LIFE AFTER THE CEO INSTITUTE

Written on the 19 October 2010

LIFE AFTER THE CEO INSTITUTE

SUE Forrester may have finished her role as CEO Institute Queensland chief executive, but with five board positions she still has a lot going on. She tells Brisbane Business News about a feeling of ‘liberation’ with plans to take on two large board roles.

What prompted you to leave the CEO Institute?

The CEO Institute is a licensed business and the head office of it all is in Melbourne. Over the last three years that I’d been there we doubled the membership and increased the profile significantly in Queensland. As a result the Melbourne office made an offer to the Queensland owners and they accepted. The official handover was on October 1 and the new CEO is Evan Douglas.

I had a contract that allowed for me to have my five board positions and it was flexible to allow me to go to Ergon Energy meetings in Townsville or to meet with the Shine Lawyers board for example. But the new owners wanted someone there full time, and if something had to give I wasn’t prepared to resign from those boards. I ran the CEO Institute for corporates in Queensland but the new model is more focused on SMEs.

How do you feel about the move?


It’s incredibly liberating to have made the decision to step down. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a full-time executive role. I’m absolutely in control of my destiny. When you have free time it gets completely absorbed on your existing boards and I plan to have two more large board roles, whether they be public or private.

What is the secret to a good portfolio of board positions?

What you do need is a balanced portfolio of boards that are of different sizes and note, from different industries and at different stages of the life cycle. Shine Lawyers might be growing so rapidly that it needs strategic input, but next week it could be Ergon, so you have to be prepared. Ergon’s actually been through a lot in the last 12 months – there’s been a regulatory reset which is very complicated process to set revenue for the next five years, and there’s a book about 4.5 inches thick, and we’ve had a CEO appointment and organisational strategic review.

There’s the Queensland Professional Credit Union and there’s Parklands, and when I talk about the different stages in the life cycle, that one’s nearing the retirement stage. There’s a message from the Premier that the asset will be closing in 2013, so we make sure it’s prepared for that closure.

You also were also a director for the recent Brisbane Festival. What work has that involved?

I’ve been there for 12 months and it’s been excellent. I came on at the end of the last festival and we went over what the market wanted, what was popular. We appointed a new artistic director and a GM, so there was a big change in the executive. We set a new strategy and when the festival came I went to something like 24 events. My favourite was Danza, a group of contemporary Cuban dancers. This role was a classic example of getting your strategies sorted out, and it was an ambassadorial role too.


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