Country Health Service, as well as a member of the Western Australian Country Health Service Audit & Risk Committee and a member on the WA Primary Health Alliance Country Community Advisory Council Establishing Committee.

When and why did you decide to become a director?

Throughout my professional career, I have had involvement in a significant number of not-for-profit and community related committees and boards within my local community. I have enjoyed these roles. After taking a significant change to my career in mid 2016, I dropped off all my Board and Committee roles. However since late 2017, with the blessing of my employer, I have been keen to explore directorship opportunities that are economic development or have a broader strategic focus and more at a wider Western Australian level.

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

To continue to develop and gain from the experience of contributing as a Director on my current Boards and Committees commitments.

As well as continue to seek additional Board opportunities utilising my current skillset, as well as building upon and using the experiences of my career to date.

Outline your career background.

Since graduating from the University of Melbourne (as an Environmental Scientist), I left Victoria and I have lived in Port Hedland (in the Pilbara region, of North West Western Australia) for nearly 19 years. During that time, I have demonstrated leadership in raising the awareness and profile of the social and natural environment in Port Hedland and the Pilbara.

In October 2009, I was first elected by the community, as the Mayor of the Town of Port Hedland.  I was re-elected for a further four year term as Mayor in 2013. Throughout my Mayoral terms, I was the youngest ever Mayor of the Town of Port Hedland and was throughout my two terms the youngest Mayor in Western Australia.

A passionate advocate for Aboriginal affairs, I retired from the Mayor of Town of Port Hedland in August 2016 and took up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Bloodwood Tree Association Inc. Bloodwood Tree is a wholly Aboriginal controlled organisation that provides services to those in need, disadvantaged, unemployed and affected by alcohol and drugs both in the Port/South Hedland and broader Pilbara area.

I am an active and passionate environmentalist. I founded and am still today the Chairperson of the local community environmental organisation - Care For Hedland Environmental Association (which in June 2018 celebrated its’ 15th birthday). I was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2018 in recognition of my lengthy contribution to the local Hedland environment and community.

I am hands on and keen to make a difference. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given and I am keen to make sure that others, regardless of their circumstance or geographic position have the same opportunities.

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

The key is just to be consistent and never give up. I have faced many many challenges in my career journey. Mainly around being in a regional setting in a traditionally male dominated environment and always being younger than others.

Despite all this, the key for me has been to have really great supportive women around you, to believe in yourself and never ever give up. For me it is continuously pushing myself to think about the other way I can/could make something happen. Continuing to innovate and never say never!

Also to be humble and to give credit where credit is due. Always keeping in mind that there is always enough credit for everyone! Never let your own ego get in the way. It does not matter if someone else gets the credit or thinks it is their idea. That’s fine, as at the end of the day you just want it to happen and it does not matter how you get there, as long as it happens. There is enough credit for everyone involved when it comes to positive and beneficial outcomes.

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

Too many to name! I enjoy reading biographies of people. I really enjoyed former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly’s book. I am currently enjoying the book of the founder of Nike.

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

Yes I have had and still have two mentors. It is important to have mentors, as they can impart so much knowledge but also help you, especially as a sounding board in terms of “how should I best handle this situation”.

It is important to have different mentors, especially at different times in your career. Mentors that can assist you to develop in areas that you may not be strong in or help to provide you with a different perspective.

What’s the diversity (gender & other) like on your boards? 

Fairly even currently, which is fortunate.

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

Helped significantly in terms of keeping up to date and abreast of the latest developments and information relevant for Board Directors. The weekly e-newsletter highlighting Board vacancies and Director opportunities is very valuable.

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Believe in yourself and have the confidence to say “yes” or give different things a try. Try to attend women in leadership conferences and/or professional development events. Have at least one mentor, if not more. Ask someone you look up to or that does something in the area you would like to go into, to be your mentor. I find people are honoured that you asked them and I have not had anyone say no.

Make sure you do what training you can to develop yourself as a Director. The Australian Institute of Company Directors Courses are very worthwhile. In addition to the training, make sure you take out memberships to support yourself as a Director. These memberships are very valuable in terms of remaining updated and current as well as the power of its’ network can assist you greatly in terms of helping you with your journey.