I am often asked how a high school teacher who taught English Language and Literature became the Chair of the Board of Bank First. I must admit it even surprised me at the time, and at times, I still reflect with wonder that I am the Chair. Obviously, it has been quite a transforming experience.
Teaching and executive school leadership do require a range of competencies and certain key dispositions. Teachers are automatically leaders and life-long learners. They are passionate about their method areas, they have to have high level emotional intelligence and have a real commitment to serving the learning communities to which they contribute. There is no greater privilege in life than providing and developing environments where young people can flourish. Building community is very rewarding.
Principal class leadership experience adds dimension, which has stood me in good stead as Chair of the Board. Ethical leadership is imperative in schools and in banks. Ethics revolves around the architecture of choice predicated on Socrates’ essential question: What ought one do? The Royal commission into Misconduct in Banking, Financial Services and Superannuation has revealed high-level discussion on questions around what can or will we do where ethics faded from deliberations.
Therefore, the shift for me from education to Bank First has been relatively straightforward, because, like a school, a mutual bank is based on sound principles and ethical decisions. The impact on the customer is always on the agenda. Once I studied up on governance requirements, in the context and language of financial services it was a relatively smooth shift into my current role, which brings me challenge but much satisfaction.
Add to this my teacher’s knowledge of the synergies that effective teams can co-create and build, and my gratitude for the depth and talent of our leadership team – both executive and directors – and my confidence grows. I am honoured to represent our customers as the Chair of our Board.