As well as running my consulting practice Auburn, I’ve recently embarked on a career in corporate governance, and I was fortunate enough to spend 2020 as a Future Director with Naylor Love Construction. Here, I’m sharing my experiences in the hope that it encourages other aspiring directors to take up this superb opportunity.
Not long after I joined the Institute of Directors (IOD) in 2019 I was asked if I was interested in the Future Director programme. It took about half a second for me to think about that – yes please! After quickly ship-shaping my governance CV, I applied for, was shortlisted, interviewed and offered the position as Naylor Love Construction’s first Future Director. During this application period I attended the IOD’s 5-day Company Directors’ Course which was brilliant preparation.
No sooner had I finished the intensive course; I was in the Naylor Love boardroom for the first time in November 2019. The tone of inclusivity was set from Day 1 with Trevor Kempton (Chair) introducing me, and assuring me that the Board would be calling on my expertise during the year. And so it was.
(Last day with the Naylor Love Board. From left, me, Jane Huria, Jackie Lloyd, Trevor Kempton, Ian McPherson, Chris Naylor, Scott Watson)
There were two in-person meetings before we, and the rest of the world, shifted to online meetings; and like many, even when meeting in-person became possible again the Naylor Love Board retained some virtual meetings in the mix. Thank goodness for having been able to meet the other Board members a few times ahead of lock-down, as I can imagine forming collegial relationships from scratch via video isn’t easy.
Mentoring is an important part of being a Future Director. A lot happens in Board meetings, and it was great to be able to reflect on things and ask follow-up questions afterwards. Plus, mentors are a great help for governance career planning and networking, so I am hugely grateful to Jane Huria for her time, wisdom and encouragement.
In addition to taking part in all Board activities, I was also assisted with governance training. This enabled me to attend a number of one-day IOD courses throughout the year to further enhance my knowledge; and I also completed the CMA to become a Chartered member of the IOD.
Highlights of my Future Director Year:
Applying what I learned about governance on IOD courses in a supportive environment.
Taking an active role in all the governance activities across the year including Board and Committee meetings, Health and Safety site visits, subject matter expert talks, strategic planning sessions, and dinners with regional management teams.
Experiencing excellent chairing by Trevor Kempton that was open, inclusive and consensus-oriented; and created a seamless experience between online and in-person meetings.
Observing true executive leadership, with CEO Rick Herd (supported by his team) driving the creation of the Health & Safety protocols that enabled industry-wide resumption of work in Covid-19 Level 3.
Being mentored by one of New Zealand’s most experienced company directors Jane Huria, who goes above and beyond to help aspiring directors.
My reasons for wanting to be part of the Future Director Programme were to build my governance skills, develop credentials, and to grow my confidence in applying for future independent director roles; and I feel I’ve achieved those and so much more.
If I were asked what advice I would give others considering the Future Directors programme, it would be these things:
Tips for Future Directors:
Establish what success looks like for yourself and for your host board right at the start.
Make time to get involved as much as you can, and be well prepared for every meeting.
Make the most of your relationship with your mentor as they have fantastic experience and can be wonderful connectors.
Act like you’re a full director rather than “the intern” – be prepared and proactive.
5. Go for it – it’s a learning experience like no other!
Finally, I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the Naylor Love Board – Trevor Kempton, Chris Naylor, Ian McPherson, Scott Watson, Jane Huria and Jackie Lloyd; and to the Executive Team especially Rick Herd (CEO) and Murray Dickinson (CFO), for making my year with Naylor Love so memorable.