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7 Questions with Jillian Cable
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7 Questions with Jillian Cable
Name: Jillian Cable
Current title: Principal
Current organisation: J. Cable Consulting t/a The Acting CEO
Jillian (Jill) Cable FAIM, GAICD, DESS (Fr), GDipBIA, DipPM & OHS, has extensive management experience in global corporations, SMEs and For Purpose organisations, within Australia and internationally. She was the 2014 NT Telstra Businesswoman in both the Innovation and Community and Government categories. Currently the principal of J. Cable Consulting, she was most recently the Chief Executive Officer of Venture Housing Company Ltd in the Northern Territory and previously held the role of Executive Director (MD) of the YWCA of Darwin, both For Purpose organisations. Her career spans being an Executive HR and WHS Manager with Air France KLM; the General Manager and Company Secretary of a boutique financial services group in Sydney; owning a motel in the Kimberley and bringing a struggling Aboriginal organisation back into profitability and ten years working on large infrastructure projects in emerging nations with Siemens AG. Jill studied and commenced her career in France and speaks French and German. She has held board positions in both the corporate and non-profit sectors.
1. What have you found most challenging as a board member?
Keeping the discussion at a strategic ‘helicopter’ view level rather than deep dives into operational matters; noting that it is essential to have the budget for comprehensive audits of operational processes in order to provide the directors with comfort that the organisation is legally compliant and well-managed. Ensuring that one is risk-based but not risk-averse and that there is not a culture of group-think, nor a board comprised of like-minded acquaintances.
2. How did you become a board member? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I have largely served on the Boards of peak bodies that have either been relevant to my employment, have been a particular passion or have been incorporated in my employment. With respect to the first two cases, I have generally been invited to nominate.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am currently on an extended holiday around the East Coast of Australia, particularly Far North Queensland, in a 13ft van with two 43kg dogs and a cat. All my working life I have been very structured - planning the next day the evening before, modifying my week as things arise and the keeper of long, prioritised lists which I would joyfully draw a line through as tasks were completed. I rigorously project managed myself. So now, for a complete change, my life I am living with no structure and finding my ‘inner hippy’! I can throughly recommend it for a short period but now completely refreshed, I am planning my next business venture!
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
To know thyself! To have a solid personal framework and boundaries. Where possible to nip issues in the bud before they take on a life of their own. And to be firm but kind. There will always be haters and nay sayers, so stay true to your moral compass.
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a organisation?
Understand the organisation’s regulatory environment and governance requirements (it is unforgivable to accept a Board role and to not do your homework in this regard.
Ensure the executive management team also understand and have efficient processes in place which are regularly internally monitored.
Ensure well-credential led and experienced external auditors undertake a comprehensive audit - the timeframe for which will be determined by the size and type of organisation and its regulatory environment.
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a organisation?
The Board should thoroughly understand the organisation’s regulatory environment and purpose and operate at a helicopter view level setting the strategy and future direction; whilst providing oversight - through external experts and board reporting- of operational matters. It is the CEO and executive team’s role to execute the strategy through the business plan and to manage the organisation in compliance with its regulatory environment.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member so far?
That the best board of which I have been a member had a highly diverse composition (gender, ethnicity, sociology-economic and sexual orientation); were not from an existing group of acquaintances and were all utterly passionate about the organisation’s success and purpose. The diversity of opinion and respectful but robust debate was insightful and, as a result, the staff were thoroughly engaged and the organisation highly successful after a long period in the doldrums.