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Game changer

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Dr Kirstin Ferguson is deputy chair of the ABC and a non-executive director of SCA Property Group, EML Payments and timber group Hyne & Son. She is also co-author of Women Kind.

Leaving a board is one of the hardest decisions to make, but the reality is, despite using the best due diligence checklists, you can get your hands on and reading months of previous board packs, there will be occasions when you join a board and soon realise it is not going to be a good fit.

For directors starting their board career, please don’t be too tough on yourself when this happens. It is important to remember many directors have been through this situation. Fortunately, I’ve found the more experienced you become as a director, the easier it is to also apply your experience, intuition, emotional intelligence and even “gut feel” to those due diligence checklists – and be much better placed to know where you will and won’t best add value around the board table.

Early in my board career, like many, I joined a board that I realised within a few months was not going to be a good fit – for them or me.

My advice would be to trust your gut, seek advice from trusted mentors and, if you know this is not going to be a board role where you feel you’ll be able to add value, as hard as it may be, you should resign. Just as important as being able to contribute your intellect in the best interests of the business is being able to truly believe in the work you and the board are doing. Where that is compromised, for whatever reason, you’ll know it’s time to go.

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