11 Feb 2014

Preparation the key lesson

8:10 am on 11 February 2014

Sheridan Broadbent will be one of the first graduates from the future directors scheme after she attends her last Auckland International Airport board meeting on Wednesday.

The future directors initiative, backed by Sir Stephen Tindall, Michael Stiassny and Des Hunt from the Shareholders' Association, is designed to develop the next generation of directors and to increase diversity around the board table.

Participants sit on the board of a New Zealand company and participate in all board matters but don't have voting rights.

Sheridan Broadbent, whose day job is Genesis Energy strategy and business technology general manager at Genesis Energy, said she joined the airport's board with high expectations but the experience had been even more valuable than she expected.

"I guess the experience of attending board meetings with an NZX top-five company in itself was very useful but what really has stood out as being the mentoring and encouragement and the learning opportunity from the other directors around the table."

The most valuable lesson she had taken away is to be well prepared, she said.

"Do the reading, ask questions, research the company in the market to give yourself some context, particularly early on, and grab hold of any historical board papers that you can.

"By doing a lot of homework before I attended by first board meeting, it really gave me good insight into the journey that organisation had been on."

It was also important to listen, especially in a role such as hers where she was there to soak up knowledge, not tell people what to do.

All up, it was a fantastic opportunity to see some masters at governance in action and to learn from that, Ms Broadbent said.