Case study: Leeanne Bond
Leeanne was recently appointed as a Board Member of Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The CEFC was created by the Australian Government under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 to invest commercially to increase the flow of funds into renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low emissions technologies.
She was described by Federal Ministers Matthias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg as “one of Australia’s leading engineers” with extensive experience in the water and energy sectors in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
She currently serves on several other boards including:
- Queensland Building and Construction Commission
- Engineers Australia
- Snowy Hydro
- Territory Generation
- Liquefied Natural Gas Limited
and is the incoming Independent Non-executive Chairperson of Synertec Corporation.
Leeanne was approached to join her first board position with a Queensland Government owned corporation in 2004. It was at this time that the state government began looking at improving gender balance on boards.
Her appointment as the Queensland President for Engineers Australia in 2002 prepared her well for the board position given that it was a demanding role that allowed her to develop herself personally and professionally beyond her daily engineering management role.
The leadership role also involved a lot of public speaking and allowed her to build her public profile which resulted in her being approached for her first board position.
Since then she has successfully joined several other boards using a combination of approaches including her personal network and recruitment agencies.
When being approached to take on a new role or responsibility, Leeanne says:
The number one thing women can do is not to immediately say ‘no’ when asked, but instead trust that you can do it.
In her example of being asked to join her first board position, she had no prior governance experience other than the transferable skills she had gained from her senior management role and her leadership position as the Queensland President of Engineers Australia.
Similarly, she had no experience with boards when she was approached to take on the role with Engineers Australia other than her active involvement with various work and professional committees.
As such, Leeanne recommends getting involved with volunteering and professional bodies as a starting point to learn about boards and committees including their processes.
They also provide an opportunity to develop professional and personal skills and networks that will be helpful as a future board member.
After her first corporate board experience and knowing that she wanted to contribute further to other boards, Leeanne took a more proactive approach by thinking carefully about her skills and interests and making this known throughout her network and by reaching out to executive recruiters.
She received valuable feedback from recruiters of the importance of identifying your strengths and of building reputation and awareness with other directors and chairpersons.
At the same time, she continued building her public profile and developed a strong personal network.
From there, Leeanne says:
One interesting role leads to another and you start to get a reputation and good referees and recommendations.
Maintaining good relationships with recruiters helped Leeanne too as it was a recruiter she had known for several years who had informed her about her most recent board positions and initiated the appointment processes.
Leeanne strongly emphasises the importance of performing due diligence checks on an organisation prior to joining their board. She says:
Don’t join a board unless you can really commit to the goals and values of the organisation.
As part of any board appointment process, Leeanne learns as much as possible about the organisation, including it’s current board members.
She then “talks to a few other people to see if I am a cultural or industry fit”.
For her recent federal agency board position, additional preparation and work was involved as it required ministerial approval.
As Leeanne is now on several boards, she thoroughly reviews all her current positions to ensure there are no conflicts of interest before accepting any new board position.