Young professionals bring fresh governance perspective

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The traditional image of the boardroom table being surrounded by people in middle-age and older, is increasingly becoming outdated. The modern boardroom is about bringing diversity to the fore – not just in terms of age and ethnicity, but in diversity of thought, says Priority One.

Diversity is seen as bringing positive, lasting results to organisations. Boards all over the world are taking notice of younger voices that bring new perspectives and fresh experiences. Locally, Priority One, is leading the way with the appointment of two Young Professional Board Members who have been co-opted onto the governance board.

Jack Christianson from Zespri and Kelly Williams from Cucumber have joined the Priority One board. Chair Brett Hewlett said bringing in Young Professional Members reflects the broader company culture, which values mixing young professionals with generations of local knowledge and experience.

“There are positive and lasting results in organisations governed by diverse boards,” he said.
“While years of experience often translates to effective board service, so too can the ground-level perspective that young professionals bring.”

Crafting the future

Priority One was helping to craft the future of Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty, said Hewlett.
“It’s important for us to ensure we have diversity of voice at the boardroom level, and across the business, to keep driving us forward.”

Young professionals brought a different perspective to the board table, often offering new ideas, a deeper understanding of emerging technologies, cultural trends and the increasingly important role of social networks, he said.

“For Priority One in particular we want to know what attracts young people to Tauranga and how to retain those we already have… we need to maximise the opportunities available to young people so they want to stay and grow their careers here, or start their own businesses here.”

Bryan Graham, chair of the Institute of Director’s Bay of Plenty Branch, said the IoD was pleased to see Priority One initiate the programme. .

“Diversity of thought is crucial around the board table,” he said.

“The IoD, which has the Future Directors and Mentoring for Diversity programmes, supports initiatives like this which help develop director talent.”

While years of experience often translates to effective board service, so too can the ground-level perspective that young professionals bring.” – Brett Hewlett

First-hand experience

Zespri’s Christianson credited the company’s chief global supply officer Blair Hamil for nominating him for the position.

“This opportunity provides first-hand experience of what is required to shape the strategic direction of an organisation,” he said.

“I’ll be learning from existing board members; it’s a unique opportunity to get involved in the development of our region and to interact with the wider Western Bay of Plenty business community.
Kelly Williams, a junior software developer at digital services company Cucumber, said she took a broad interest in the economic growth of the wider region, with a particular interest in the hort-tech industry.

“I moved to Tauranga two years ago and have been amazed at the quality of our local tech industry,” said Williams.

“With the passion of our local industry and the amount of growth we’re experiencing, Tauranga has the potential to be New Zealand’s innovation hub.

“I’m looking forward to being able to use the experience and knowledge I gain through working with the Priority One board to enable me to give back to and support the community in a meaningful and thoughtful way.”

Christianson and Williams will hold their Young Professional Memberships on the Board until the end of 2020.

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