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Westpac Foundation Board Observership Program

Westpac Board Observer Matt Delmenico with Founder of The Underground Collaborative Katie Liew at social enterprise cafe Ground+Co 

Build your board’s resilience and impact

The Westpac Foundation Board Observership Program is a practical and immersive governance program designed to offer not-for-profit organisations the opportunity to invite senior corporate professionals to attend their board meetings as an observer for 12 months.


Developed in partnership with legal and consulting firm MinterEllison, the Program is a unique capability offering for our community partners seeking to bring new skills and fresh perspectives to their boards without any ongoing commitment. 

 

How it works

Observers will be selected from a range of talented senior professionals from across both Westpac Group and MinterEllison who have diverse skill sets and a genuine passion and interest in the community sector. Participants have experience in areas such as legal, HR, finance, risk management, business strategy, digital transformation and marketing.


Boards will be involved in the selection process for observers to ensure an alignment of skills and culture for the organisation and if a suitable match is found, will commit to involving the observer in all board meetings over a 12-month period. The observer will have no voting rights or obligations as a director or officer of the organisation but will be invited to contribute to discussions in an informal capacity. Boards will also have the opportunity to select more than one observer if they wish.


All observers and boards will sign an agreement which outlines the roles and responsibilities of both parties as well as provides assurance that the observer will adhere to strict confidentiality regarding board matters.


Westpac Foundation's Board Observership Program provides observers with a structured opportunity to prepare them for future directorships and includes governance training, support and networking opportunities.

Case study: The Underground Collaborative

Westpac Regional General Manager Matt Delmenico originally signed up to Westpac Foundation’s Board Observership Program because he wanted to harness his corporate leadership and marketing skills to support a not-for-profit realise its goals.


In 2019 he was paired with The Underground Collaborative, a social enterprise that provides employment and housing solutions for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness in Western Australia through their café Ground+Co and other employment initiatives.


During his time as a Board Observer Matt chaired a sub-committee, helped run a strategy session, took minutes at board meetings and joined site visits.


In his day job Matt leads a team of 130 Westpac bankers and says it’s this business banking experience that’s helped. “I’ve been able to apply some of my business development experience and financial acumen when reviewing new opportunities.”


Matt is one of 115 Westpac employees to act as a Board Observer since 2017, 100% of whom report they’ve gained professional development through the experience. Like 60% of observers on the program, Matt has now joined the Board of The Underground Collaborative on a permanent basis.


Founder of The Underground Collaborative Katie Liew says the board was incredibly fortunate to have Matt as their Observer. 


“Matt did far more than the role required, and even continued on to join as a Board Member once the Program had finished. The Board couldn’t be more thrilled to have him!”


The Underground Collaborative is not alone in finding value in the program. All 78 of the Boards involved in the program agreed that their Observer was able to add value by bringing their skills and perspective to the organisation.


“There is so much collective wisdom in the Boardroom,” says Matt, “and we lean on each other for the greater good.”