Sandy Chakravarty - A sisterhood aspiring to change the landscape of the Boardroom

March 2021

“The responsibility of the Director is changing,” declared Sandy Chakravarty, a highly commercial Non-Executive and Executive Director with global and Australian experience. “It’s a new paradigm now since COVID. We need to be sensitive to how we manage the complexity of environmental, social and corporate governance, setting it on the right path for the future,” she continued. Sandy draws parallels to the collapsing state of affairs in the US in the wake of the pandemic. “Just look how poorly COVID has been managed. Trump created so much chaos and this also applies to the Boardroom. It’s about redefining leadership now. We need to ask ourselves what’s moral and right for organisations, people, customers and the environment… I believe we are on the cusp of big and exciting change!”

Evolving leadership
She admits that her leadership style has changed over the years. “I used to be more directive and task/outcome focused. I became increasingly aware of the different dimensions at play and now focus more on people. I think I am more balanced, collaborative and spend more time listening and identifying the things we don’t know… I build high performance teams now through inspiring, motivating and empathetic leadership.”

Ten years ago, Sandy recognised the value she could bring to the Not-For-Profit sector — or as she prefers to rebrand it — the For Impact sector, and joined her first Board, Eating Disorders Foundation of Victoria. Later, she joined the National Association of Women in Operations, The Australian Red Cross, Link Community Transport and the International Women’s Development Agency. Today Sandy serves as the Chair of the Audit and Risk and Finance Committees for the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Executive General Manager and Chief Financial Officer for State Trustees, and Board Member for Kidney Health Australia.

“It might sound weird or nerdy, but governance and strategy are my passions. Risk management and managing boards to steer organisations in the right direction excites me. I realised this early in the piece and I’m happy I’m able to provide adequate advice for positive outcomes,” Sandy added.

“And none of my work would have been possible without the love and continued support of my husband and son. You need your family to have a high powered career.”
 
A gearshift to the private sector
Now Sandy is looking to expand her portfolio of Board positions by leveraging her experience in the private sector to provide governance, strategic risk, financial prudence, commercial acumen expertise and advocacy. “I am the type of person who constantly looks at myself and asks how can I improve and grow.”

“As an Executive, I have gained credibility and never have had to sought out jobs. I’ve been tapped on the shoulder from position to position. Stepping into Boards in the private sector is a different story though and WOBSX has humbly reminded and reinforced this for me.”

“It taught me how to create a targeted CV and understand my power of influence, to shift my mindset from Executive to Non-Executive, it bolstered my confidence, connected me with an incredible peer support group as well as the most experienced guidance. It also instilled in me the critical tenacity and persistence required to reach your goals,” she said.

Sandy reminds that if you’re ready and willing to make substantial change, then join WOBSX. “A whole new world awaits and we have to be ready for it as Directors.”
 
WOBSX is for the change-makers
Known widely for her vision and drive, Sandy was propelled to join WOBSX, our director-led peer-to-peer support program that accelerates women into ASX board roles. Her application was successful after a rigorous selection process and she recently graduated from the 2020 Margaret Jackson Syndicate. “The world is changing and we need to change with it. It’s a very competitive landscape out there and it’s especially hard to get into the private sector, which is my next step. A robust support network bolsters that,” Sandy shared.
 
WOBSX is for women, like Sandy, who are:

  • preparing for their next career move as a Non Executive Director or aiming to achieve this in the near future, or
  • have occupied executive and/or C-Suite and/or key leadership roles in listed and large private companies, or
  • been in senior leadership roles in government, universities or very large third-sector organisations, or
  • are presently in a role that has given them extensive experience in leading functions, divisions or business units

The program aims to get 25% or more of participants onto ASX or equivalent boards within two years of completion. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, WOBSX was over-subscribed. Four cohorts have graduated so far and three are currently running in Sydney and Melbourne under the guidance of six leading ASX NEDs. Not someone who uses the world ‘sisterhood’ lightly, that’s exactly how Sandy described the program. “It’s an exhilarating experience with a dynamic mix of people from different sectors, expertise and a wealth of support. It’s the makings of a true sisterhood.”
It was twenty-five years ago that Sandy moved from Mumbai to Melbourne after completing her studies, a Bachelor and Masters in Business and an MBA at the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, to cultivate a profession in finance. After more than a decade with Bristol Myers Squibb, Ingersoll Rand and The Boston Consulting Group, Sandy’s career migrated into IT, transport, health, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, professional services and the Not-For-Profit sector. She is considered a high calibre and innovative leader with significant experience in global blue chip organisations who provides commercially astute solutions to enable organisations to meet their goals in a sustainable way.
 
For further information visit link to WOBSX page.