Natasha McCarthy: The Learning Journey of Serving on Boards

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Who is Natasha McCarthy?

Natasha McCarthy is a Financial Advisory Director at PwC and graduated from the Emerging Leaders in Governance Program (ELGP) in 2016. This program is one of three elements of the Engaging Young Leaders on Aged Care and Community Boards Program. The programs mission is to facilitate aged diversity on aged care and community boards to improve board performance.

“The program opened my eyes to the NFP sector and the benefits one can brig to the sector by being involved at a board level”
Natasha McCarthy

Since completing the ELGP, Natasha has joined the Board of the Adoption Research and Counselling Service (ARCS) and the WA Youth Orchestra (WAYO). Natasha is also on a Committee for the Special Olympics WA. In her spare time Natasha has also been renovating a house, and completing a leadership course with CEDA.

Natasha is also the Perth representative for PwC onBoard, which connects PwC partners and staff with board opportunities in the community. This aims to help bring the skills of PwC staff to the community, expanding the impact of community organisations whilst providing valuable skills and experience to the staff involved.

I recently met with Natasha for a beautiful dinner at Ilpasto Italian in Inglewood to catch-up and ask her a few questions about her Board experiences.

The Learning Journey of Serving on Boards

Penny: ARCS is a small community organisation, where most Board members have a lived experience of adoption. Can you explain what you see as the value of a lived experience at the Board table?

Natasha: Having Board representatives with lived experience is crucial to ensuring the organisation stays focused on what matters to affected individuals – Board members with lived experience are generally best at bringing the focus back to the key strategy and objectives of the organisation, and typically best understand the impact of decisions made by the Board on the organisations client-base. However, balance is key, and sometimes it is those without the lived experience who can bring a new perspective or new ideas, having not been so close to the day-to-day issues.

Key learnings – Board Director Diversity brings different and useful perspectives

Penny: Did you find any issues or challenges that surprised you when you joined ARCS and WAYO?

Natasha: The biggest surprise was probably how different the two Boards are, particularly given the organisations are of similar size and age. Joining these two Boards has illustrated the differences that can arise due to the experiences and skills of the organisation’s management and Board members, and also the role of the Chair. One key challenge that has surprised me has been trying to keep a focus, as a Board, on strategy and big-picture planning for the organisation, when there are often so many operational matters to attend to – with Board meetings only so often and so long, it’s sometimes difficult to ensure strategy gets adequate attention, even though we all know how important it is.

Key learnings – Managing board behavioural dynamics are important to manage to achieve effective board governance

Penny: How has your involvement on Boards in the community sector impacted on your role as Director at PwC?

Natasha: The experience of participating in Board meetings with such diverse Board members, and interacting with the management at the NFP organisations, has helped to broaden my perspective, strengthen my leadership skills, and improve my interactions and relationships with my team and clients. As a result, I feel stronger and better-rounded in my role as a director at PwC.

Key learning – Board directorship builds capacity to translate skills and learning to other settings

Penny: How can the Western Australian community support the work that ARCS, the WA Youth Orchestra and the Committee for the Special Olympics are up to in the community?

Natasha: For WAYO, I highly recommend getting along to one of our concerts, which are fantastic – keep an eye out for the 2018 concert schedule, coming soon.

For Special Olympics, we’re hosting our annual Inspirational Women’s Breakfast on Wed 21 March, 7am at the Hyatt – for an inspiring morning, tickets are available via this link.

For ARCS, we are currently looking for Board members who are passionate about the purpose of the organisation, being the provision of counselling and support for those suffering with the pain and loss of family separations. If any potential board directors are interested, please contact me at tash2301@y7mail.com.

Penny Wakefield, ELGP Alumni Committee, 2018

About the interviewer

Penny Wakefield completed the ELGP in 2016 and is currently the Governance Manager at Therapy Focus, President of Soroptimist International Maylands, and is completing a post-graduate diploma in applied corporate governance with the Governance Institute.

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