Bindi Norwell discusses her recent experience as a Future Director with The Warehouse Group (TWG) with Carrie Hobson and Jo Baxter.
As part of TWG’s commitment to learning and development, and to supporting the next generation of governance talent and gender diversity in the boardroom, TWG appointed Bindi as its 2015 participant in the Future Director programme. Bindi concluded her appointment in October 2015. Hobson Leavy were delighted to be involved with Bindi’s appointment to the TWG Future Director Programme.
By way of background, Bindi is a Director at TNS New Zealand. She has over 15 years’ business experience, specialising in strategic management, having worked in a variety of senior strategy and commercial roles in the UK Telecoms sector and in the aviation industry in Australia.
The Future Director Programme is a broad-based joint initiative aimed at addressing the experience gap faced by skilled younger professionals seeking to become directors of public companies and gives them 12 months’ exposure and experience at Board level.
We interviewed Bindi with respect to her experience and asked her the following questions.
How did you find the last year?
It was an incredible professional development experience – a very valuable journey. It involved a steep learning curve, yet in a supportive environment. I was fortunate to be mentored by some of this country’s most experienced Board Directors. Over the past year I was exposed to a myriad of governance issues including the recruitment of a new CEO. There is a real richness in being exposed to all of that. I learnt a lot about how Board members work together and with the company on common goals – and constructive ways to ask questions and promote different ways of viewing issues and opportunities.
How did you find your first Board meeting?
The first Board meeting was positive for me, as I was made to feel welcome and part of the Board from the beginning. I was also encouraged to participate in Board discussions. Preparing for the Board meeting involved investing time in researching TWG and the market, spending time in stores in addition to reading the Board papers. As well as learning about Governance, I was conscious that I wanted to add value, so I spent time before the meeting thinking about ways I could draw from my areas of expertise and continued to do this before each board meeting.
What surprised you?
The level that TWG supported and embraced the programme throughout the year.
What advice would you give to a Future Director?
I found that to get the most out of the programme it was important to do the preparation. TWG had deliberately structured an induction programme which was tailored initially towards ensuring I came up to speed with retail and with the history of TWG, and then financial governance and remuneration, and marketing governance in order to build my knowledge. I received mentoring from all of the board members, with a focus on their particular area of expertise which was done in a considered and purposeful way.
My personal view is that to embark on the Future Director programme, it is important that you are committed to governance to make the most of the opportunity. The programme required a significant time commitment, so having the support of your employer if you are working is pretty important. I was fortunate in that my employer was supportive and allowed me the flexibility to attend all Board meetings.
It is important to understand your core expertise and how you will add value. For me that crystallised over time.
Be comfortable with sharing your point of view. Be clear on your development plan and your skills and capabilities. I identified early on in the programme the areas where I needed the most support and shared these with the Chair. We were able to put a plan in place for me to learn as quickly as possible. I also used the Institute of Directors skills competency plan.
What do you intend to do next?
I miss being a part of the TWG Board as after 12 months I felt part of the company. I would like to continue on a governance journey with a board appointment, ideally in the near future. I am keen to continue with my executive career in the meantime to support a governance career in the future. I also will continue to help others with their understanding of the FD programme to assess whether it is something they are interested in pursuing.