Board Level
Board Level
23 Nov 2020
14 - Pip Marlow on the perspective gained with an executive and board role
Play • 32 mins

This episode, Catherine interviews Pip Marlow, the CEO of Salesforce ANZ & ASEAN, and previously the CEO of Customer Marketplace for Suncorp Group and Managing Director of Microsoft. Pip is also a non-executive director of Rugby Australia, sits on the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Board at UTS and is a member of the Chief Executive Women.

Valuable Discussion Points

[10:05] What is Pip’s criteria for selecting board roles?

If Pip was asked to sit on a board in the banking and insurance industry before she joined Suncorp, she would have been hesitant as this is not somewhere she had previously pictured herself. If she had held that perspective, she would have missed out on one of the best development opportunities of her career. So for Pip, taking time to understand why you think you're not interested in something and testing your biases and your assumptions can actually open up an incredible opportunity for yourself and your career.


[14:13] What are Pip’s thoughts on board diversity?

Pip is a big believer in board diversity; however, she wouldn’t let a lack of diversity on a board stop her from taking a certain role This is because it empowers you to get that first seat at the table, seek to understand why it hasn't occurred to date and look at what systems, symbols, and policy settings need to change to ensure that more diversity can flourish in the future.


[18:05] Is Pip a user of social media?  Does she think social media is useful to a board director?

Pip believes social media is a powerful platform that has responsibilities for each user. There is a conversation going on there which people have a choice to participate in to use for good not everybody does that, but the conversation will occur either way.


[24:47] On the number of female CEOs in the ASX200 dropping down, what are Pip’s thoughts?

Pip believes the rate of change has been glacial and as a result is truly deeply dissatisfied with progress. When she saw the latest stats with the ASX numbers decreasing, she saw that as a real sign of concern. Pip says that this is not a women’s issue, this is a gender equity issue and if we don't do something proactive to change that participation, then we'll accept where we are which is not good for our future generations.


[28:58] What is the one thing that Pip wish she’d known when she started out on her board career?

The first thing Pip wishes she had known was not to let your fear hold you back. The second thing is to know the difference between management and board. What are your decision rights? Your role is to govern, to oversee and to set risk appetite and ultimately help to get that balance right.


Key Learnings

  • You have to be organised and conscious on how you use your time and your trade-offs. Have a habit every month of tracking how you are spending your time; did you spend enough time for your family? For your customers? For your strategic thinking?
  • When a board is reaching out to you, there is nothing wrong with doing due diligence. A little bit of discovery and exploration in those early conversations will go a long way and contribute to your decision-making process.
  • If you opt not to join a board after a role is offered, the best gift that you can give is to promote other men and women. Shine a light on some of the talent that they may not see.


Quotable Quotes

“Shareholders are not only one, your employees are stakeholders, your community is a stakeholder, your customers are stakeholders, and sometimes certain stakeholders have one object they care most about, maybe that's profit. You have to think beyond just one particular stakeholder and just the shareholders to the broader community that you serve and operate in.” – Pip Marlow

“I try and say it's not about something being right for you. It's what's best for you right now because if only something one thing is right, everything else is wrong. When we put that pressure right and wrong in a decision like this, I think it can stop you taking a step forward because you're worried about it being the wrong thing.”– Pip Marlow

“If it's not the right one for you, shine a light on some of the talent out there that may not be seen by other people because that's the gift you can give.” – Pip Marlow

“When I feel like I'm a female raising this issue, people say are you self-serving? This isn't about self-serving. This is about everybody having equal access to jobs opportunities.” – Pip Marlow

“You can't let your fear hold you back because that holds you back from contributing, holds you back from helping others. So don't listen to your fears, your imposters, your insecurities. You're sitting at that table because you earned it.”– Pip Marlow



Important Resources and Links

If you would like to gain knowledge in governance, and develop as a director in your industry or field, visit

If you would like to learn more about how CommBank is ensuring women are advancing their growth in business, visit

Host of the Board Level podcast, Catherine Fox is one of Australia’s leading commentators on women and the workforce. If you’re interested in learning more about Catherine and the issues she’s currently discussing, visit

If you’re interested in connecting with Pip Marlow or viewing her professional portfolios and achievements, visit her LinkedIn via

The Board Level podcast is produced by Nicole Hatherly, recorded at RadioHub Studios with post production by Cooper Silk and Iain Wilson

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