Meet Sally Macindoe

Sally Macindoe is Executive Counsel and former partner and past Chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright Australia. In addition to her Planning & Environment practice Sally continues to lead the strategic discussion concerning Diversity and Inclusion with the national and global executive of the firm and more broadly within the business community and legal services industry.

Sally was named Diversity Leader for the Advancement of Women by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency at their 2011 Business Achievement Awards, Female Partner of the Year at the 2012 Lawyer’s Weekly Women in the Law Awards in recognition of her leadership in the diversity area, National Australia Bank Women's Agenda Leadership Change Champion in 2013 and named in the 2013 AFR/Westpac 100 Women of Influence Award.

What Boards do you sit on?

I currently sit on the Melbourne Cricket Club Committee, Melbourne Cricket Club Foundation Pty Ltd,  Melbourne Cricket Club Heritage Limited – 2014 - present.
Formerly sat on Deacons/Norton Rose Fulbright – 2005-2012 (2010 – 2012 Chairman); Melbourne Recital Centre – 2005-2009.

When and Why did you decide to become a director?

My Boardroom journey started in an unplanned fashion. Our Managing Partner sat down in my office one day in 2005 and suggested I stand for election to our (then) Board. At the time there were no women in our Boardroom which was generally considered the domain of partners with a corporate law/governance skill set. I considered myself a relatively young partner and I was juggling being a single mother of 2 (then 7 and 5 year old) boys so I did hesitate when the suggestion was made but decided to think about it. Having decided to stand, I was elected, and my Board journey began.

In 2005 I was hosting a Boardroom lunch when I met the then Minister for the Arts, The Honourable Mary Delahunty who asked me if I had served on any Government Boards. A few weeks later I took a call from the Minister inviting me to accept an appointment to the Board of the Melbourne Recital Centre Ltd which at that point in time was a cleared development site needing development approval and funding for what has now become one of the best recital halls in the world.

Once the venue was delivered and ready to become operational I retired as a director but I have been privileged to continue to support the Centre, enjoying the wonderful variety of music which is presented there, and I treasure the relationships I formed with my fellow directors, a number of whom I remain close to today.

In 2013 I recall walking along Collins Street with an armful of folders when I received a call exploring my interest in being considered for appointment to the Committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club. Again I hesitated, understanding the very significant time commitment that would be involved, not just in contributing to the very significant business that is responsible for managing and operating one of the best sporting venues in the world together with its surrounding precinct, but also in contributing to the very considerable activities and sporting pursuits of one of the largest sporting Clubs in the world. There are over 13 separate sporting sections of the Melbourne Cricket Club, not just cricket and football. I undertook some due diligence to ensure I had a complete understanding of the commitment involved and satisfied myself I would be able to make a contribution. I was recently appointed as a Vice President and am now a director of Melbourne Cricket Club Foundation Ltd and Melbourne Cricket Club Heritage Limited.

All 3 Boardroom experiences have involved quite different industries – the legal services sector, the Arts and Sports.  The latter 2 have also involved public venues and the risk environment in which they operate has changed significantly in recent years.

I have always been a strategic thinker, even my specialised area of legal practice (planning and environment) involves the need to ‘future think’ and consider the future needs of our community including the infrastructure required (health, education, transport, housing and the like). Board members need to be strategic and resist the temptation to get too deep into the weeds such that you duplicate the executive and senior management’s role rather than support and oversee it. My legal background assists in the understanding of and need to manage risk and governance.

There have been times when balancing my career, extra-curricular NED roles and family has been challenging. I have felt like the director of air traffic control and had to learn to be an effective delegator and embracer of help.
Opportunities often come when you feel unable to take them but I have learned to pause, consider and give careful thought before deciding whether to accept or decline an opportunity. No-one should ever take on a role they are not in a position to do well. Often Board roles involve additional, ‘out of hours contributions’ especially in the Sports and Arts sectors and those expectations and commitments should be carefully considered. It is hard to understand the business or industry you are servicing if you are not able to participate, contribute and learn beyond attending the Board meetings alone.

After 30 years of practice and leadership in the law, I am currently enjoying a ‘pivot’ period. I retired from equity partnership last year and dropped a number of management roles I had held for some time. I am still enjoying the planning and environment work with a very talented team of senior lawyers who I am enjoying mentoring and sponsoring. I am making more time for my role with the Melbourne Cricket Club and for family care whilst giving myself some time and space to think about the next 20 years.

Let’s catch up in a few years and see where I have landed!