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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with Brett O Riley

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Brett O Riley

Name: Brett O’Riley

Current title: Chief Executive Officer

Current organisation: EMA

Experienced Board member and CEO working in the spaces between the private and public sector, leveraging a long career in both and 20 years in the tech sector in New Zealand, Australia and internationally.

7 Questions with Brett O Riley


1. What have you found most challenging as a board member?

Maintaining the line between governance and operational issues.

2. How did you become a board member? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I seem to have been in governance roles for most of my adult life. I think this has come down to my experience in working at senior levels in both the private and public sector since my 20s, and my ability to stand back from issues and provide independent input.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Mental and physical exercise early in the morning, media and conference calls 8-10, external meetings rest of the morning, internal meetings and interactions in the afternoon. Reset and reflections between 6-7.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Be your authentic self.

5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a organisation?

Try to be professional in your engagement and constructively challenge, question and provide feedback. Come well prepared for meetings having read the papers and had time to reflect. Listen a lot and acknowledge good work as well as pointing out concerns.
Provide and seek regular feedback to the Chair on your performance and the wider board performance.

6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a organisation?

Implementation should always be in the hands of the executive but I am happy to assist if they think I can add value, similarly in mentoring executives as part of the Board role. Conversely the Board needs to meet sometimes without the executives to form their own views on critical issues.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member so far?

The importance of testing assumptions of both the Board and executives when considering issues and making decisions, and the importance of being willing to take the “devil’s advocate” position to ensure you are not engaged in group think. The pre-mortem technique is sometimes useful.

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