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Women on Boards Success Stories – Dominique Layt

Currently, as Head of Stores & Specialty Banking Delivery at Suncorp Group, Dominique oversees the performance and insights, operational management, help desk support, sales and business development frameworks and coaching, and executive reporting. Her commitment to leadership and mentoring has seen Dominique Chair the inaugural Suncorp Women Connect which is an Employee Resource Group focussed on gender equality.

What boards do you sit on?

The Somerville House Foundation which is a not for profit company limited by guarantee whose primary goals are to raise funds for major capital works and scholarships for the school.

When and why did you decide to become a director? 

Since working in risk management and governance during and after the GFC I developed a passion for governance and risk management. As the Secretariat for several risk committees I learned a great deal about the critical role of Directors. I have been fortunate during my career to have developed strong capabilities in a number of key areas including strategy, risk, governance, customer insights and experience and operations. Becoming a Director was the next logical step in my career enabling me to continue to learn and grow whilst utilising my experience and capability.

What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?

I am honoured to have been appointed to my first Director role and would like to continue to grow my experience through additional Director roles. This would allow me to learn from a diverse group of Directors and industries whilst also contributing to the effective oversight of each organisation.

Outline your career background.

I have over 30 years of experience in financial services across three ASX top 20 companies. My career has seen me develop core skills in risk, governance, strategy, customer insights and experience, leadership, sales management and operations. I hold a MBA specialising in Strategic Human Resources, a Diploma of Project Management, Diploma of Management, Diploma of Business (Frontline Management) and I am a Chartered Manager of the Institute of Managers and Leaders and a Commissioner for Declarations. Gender equity is a key passion and as such I am currently the Chair of Suncorp Women Connect which is Suncorp’s gender equity employee resource group.

Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them? 

As with most roles as you progress your career, Director roles are highly sought after so competition is rife. Being capable and qualified does not guarantee you an interview let alone a seat at the table. The core requirements are always being capable and qualified but ensuring you have invested time in building and maintaining your professional relationships throughout your career is equally as important to securing a role as a Director as it is to being the successful applicant for any role.

Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why? 

One of my former leaders, Karen Smith-Pomeroy, is currently the Director on a number of Boards. Karen was the Chief Risk Officer when I worked under her leadership and I learned a great deal from her about values and ethics amongst many things. Karen has been a brilliant mentor for me over a number of years and someone I greatly respect and admire.

Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?

One of my mentors, Wendy Leegel, provided me brilliant guidance more than 15 years ago about the value of a personal Board which needed to include mentors, sponsors and advocates. Just like the Board of a company the personal Board needs to have the right mix of skills and competencies to help you with your career. Ensuring the number of Board positions is right so you are able to build and maintain strong relationships with your Board is extremely important. Thanks to this advice from my mentor I have leveraged the skills and experience of my personal Board to guide me in key career decisions, provide coaching and advice on challenging situations and challenge each other’s thinking on key industry related topics.

What’s the diversity (gender & other) like on your boards? 

My Board is the major capital work and scholarships fund raising company for a leading girls school, Somerville House. As such many of the Directors are alumni of the school and the Board mix is predominately female.

How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom? 

Women on Boards provides wonderful resources and stories from other women who have been breaking the glass ceiling of gender equity at the highest level. WOB not only provides important resources but also motivation to continue to strive for equity which we know from research will deliver greater profit outcomes for organisations.

Any tips for women starting out in their career?

Set up your personal Board as soon as you can. If you are not sure where to start find yourself a mentor, you click with and work with them on setting up your Board.

author avatar
Dominique, a seasoned financial services professional with 30+ years of experience. MBA holder, disruptive strategy certified, project management qualified. Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and Chartered Manager. Contact for expert financial advice.

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