Bonnie Anley, Chair of Foyle Port in Northern Ireland, talks about the fascinating subject of governance and the real reason why board rooms need more women - and how to become a board member.Download Podcast
Bonnie Anley, Chair of Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners, based in Derry, Northern Ireland
Good governance is invisible, but you can feel a spring in the step of an organisation that is well governed.
My guest on this podcast is Bonnie Anley. She was appointed Chair of Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners in Derry in 2014. The port reported pre-tax profits of more than £2m in late 2017, and it indirectly supports 1,000 jobs and 20,000 farms. With so much experience under her belt, Bonnie has a refreshingly practical view of "women on boards": this can be a tired theme, but not so with Bonnie, who provides amazing insights into what it takes to become a valuable board member. Bonnie was on the Institute of Directors' panel for International Women's Day in March 2017.
''I was quite an unusual person in a leadership role''
Listen to Bonnie as she talks about the incredible turn of events that propulsed her to the head of a transport business at 24, and how she survived that trial by fire. Bonnie had to project a bigger persona than she felt and she learned a lot of confidence from those early days.
'If a perspective is lacking, I'll introduce it'
Bonnie shares her experience of diversity: yes, many sectors don't have enough women on boards, and then other sectors don't have enough men. It's essential to have a mix of points of view with people from all horizons: that's why boards would benefit hugely from having more women at the table. A board can't do a good job if it doesn't offer well-rounded views that account for a multitude of perspectives.
What qualities are needed in a board member?
Bonnie reflects on what makes a good board member: tact is important, as is being cognisant of the processes and protocols that are followed in a board room. And most importantly: knowing how to deal with your emotions and keeping a cool head. If you feel very strongly, you need to make sure you have the necessary knowledge to support your convictions (listen to a previous podcast guest, Aisling Curtis, as she talks about ''backing yourself up''). But what's most important is fostering an atmosphere where people feel free to share their opinions no matter what.
... And then what do you do is somebody is furious at you? Listen to Bonnie's incredible advice about how to defuse difficult situations!
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