Find your own path

An experienced chair, director, and founder of nationwide security provider Simply Security, Lorraine Witten joined the Institute of Directors in the mid-1990s. 

Lorraine Witten

As the newly appointed Group CFO for clothing brand Canterbury - a role with plenty of board interaction - she says she needed to build her understanding of governance.  

“It was a really, really enjoyable time. With the IoD we did a lot of going out to different companies, meeting the people running them, and it really gave me a nice broad view of business and how people were tackling their issues.”

She soon stepped into governance herself, joining the IoD’s local branch committee and securing a directorship on the board of Healthlink South. She says it’s the concentration of important issues and big picture ideas at the board table that she enjoys.

“I think there is a credibility that comes with being a member as well. I’ve just become a Chartered Fellow and I’m very proud of that.”

“Plus I’m always working with smart and capable people who never cease to surprise me with unusual points of view or things that I wouldn’t think about. For all of those opinions to come together around the table and then to come out with the magic at the end, I find that really stimulating.”

She developed her governance career through a series of single directorships - including Health Benefits, Capital & Coast Health Ltd and Estaronline Ltd - while working in high profile executive roles at Canterbury and Telecom.

It wasn’t until having children that her career focus switched to governance.

“At that point I looked for how I could create a balance between trying to be a good mum, trying to be a senior executive, and keeping my career going. I ended up deciding that I couldn’t keep a senior executive job going, but that I still wanted challenge, so I kept on with my boards and created an entrepreneurial life for myself as well.”

In 2012, she undertook the IoD’s Mentoring for Diversity programme and was paired with a mentor who encouraged her to find what it was in governance that interested and challenged her, and carve her own path accordingly.

Today, she chairs business telecommunications provider Kordia and online talent directory StarNow, as well as sitting on the board of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency. In addition to her directorships, she runs Simply Security, employing over 350 security guards and serving a broad range of industries and events.

She says her IoD membership has been valuable on a number of levels, including access to up-to-date thinking on issues, training, and opportunities for networking.

“I think there is a credibility that comes with being a member as well. I’ve just become a Chartered Fellow and I’m very proud of that.”