Sandi Orleow


MME_Orleow_Sandi-(1).jpgSandi has worked globally and locally in financial services for over two decades, with a focus on superannuation, investment management, consulting and research. She has the benefit of having worked across business functions so has relevant experience in management, sales, marketing, accounting and investing.

She is particularly strong and apt in understanding businesses, their prospects and competitive landscape as well as their "pain points" and has proven success in using her insights to generate growth and manage risks.

Sandi maintains a strong network and has broad industry involvement through her consulting business, industry associations and conference participation.
She has a strong customer/ client focus and uses that to ground her efforts. She is an effective communicator and actively follows a continued learning regime, incorporating new trends and thinking into her views and work. She is a strong advocate of innovation and growth strategies and facilitating environments to allow these to be considered and successfully integrated in traditional businesses.

Sandi initiated a portfolio career in 2014 and holds several committee and director roles.

Her areas of speciality include: superannuation, investments, business strategy, mentoring, business development and relationship management.

Sandi qualified as a Chartered Accountant; a CFA Charterholder; a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a signatory of the Banking & Finance Oath.

What boards do you sit on currently?

I currently hold several committee and director roles, including Independent Member of Statewide Super’s Investment Committee, Non-Executive Director of Infrastructure Capital Group, Member of Investment Advisory Board ACT Treasury, National Director Women in Super and Audit & Risk Committee Member, Immediate Past Chair NSW WIS Committee.

When and why did you decide to become a director?

In 2011 I was successful in winning a Scholarship to Women on Boards “Introduction to the Boardroom” and was introduced to the idea then. In 2014 I moved from executive work and embarked on building and establishing a portfolio of non-executive director roles.

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

I really love the work I do, and I don’t contemplate retirement. I envisage and hope to maintain involvement through Committees, Boards and volunteering in business, corporates, non-for-profits for the next twenty years.
In terms of my Board aspirations specifically I seek to work with businesses where I am able to add value and where there is a shared beliefs or value foundation.
I have a passion for innovation and growth, but I am conscious of maintaining a commercial portfolio as a professional director and pragmatically approach my portfolio to manage conflicts, commercial and non-commercial roles and businesses in various stages of their lifecycle.

Please outline your career background.

I have worked globally and locally in financial services for over two decades, with a focus on superannuation, funds management, investment consulting and research. I have had the benefit of working across business functions so have relevant experience in management, sales, marketing, accounting and investing.
I started her career at Arthur Andersen as a Chartered Accountant and became the Head of Consulting at Brockhouse Cooper in South Africa and then Senior Investment Consultant and Head of Private Markets at Towers Watson Australia. I established my own consulting business in 2011.

Can you outline the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?

After completing the AICD course, I was aware of the focus on increasing gender diversity around the boardroom table and also the increased focus on utilising a skills matrix and I had proven expertise in Investments. I found myself on a list for an Investment Committee of a large Super Fund, but I was not successful. I then got to the final two for a Superannuation Trustee role for another large Industry Fund and was advised that my lack of Board experience had been a factor in not being successful. I was a long-term member of the Women in Super Committee and the NSW Treasurer and put my hand up to become Deputy Chair and to join the National Board to mitigate that hurdle.

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

Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
There are many people I learn from and that have helped me and continue to help and support me in my career and life. A few that come to mind –

David Neal, CEO of Future Fund, he hired me when I arrived in Australia into my first role as a working mother. He was focused on what I delivered not the hours I was at my desk, with two babies in a new country and no support structure, I was able to maintain my career, in hours that worked for me, often into the night after the children went to sleep. He also insisted I maintain a senior role at Watson Wyatt, having headed a Consulting Business in South Africa – I didn’t know how I was going to balance work and family and he enabled a successful arrangement and role modelled desirable leadership behavior.

Marian Poirier, active support of Women in Industry to access opportunities to grow and develop, she encouraged me to apply for the WOB Scholarship when it felt like a far reach.

Audette Exel – true to her beliefs – Business for Purpose – identified solutions that meet multiple stakeholder beliefs.

Jack Gray – Thought Leader – brave and true to values – happy to call it out.

What’s the diversity like on your boards?

Mixed experience.
I am a massive believer in the value of cognitive diversity, but without strong / effective leadership, diversity can be disruptive and hinder decision making. It is also hard to be the only person around the table that is different, be it female, discipline, perspective if there isn’t support for contemplating different inputs.

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

In 2011 I did the Introduction to the Boardroom Course and was introduced to the career option and a pathway to incorporate non-executive and executive work and to not see them as two mutually exclusive career paths. Also, to appreciate that career planning is a long term process and starts today.
I was successful in identifying the ACT Treasury Role through the WOB NoticeBoard
I value the community and the learning and development offered through WOB events.

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Know yourself and the skills you have to offer
Believe in yourself
Take risk
Give back/ volunteer
Build your Community

Interview published: September 2018