REIQ Board Director Damien Keyes shares insights from his first 12 months on the Board and explains how being a Board Director has also benefited his business. Damien is based in Townsville and is a former REIQ Townsville Zone Chair. He is the principal of sales agency Keyes & Co.
Being elected to the Board of the REIQ is a great honour for me, especially given that it is my first directorship. It was the culmination of three years of trying, so it is very satisfying to finally arrive at the table.
A role on the Board has been of benefit to me and to my business although maybe not in the way you might think. It doesn’t bring with it media profile – unlike my previous role as a Zone Chair which was all about fronting the media on behalf of the REIQ. Being a Board Director comes with virtually zero profile and can be a lot of hard work.
So why do it, I hear you ask.
Well, the answer, for me, lies in taking on new challenges that force you to stretch out of your comfort zone; learning new things that you can take with on your journey through life. The expression, nothing great ever comes from living in your comfort zone is one I agree with.
All the great stuff that has happened in my career has occurred when I was at my most uncomfortable and vulnerable. At times it has just been a matter of faith, of trusting that if I worked hard enough and my heart was in the right place that things would eventually work out for the best.
Meeting members a huge benefit
My journey to the Boardroom has brought me into contact with many members – some I already knew and some I had never met. I’ve spent time with many amazing business owners across Queensland, all who happily and generously share their experiences. We’re united as many of us are all fighting the same battles and it’s always helpful to hear what others have done that’s worked, and what they’ve tried that’s not worked!
So, the process of actively talking to other business owners and members and really being proactive among the real estate fraternity was one of the first real benefits I gained as a Board Director.
Another expression, you only get out of it what you put in rings true for a Board Director role too. If you take the Directorship role seriously and actively engage with members, rather than sitting back as a passenger around the Board table you will gain enormous rewards.
I have also formed the beginnings of new relationships that will likely extend beyond my directorship and long into the future, which I feel very lucky to have managed to gain during the process so far.
Professional development has been enormous in this role, learning how to perform your duties as a director and ensuring I am as effective as possible. I threw myself into the five-day intensive Company Directors Course through the Australian Institute of Company Directors and I would highly recommend this course to anyone looking to become a director. It opened my mind to the new and interesting field of corporate governance. Prior to undertaking the study I knew very little about corporate governance.
In addition to the fantastic content that covered topics such as interpreting financial statements, the legal environment, decision-making, risk, strategy, and achieving Board effectiveness, classroom learning was achieved through collaboration with fellow students who were all, for the most part, executives, aspiring board directors or directors of small and large companies. And the connections made in that room (again, as long as you are not a passenger but rather fully engage in the process) will last you long into the future and can lead to future directorships if that is what you’re chasing.
In performing your Board Director duties, you find yourself having to make many decisions – some small and others large. These need your full attention so you can assess the decision from every angle and participate in debating the pros and cons with your fellow Directors to ensure the best decision is made for the benefit of the REIQ and its members.
It is this rigour around making decisions, or governance if you like, that you can apply to your own business and the decisions you make there will be all the better for having applied some process to it. Also, the effective monitoring and reporting processes that come with a Directorship which can only benefit your own business.
In closing, I would say good corporate governance is a journey not a destination. There are always things to improve upon or update, depending on the environment your company and/or industry finds itself dealing with at the time.
Just like the pursuit of excellence in business is a constant journey, a way of life, if you like, so too is that of being a great director for the companies on whose boards you sit.
Being a Director for the REIQ is just the beginning of a new journey for me and I intend to pursue being the very best director I can be to help play my part in making the REIQ fit and strong and ready for the next 100 years. It truly is a privilege to share in the organisation’s rich history and be a part of shaping its future.
The REIQ Board of Directors will call for nominations on August 31. Under the new Constitution the Board is seeking to fill the roles of a regional female Director and an under-35-year-old Director. Look for nomination emails from REIQ arriving later this week.