Life after winning Olympic gold can be just as exciting as taking on challenges in the corporate world says new Fortescue Metals Group board member Jenn Morris.
Morris, who was appointed non-executive director of the FMG board in November, and attended her first official meeting just weeks ago, says her best working days are yet to come.
She shared the fascinating story of her rise from the sports field to the boardroom at the ANZ-CCI Economic Breakfast on 28 March.
Morris retired from the Hockeyroos after winning gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics and was part of the pioneering Ric Charlesworth-coached team.
Despite the jubilation, she never picked up a hockey stick again and deliberately steered away from working as a coach or commentator.
Instead she moved into the corporate world where she became partner in the consulting division of Deloitte, specialising in large-scale business transformation programs and strategy development.
Morris is feeling pretty chuffed at being selected to sit on the FMG board – she’s one of five female non-executive directors and part of a team that makes FMG the first company in the ASX Top 20 to have five female directors.
“I’ve spent a bit of time up at site with (FMG Chairman) Andrew Forrest and that’s been pretty cool,” she says.
“My understanding was that Andrew had lots of mining, investment finance and audit risk type people that you normally have that make up a board. Fortescue has achieved some pretty remarkable things compared with where they were three or four years ago so he said “I don’t want to be complacent, I want us to go beyond that so I need some people who are completely different thinkers”, she says.
“So they went out and put a group of people together, Sharon Warburton met with me, it became clear that it was an ‘either’ choice for me because you can’t be a partner of a big firm and on an ASX-listed company.
“I hadn’t thought of leaving the partnership really, but then I thought well maybe this is just too good of an opportunity.
“The message from Andrew Forrest to me was he needed some completely different thinking and along the lines of ‘if you sound like other people on the board then you are of no use to me. So I need who you are, how you think and what you bring to add to the board rather than become like some of the other people; they play a role but I want some completely different thinking’.
Morris says as her mindset aligned with the culture of FMG so she took the plunge.
“It’s a massive opportunity but it is also financially a bit of a risk, I’m just going to do a few other things and see what happens.”
Morris says her career has been a series of leaps in different directions, while always striving to be at the top – there’s no doubt she’s always landed on her feet so far.
“It’s almost like I walk close to the springboard, get to the edge, jump off and then come back and start it all again.”