Leanne Heywood

ASX Non-Executive Director

MME_Heywood_Leanne.jpgLeanne is an experienced non-executive director, marketing and finance professional. She brings extensive international marketing, stakeholder management and team leadership experience in China and Japan, Mongolia and Singapore, India, and South America. She has lead organizational restructuring, disposals and acquisitions, including integration and has strong commercial and leadership skills across international boundaries. She prides herself on her advanced ability to facilitate complex cross cultural negotiations. Her contributions at board level include governance, risk and strategy.

What boards do you sit on?

Orocobre – ASX200 Lithium Miner with operations in Argentina; Australian Meat Processor Corporation – The Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation Supporting Meat Processors in Australia; Member NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity.

When and why did you decide to become a director?

I decided to become a director in 2013 when I was attending a leadership development program and we did an exercise called Merlin’s Experiment. We had two hours and a blank sheet of paper and were required to write down an unconstrained view of where we would like to be in 5 years. After a lot of thought, I wrote down that I would like to have a portfolio of directorships across Mining, Rural, Government and Not-for-profit.

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

My short term aspiration is to settle in to my newest board role and establish a fully functional Nominations and Remuneration Committee. My medium term aspiration is to secure my next board role and make the shift from executive + boards to a board portfolio.

outline your career background

My career background is almost entirely in Mining, starting off as an accountant. Across 25+ years my experience broadened across all things commercial and culminated in an international marketing role with Rio Tinto. I am now in a senior marketing role with a family owned company called Inenco which is an Industrial Engineering Supplies Company.

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 upon joining each board, quickly ramping up knowledge of the business in order to be able to contribute effectively. In my first board role, I devoted the first three months to understanding the business, including a tour of their operating sites. For my second board role, reading as much documentation as I could as early as I could has been very helpful.

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

No-one famous or well-known, simply my fellow directors for their knowledge and insights as they are always very different to my own.

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

I have had only informal mentors and they have been very valuable in challenging me when I become too comfortable, and helping me through the tough times. I have never had a sponsor.

What’s the diversity like on your boards?

If you are talking about gender diversity, on one board I am the only female on a board of 7 and on the other board I am one of two females on a board of 9. Having said that, the first has excellent diversity in terms of country of origin and skill set. The second board is less diverse, as the board members are largely member directors, hence the appointment of two independent directors, of which I am one.

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

When I left Rio Tinto, I completed both the Getting Started and Board CV courses through Women on Boards. Both courses were very practical in nature and gave me the confidence and tools to make my way into the boardroom. I find the role matching process excellent and often consult with Ruth when I am considering a board role. I am a vocal advocate for Women on Boards!

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Join WOB and do the Getting Started and Board CV courses. Leave no stone unturned in your search for board roles - I have secured board roles variously through an AICD formal networking event, an informal introduction at an AICD training program, 2 through advertising and one through a direct approach to a company. Have a clear view of what you offer a board and have confidence in pursuing the right role. Offer a helping hand to those alongside you in the journey!