Changing the Face of the Boardroom: Anita Keestra

In this interview series, we take a look at life as a ‘non traditional’ board member and the benefits they bring to boards and organisations.

Today we are profiling Anita Keestra. Anita is a fantastic female board leader from New Zealand. Bringing a diverse range of perspectives – ethnic, gender, and a fascinating blend of experience – she is certainly bucking the boardroom trend of pale, stale, and male.

Get On Board Australia (GOBA): What boards do you sit on?

Anita Keestra (AK): I currently sit on a number of boards. I am Deputy Chair at Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) and a member of ARMS Social Enterprise Committee. I am on the Board of Trustees of Papatoetoe High School, and Deputy Chair of the Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (EPAP) of Auckland Council. I joined that panel in 2013 and was recently reappointed for another term until 2019.

GOBA: What is unique about you as a board member?

AK: Apart from the obvious ones [female and from a culturally diverse background], I am a professional person with huge networks, and have a unique and extensive experience in community development, business development and ethnic diversity. I also have a great passion for ethnic communities, empowering women and youth.

GOBA: How did you get your board seat?

AK: I have gained my board seats by being elected or appointed. All of the boards I am on were advertised.

GOBA: How does your uniqueness benefit the board / organisation?

AK: Being a woman with a blend of two cultures puts me in a unique position in being able to view things from a much broader perspective

Additionally, my networks and mix of skills and experiences enhances my strategic abilities and my contributions at governance levels.

GOBA: What has your experience on a board been like? Do you feel that your differences are a benefit or a hindrance?

AK: I feel that they are an absolute benefit! I am very approachable and general get on very well with people; this enables me to put my ideas/opinions forward in a practical and easy-to-understand way.

GOBA: What advice would you give to people in a similar situation to you?

AK: When you get a chance to be on a board, please go for it! Your contribution will benefit the community you serve and the community at large.

If you’d like to connect with Anita, you can find her on LinkedIn.

[heading] ABOUT CHANGING THE FACE OF THE BOARDROOM [/heading]

Many times I am told by aspiring board members that they feel like they are not qualified for the boardroom, or that they have nothing to offer. Much of this self-opinion comes from the perception that is reinforced in messages about the boardroom; you have to be old, connected, conservative, and extremely educated to be on a board.

I call BS on this!

I am certain that there are many wonderful board members out there who don’t fit the traditional “pale and stale” stereotype of company directors / board members. People who came to the boardroom along the path less travelled, with a unique career background or because of some rare characteristic that has proved invaluable for an organisation.

I know they’re out there and I want to profile them to show aspiring directors that they do have something to offer. That the boardroom is somewhere they can thrive and give back; and that their uniqueness can have extraordinary value to an organisation. I want organisations and people everywhere to know it too.

[heading] READ OTHER CHANGING THE FACE OF THE BOARDROOM PROFILES [/heading]

Nicole Nader

The Board of Mr.Perfect

Vicky Welgraven

Marie Skrodzki

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newsletter for new and aspiring company directors

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