Board Level
2 - Jackie McArthur on the best kept secret of being a director
Nov 11, 2019 · 27 min
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Jackie McArthur MAICD is on the boards of poultry producer Inghams, seafood producer Tassal, and funeral services provider Invocare. She is also a former director of Blackmores and in her previous executive life was a supply chain executive at McDonalds.

Here Jackie, a former engineer, talks about moving from management into the boardroom, working with board recruiters, the importance of mentoring and... she reveals the best kept secret of being  director.

 

Valuable Discussion Points

[01:29] How did Jackie’s pathway lead her to a NED career?

Anything but linear, Jackie’s career began as an engineer, however, eventually she moved into logistics and supply chain management. Building a wealth of experience, Jackie specialised in supply food chain manufacturing, crisis management and consumer insights both nationally and internationally. These skills, along with her understanding of International affairs, had Jackie approached by headhunters who assisted in realizing a long held ambition to be a director and leader.

[05:09] With all the success Jackie was having in management, what made becoming a NED so desirable?

Jackie believes that being a NED is the ‘world's best kept secret’, operating in a capacity that allows you to navigate various industries and businesses. Apart of the new breed of director, Jackie insists that instead of winding down, she’s finding new dynamic ways to affect and influence change for boards and shareholders.

[08:33] How did Jackie’s career give her insight into a NED career?

Stemming from her experience in high tension situations and global affairs, Jackie had the ability to add instant value and insight to any board. This experience also allowed her to understand and navigate a variety of communications and conversations with a number of board members.

[12:04] Do you have any advice for aspiring NED’s in regards to that period of adjustment when affirming your position on a board?

No matter how well you’ve trained or how ripe you are with experience, nothing will prepare you for the meetings and conversations held around a board table. However, Jackie believes that she gives advice with three things in mind;

  • How does ‘her’ story relate to them?
  • What skill sets (strengths) have assisted her in moving up?
  • Where does she need to improve?

 [13:47] What were some desirable skills or lessons you learnt that recruiters like about you that you didn’t expect?

The relevance of varying industry involvement shocked Jackie when she discovered her background in engineering intrigued board recruiters. Throughout her career both nationally and internationally Jackie had been apart of organisations that had issues, and remained apart of these organisations, solving these problems and leaving them better than when she arrived, and recruiters loved this about her.

[19:25] What does your network mentors and mentees look like?

Surrounding herself with ‘champions’, Jackie has a group of roughly 12 individuals who are at all different stages of their career and she trusts them to provide relevant advice and guidance.

[21:54] What would you tell an aspiring women director that you believe would entice them towards a career as a NED?

 A continuation of her career as a manager in various industries, Jackie believes everybody’s journey is different, however, the one constant is that skills and experience will place you in a position to succeed. The evolution of the modern board has resulted in participants not needing any fancy degrees or powerful connections, rather, boards are becoming more diverse, and as long as you’re willing to play the long game, you’ll find one that you’ll be able to influence and change.

Key Learnings 

  • A career into becoming a director can, and often is non-linear. There is no perfect pathway.
  • Employers like scares, it means you’ve struggled and had the determination to improve.
  • Being a NED is the world’s best kept secret
  • Surround yourself with champions, and these are people who promote and enable your best interest both in your company and in the company of others.
  • Becoming a NED is not something you do at the end of your career for a hobby, it’s a proactive and self-maintained dynamic position that allows you to influence and affect multiple organisations, industries and businesses.

Quotable Quotes

“Like many people I guess I see myself as being quite tragic in the area of networking. I really have to push myself to go to certain functions or networking functions that I know will bring me into a circle of people that are not people I've met before” – Jackie McArthur

“I don't have a network because I don't network, as it turns out I have a strong group of individuals at various stages of their career that I can rely on and call on and trust to give great advice”

 – Jackie McArthur

 “The only constant in life is change” – Jackie McArthur

Important Resources and Links 

If you would like to gain knowledge in governance, and develop as a director in your industry or field, visit https://www.aicd.com.au.

If you would like to learn more about how CommBank is ensuring women are advancing their growth in business, visit https://www.commbank.com.au/women-in-focus.html.

 Host of the Board Level podcast, Catherina 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 https://www.abc.net.au/news/catherine-fox/5244818.

If you’re interested in connecting with Jackie or viewing her professional portfolio and achievements, visit her LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackie-mcarthur-2846509/.

The Board Level podcast is produced by Nicole Hatherly, recorded at RadioHub Studios with post production by Cooper SilkIain Wilson and Matthew Lane.

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