Rising stars complete course

elebrating the completion of a six-month governance course are (from left, front row) Suzanne...
elebrating the completion of a six-month governance course are (from left, front row) Suzanne Kinnaird and Dave Bennie, (second row) Chris Cope, Dave Tozer and Dean Delaney; (third row) Kimberley Beckett, Tony Miller, Jamie Cargill and Joe Chapman; (fourth row) Katie Deveraux, Val Farrow, David Ford and Robyn Bennett; (fifth row) Rei Ishikawa, Claire Williams and Rob Kinney and (sixth row) Shane Montague-Gallagher, Craig Osborne, Aimee Te Tau, Neil Macdonald and Nick Fisher (slightly obscured).
When Suzanne Kinnaird was asked to join the College Council at St Margaret's College in 2006, she saw it as a good way of ``giving back''.

Ms Kinnaird (45) stayed at the residential college during her first couple of years at the University of Otago and she credited it with helping her to regain her focus and get through university successfully.

Now a financial adviser at Forsyth Barr, she is among 24 up-and-coming directors from Otago and Southland who recently completed the Institute of Directors governance development programme.

During the six-month part-time Dunedin-based course, representatives from companies, government, academia, marketing, finance and community organisations learned what it took to be a board director in governance.

The programme, which was run by the Otago-Southland branch of the Institute of Directors, was presented by a national panel of professional presenters and experienced Otago directors Stuart McLauchlan and Kathy Grant.

Branch chairman Geoff Thomas said the course was for aspiring and new directors, senior executives, people running small and medium businesses, people on community or trust boards and not-for-profit organisations.

``As well as helping people come to grips with the essentials of good governance, it's a great way to make friends with other people involved in governance and build a valuable network community of peers,'' Mr Thomas said.

Ms Kinnaird, who described the programme as a ``stepping stone'' to what the future might hold, said it had been a valuable exercise.

In terms of her personal development, it was about learning skills and knowledge so that, if she furthered her career in that area, she would have the knowledge and skills to do it well and effectively.

Networks were very important, and the course involved a group with similar aspirations and rationale for participating.

The presenters were experienced and willing to share their knowledge, while there was a lot of discussion within the group and everyone was encouraged to give input.

Originally from Alexandra, Ms Kinnaird completed a bachelor of science, majoring in mathematics, at the University of Otago.

Mathematics had always been a strong point at school, and her parents died when she was 16 and she had been keen to know how to manage her inheritance.

Ms Kinnaird was working in a bank in Central Otago when a job was advertised for a junior financial adviser at Forsyth Barr.

She thought that would make good use of her degree, and this month marked 20 years since she joined the Dunedin-based firm.

She enjoyed the interaction with clients and helping people with their financial matters.

``It's that whole `Kiwis love the DIY thing, I think sometimes to their own detriment. It's good to be able to feel like you're doing a really good job for them,'' she said.

Ms Kinnaird also loved the sharemarkets, saying it was exciting as no two days were the same. ``You never know what's going to happen during a day,'' she said.

It was a male-dominated industry, although that was definitely improving, and Dunedin had a good mix.

There was a much lower representation of women at management and board level of listed companies. Diversity was important on boards, not just female-male but ``all sorts of diversity'', she said.

Working full-time and with two young children, aged four and six, Ms Kinnaird said she had a very supportive husband and she was like every other woman who was ``juggling everything''.


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