Kylie is an experienced non-executive director. She has many years' experience in the banking and financial services sector, both in Australia and overseas. She brings skills in financial structuring, financial services, property and construction and general risk questioning and identification of risk/strategy areas.
What boards and committees do you sit on currently?
Non-Executive Director Ocean Gardens Inc, Member of Ocean Garden Audit and Risk Committee, Immediate Past Chair and current member of Freshwater Council and previously Non-Executive Director of Access Housing Australia Ltd (“AHA”), Non-Executive Director of Access Housing Associated Inc, Chair of the Access Housing’s Finance and Audit Committee, Member of Access Housing’s Investment Fund Control Group and Peak Trampoline Inc.
When and why did you decide to become a director?
After a background in relationship management, business development in corporate/property finance and financial wealth management both in and out of Australia, I was interested in expanding on my management career to utilise skills gained at an executive/director level. It was really after attending an initial WOB course, I understood these early banking skills provide a depth of experience across a wide range of business areas including financial, legal, risk, operational, analyst and governance areas.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
I am currently taking time from my career to complete a Doctorate of Business Administration (Finance), converting to a PHD. My thesis is investigating how financial risk tolerances within business networks influence capital raising dynamic capabilities or provide a relative competitive advantage (from the context of accessing IPO capital). This is a competitive (fully funded) opportunity offered to 13 people every two years, so I was incredibly grateful to be given this opportunity. However, it is currently taking a considerable amount of my time, so I’m only lightly focused on board roles for the next 12/18 months, while I break the back of this thesis in the short term. In the medium to longer term, there are so many interesting roles and board positions currently available that it is taking all my will to complete this study and not to jump right back in, so I look forward to all those opportunities later on.
Please outline your career background.
My career started in corporate banking in Perth but saw me later living and working internationally in London and Asia for 14 years. I have had extensive banking and structured finance experience gained through my early career in property finance and corporate banking, both in Australia and overseas roles, and role as Business Development Director of a national strategic financial advisory company. My board experience commenced with Access Housing Australia Ltd, an independent developer and leading manager of social and affordable housing working with the WA Government. Access grew exponentially over my time on the board, with net profit increasing from $900K to over $17m. As Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, significant time and strategic guidance was required together with the board to support this growth. I am current enjoying my role with Ocean Gardens in the fast growing and competitive retirement living space. I am also a scholarship winner from WA Government for Emerging Female Leaders, Mentor and Fellow of FINSIA, graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Can you outline the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
My main challenge is with my finance background. I am asked to interview for finance roles on boards, however I am not an accountant and so have been passed over in preference to accounting qualifications. I therefore rely on auditors to provide everchanging technical accounting standard guidance but having spent a lifetime gaining financial analyst skills from early banking roles, reviewing financials and forming views on a company’s financial strength, I find these skills supplement and contrast pure audit skills and strengthen an audit committee, providing a different view point when considering financial strength, trends, and future risks.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
I personally have had many leaders and mentors I’ve worked with, and looked up to, at each various stage of my career, all of which I am grateful for and have remained friendly with over time and distance. Most of my influential leaders have generously provided references, support and encouragement as I have progressed along various stages of my career. I am forever grateful to them as they are extremely important throughout your career progression. At a higher level, I remain fascinated by successful women. Each have unique stories and achieved success in so many ways, often needing to overcome many different hurdles than those faced by men. Forums such as WOB providing advocacy and sharing of successful stories are therefore critically important and as inspirational as mentors, when seeking to highlight the ways forward.
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
Upon leaving uni, I interviewed and was hired as a young graduate with an Australia bank. The person who interviewed me was head of Corporate, who over my career, subsequently hired me three times and continued to support in my early years for which I was very grateful. Over the subsequent years, I have been fortunate to work with so many other inspirational people who I continue to keep in touch with or run into at events. Mentors provide an important sounding board function to sort through uncertainty and provide trusted and experienced advice. We are all now part of a highly connected society, so they often highlight opportunities or provide direction, without which it would be very difficult to achieve any way forward, especially as a lone individual. This comes through very clearly in my thesis when considering the effects of business networks, and in many interviews undertaken with various leaders for this topic.
What’s the diversity like on your boards?
Gender wise there are 2 women and 4 men on our board. Despite this, there is great diversity in skill, philosophy and though process brought to the board table often resulting in a broad variety of views. A recent board effectiveness survey undertaken to gauge the current board culture scored high on board member equal contributions, respect and strong understanding of board roles and processes. I appreciate the diversity on this board as each member provides a different perspective which is usually incorporated to various degrees to provide a more robust and fuller outcome.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
WOB played a pivotal role in the original Access Housing board placement. Upon completing my first WOB course (Realising your Board Potential), I gained considerable clarity around the role of a NED, required skill set and my value in a NED role. Within a couple of months of completing this course I was contacted by Ruth Medd from WOB asking if I would be interested in the role with Access Housing which had been listed with the WOB posting service. WOB therefore were pivotal in providing this board opportunity. Since then, regular WOB Board Networking events have broaden my knowledge and network of like-minded individuals and, through WOB’s regular high-profile speakers/company directors, I’ve gained considerable insight into the many different considerations of a board role. WOB also has very proactively contacted me at various times to promote me in various ways (such as suggesting this profile).
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
My board career really started with the WOB workshop which helped to pinpoint my capabilities and fine tune exactly what I would add to a board table. It provided the confidence to really understand and try to promote myself. I then used WOB contacts to reposition my CV from an executive to a more board ready CV. Finally say yes to opportunities to try various roles, gain learnings, broaden your networks and be prepared to take the role seriously.