Kerry Skellern is a Chair, Non-Executive Director, Business Adviser and Mentor. She has particular experience in the industrial infrastructure, healthcare, building, technology and chemical industries.
Kerry has an engineering and science background, beginning her career in petrochemical manufacturing. She transitioned through Environment, Health & Safety management to Strategic Sales & Marketing, including product commercialisation and innovation. She then held profit & loss accountable General Management roles in healthcare service, insulation products and metal roofing installation.
Kerry has primarily worked in large listed company environments, including General Electric, CSR, James Hardie, Fletcher Insulation and ICI (now Orica). She also had 4 years working in technology start-ups. Kerry lived and worked in China for 2 years.
Kerry now has a governance career spanning over 10 years as a Chair and Non-Executive Director, with experience in aged care, housing and transport.
What boards do you currently sit on?
Galvin Engineering Advisory Board – family owned business selling specialist water management solutions
Bendigo Community Bank Lower North Shore
Avondale Golf Club – Club President (Board Chair)
When and why did you decide to become a director?
I started preparing for a NED career in the early 2000’s when I completed the AICD course. However, I continued a full time executive career until 2013 when I stepped out of full time work to pursue a portfolio career. I decided to become a director because I thought my broad management experience positioned me well to make a strong contribution at the Board table.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
I would like to build on my board experience by joining the boards of ASX listed public companies or large private companies.
Outline your career background.
I have had a governance career spanning over 10 years in aged care, housing, building materials and transport. Originally trained as a chemical engineer, I transitioned from technical roles, through sales & marketing to profit & loss accountable general management roles. In my executive career, I have primarily worked in large Corporate environments (GE, CSR, James Hardie, ICI, Fletcher Insulation) and also spent 4 years in start-up technology companies. I have lived and worked in China.
Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
I think one of the key challenges is to ensure you “aim high” in looking for Boards to join. Many of us are looking to build experience so we are seen to be credible candidates for bigger Board roles. I think we can sell ourselves short if we don’t look for organisations that are of sufficient scale that we can demonstrate our full range of skills. My approach now is to ensure I have carefully researched any new organisations I might join, with the aim of ensuring I can really make a difference. This includes looking at the directors I will be joining on the board, to ensure I can learn from them, as well as make a contribution myself.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
I have greatly admired Melinda Snowden’s approach as the leader of my recent WOBSX program. Melinda is a very accomplished director in her own right, yet has approached her interactions within our group and individual sessions with great humility and also great empathy. Women will only succeed if we all take this approach and look for ways we can help each other.
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
I have had a range of mentors throughout my career – largely senior managers in organisations I have worked with. I also worked with a professional career coach at one stage.
What is the diversity (gender & other) like on your boards? If you sit on a mix of diverse and non-diverse boards, what differences have you noticed?
Most of my boards have been gender diverse, although by far the majority of my executive experience was in environments with very few women. My boards are not yet diverse in the broader sense, beyond gender. I believe a diverse group provides a much broader perspective on the challenges facing any organisation, increasing the likelihood of business success.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
I have felt supported by WOB in a number of ways. Formally, I completed the mentoring program some years ago in the early stages of my Board career. More recently, I have completed the WOBSX program, which has connected me to a wonderful network of talented women. Informally, I have attended WOB events for years and have found the conversations amongst attendees to be stimulating and supportive. As with so many other women, I feel Ruth and Claire have always looked out for me and sought ways to support me in building a Board career.
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
Dedicate time to building and maintaining your networks – look to build relationships that will help move your career forward, but where you can also give back.
Think about what you enjoy and what you really want to do – actively manage your career so you can fulfil your potential.