In July 2021, Allison Anderson began her Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) supported by a WITH Tas Scholarship made possible by funding from the Tasmanian Government through its Women in Leadership Program.
The course consists of five specific areas: Governance and the Practice of Directorship; The Legal Environment; Risk & Strategy; Financial Literacy and Performance and Achieving Board Effectiveness. As she went through the course, Allison updated the WITH Committee on her progress – what follows is an insight into her journey.
Preparation begins six weeks out when a solid parcel arrives at the door with the pre-course reading inside…
In July, Allison wrote: I’m about a week and a half in – there is so much to read but it is really interesting! The first section is on Governance and the practice of directorship. It talks about the director mindset and it’s really good to see how progressive the thinking is.
I am a big fan of Jim Collins (BE 2.0, Good to Great and other awesome management books) and Brené Brown who does my favourite podcast and wrote Dare to Lead. The philosophies in the Company Director’s Course feel similar to these - talking about productivity and positive relationships, boundaries and being clear on the very big differences between being a board member and a CEO.
I’m also learning about the different kinds of companies and the regulatory frameworks around them. That is some pretty dry reading but it is great to have a reference point to be able to look back if I need it.
In all, I’m really loving it and still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be doing the course at all.
She continues: I have just finished my interpreting financial statements e-learning module and surprised myself by both enjoying it and actually understanding it!
I am really looking forward to getting out of my office and into a learning environment with other people - spending a whole week engrossed in one thing in an on-site environment is a bit of a privilege at the moment and I am pleased we can enjoy it.
There have been plenty of opportunities to draw on my learnings already. Complexities of board processes and decisions have made me realise that the AICD course is right - culture in the board room sets the tone for the organisation and it is critical to pay attention to it. I think this is something we can really focus on as a starting point for improving the health of boards and organisations in Tasmania.
The five day in person course was conducted in the first week of October when Allison joined 20 other people from 8.45am-4.30pm every day. She says: There was very little time to do anything but absorb. As previously mentioned, we had a lot of reading to do and I felt prepared but it was still quite a lot of information being dealt out.
Each day was led by a different facilitator, all of whom were seasoned directors with a broad range of experience in different organisations and were mostly lawyers and accountants. We had a mix of discussions and group exercises and the people on the course were delightful.
We have since caught up over Zoom to discuss assessment and will be going out for a drink in the next couple of weeks together. We have three pieces of assessment that we need to pass to be able to become a Graduate of the AICD (GAICD), on top of attending the course:
- A 3,000 word assignment (bullet point) asking us to think like a director as we come on to a hypothetical board (this is what the zoom meeting was about. It's an individual exercise but very useful to talk with people about);
- An online quiz; and
- An exam.
I'm trying to get the assignment done and submitted first and then hopefully that will help with the exam and quiz!
I really enjoyed the Achieving Board Effectiveness day and realised that financials are still a mega struggle for me. But I am plugging on and feeling happy that I have learned a lot.
At the conclusion Allison delivered some great news – for her, for the WITH Committee and for the future of women in board rooms:
I am very relieved and thrilled to let you know that I have officially passed the AICD Company Director's Course!
It was actually quite hard. I had to pass an exam, quiz and assessment and I just found out I have passed all of them.
So thank you for the opportunity and the encouragement. I appreciate the faith you had in me and I hope we can put it to good use.
Since completing the course, Allison Anderson has taken up a board position on East Coast Tasmania Tourism adding to her non-executive directorship with Northern Tasmanian Development Corporation.
At the 2021 WITH Tas AGM, Allison also shared her experience and insights into the ACID Course, highlighting how valuable this type of education and support is to assist women gain leadership roles.
In being provided with this opportunity, Allison started thinking about the strategies WITH is using to lift women in tourism and hospitality and thought it would be good to really understand the aspirations, barriers and opportunities women face in our industry. She spoke with some friends and the WITH executive about developing a report about the State of Women in Tourism that WITH could use as a tool to help think about what opportunities they provide to women and also providing a robust platform for us to advocate on women’s issues in tourism and hospitality. Happily, her colleague Aletta Macdonald also thought it was a great idea and they are now working on it together.