Lee Hillam

Lee is co-director of Dunn & Hillam Architects, which was founded in 2001 with Ashley Dunn and is established as a practice with expertise in heritage, regional towns, arts and culture and sustainability. Dunn & Hillam Architects is a certified B Corporation.

She is a Board member for Southern Cross Housing.

From October 2016 through to April 2019 Lee worked in a variety of roles at Government Architect NSW centred around Design Excellence, design competitions and heritage.


What boards and committees do you currently sit on?

Southern Cross Housing.

When and why did you decide to pursue boards?

I had some experience working with Project Steering Committees and Design Review Panels for State and Local government. I enjoyed the strategic way of thinking and the way these groups could support the executives and others actually doing the work. I then thought that I might be able to do the same thing in boards, and started looking for appropriate boards to join.

What challenges and hurdles have you had to overcome in pursuing board roles and/or serving on boards? 

So far it has been very smooth. The scheduling of time is tricky as I’m the director of an architecture practice as well, and parent to two high school aged kids but apart from that I had some early support from Women on Boards via their Getting Started workshop and was lucky enough to find an available board position in a really compatible organisation really early on. 

Have you had mentors and/or sponsors and have they helped you? if so, how?

Not as a board member though I feel very well supported by the Chair and other board members and the CEO of the organisation I’m working with.

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

I first became familiar with the environment of boards by joining up as a member and reading the online resources and newsletters. Then I participated in the Getting Started workshop and attended a Director's Lunch. When I was writing my CV and cover letter for the position both Ruth and Claire offered feedback.

Any tips for women starting out their journey to the boardroom?

I think it is important to find a board position that you feel you’re a really good fit for. I knew that a social housing provider could benefit from having an architect on the board, but more specifically I researched every board member and saw that they were skewed towards finance and governance and also had a slight gender equity issue. I also knew that the CEO was relatively new and came from a development background and had big plans for moving the organisation into more building projects. So, as a female, strategic thinking architect I felt like the role was almost written for me. 
I looked at lots of other roles where I thought I’d be getting more out of the role than the organisation would get from me, and so felt like it would be unlikely they’d choose me.