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Career portfolio broadens

As well as progressing at work, a number of

secondees expanded their career portfolios

post-secondment by accepting board positions

at Indigenous organisations. Trish Clancy was

seconded to the East Kimberley in 2011 to work

at Wunan, an Aboriginal development organisation.

Later, Trish was invited to join the board of the

organisation, along with Ross Love from BCG.

Trish reflected that her position on the Wunan

board has been a valuable professional

development opportunity: ‘Board experience is

extraordinary, in terms of understanding how our

clients behave and what level of detail they want

to see in our work … Also in terms of seeing how

long things take, seeing them through.’

Richie Hadfield was invited to join the board of

Youth Connections, a not-for-profit that helps

young Indigenous people access employment,

education and training, after his secondment to

the organisation in 2013. The board opportunity

arose as a direct result of his secondment. Richie

said: ‘Jawun gave me the opportunity to get in that

space to prove myself to the directors at Youth

Connections. Without it, I would have just been

some guy with a CV.’ Richie also explained the

value of his role on the board of Youth Connections

for his professional development:

In terms of strategic development and

commercial experience, what I am learning there

is far beyond anything that I would learn here at

work, unless I was in the upper echelons of group

strategy. It is far beyond anything I would learn

doing an MBA.

In 2013, Jaimes Adlington, from the

Group Audit team at Westpac, was

seconded to Tranby Aboriginal

College in Glebe, Sydney. Tranby

is a not-for-profit organisation

that delivers vocational education

and training (VET) courses to

Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander students from across

Australia. Jaimes was motivated

to apply for secondment by the

opportunity to contribute to

community. ‘I was starting to

feel that I needed something

else—from a personal satisfaction

perspective—rather than just

coming to work every day,’

he said.

Prior to Jaimes’ secondment,

the college had been through

a challenging period, with a

reduction in federal funding and a

decrease in the numbers of staff

and students. Jaimes worked

closely with Tranby CEO Belinda

Russon to review the college’s

financial position, making several

recommendations and introducing

new processes. Along the way he

found his perceptions changing.

‘You grow up with certain

perspectives on Indigenous culture

and certain things conveyed to

you, whether it be through your

parents or through the media,

friends or school life. But you don’t

necessarily verbalise that or think

like that on a daily basis because

you don’t see it. So when you go

out there, you’re dealing with 99%

Indigenous people and all of a

sudden whatever those embedded

things were bubble up and you

realise, “Okay, that’s not right.”’

Returning to Westpac, Jaimes

found the experience affected the

way he approached his role. He

identified patience, empathy and

more considered decision-making

as key growth areas. ‘It makes you

think more about: “Where does

that person come from? Why are

they acting that way? Why are they

communicating to you in that way?”’

But Jaimes’ Tranby story didn’t

end there. In mid-2013 he was

invited to join the Tranby Board.

‘They were looking for someone to

augment the board from a financial

and commercial background,’

Jaimes says. ‘And I was looking

for a way to continue the contact

without leaving Westpac.’

Jaimes’ board role has led to

further professional development

opportunities, including external

directorship courses organised

through Westpac. ‘I deal with

boards here. So to learn more from

the other side has been invaluable.

Now when I present to a board,

I think about mindset—for

example, What are they likely to

do with this piece of information

they’re getting? Now I can put

myself in their shoes.’

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer

endorsed the value of this

relationship for Westpac: ‘I’m not

sure who has benefited more from

this exchange: Tranby College,

through Jaimes’ advice; Jaimes

himself, through an excellent

professional development

opportunity; or Westpac, since

Jaimes has become a real leader.’

Joining the board of

an Indigenous organisation