2017 Candidate Q and A

Continuing the discussion from 2017 EFC AGM It started with a leak:

For clarity, and as an invitation to all candidates to come and talk with us.

Thanks for opening the thread Darli.

As always, I’m around and happy to answer any questions anyone may have. Just @ me, but I’ll also check in throughout the day.


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Does this mean I have to lurk less and post more?

Likewise always around and more than happy to chat and answer questions. Was wondering if we were going to do candidates threads this year, though I reckon we’ve had a pretty solid Q&A going for the past few years anyway!


Simon Lethlean, discuss?

… You know, or not.

Fwiw, your involvement in this forum has been a credit to you and the club. Long may it continue. Ditto @Paul_Cousins


Hey Ivan.

I don’t have an opinion on the matter as I don’t know the man, and what I do know I have only heard in the media. I also know that his skill set is pretty impressive. I would hate to make any judgement based on rumour, media reports and innuendo.

I also believe that strength in character comes from how you learn from mistakes that you have made in the past. Any person who is willing to stand up, take responsibility and then become a better person because of that adversity is probably not deserving of being ostracized.

The clubs recruitment process is incredibly well thought out and thorough, and I’m sure that whomever ends up at the top of the pile, they will be the absolute best person for the job.

The GM of Football role oversees the entire football department and demands both empathy and ruthlessness. If we are to continue to drive elite standards and push for our 17th premiership we must ensure that we have elite talent in all areas of our football club, and not many roles are more important than overseeing the football department.

Thanks - I have become unashamedly addicted to reading Blitz. It’s a problem I share with many others.


Really appreciate that thanks Ivan.

I’ll preface this by saying I really don’t know how seriously he’s being viewed in the process, Xavier no doubt has very strong ideas on what he wants in a candidate for that role and will follow a really stringent process in making an appointment, as he always does. I also know there was a massive amount of interest in the role and a lot of applications.

That said the Lethlean one is one of those hot button topics and I understand why, but it’s difficult to really discuss it without further information. I know that publicly the story was that he left due to having an extra marital affair within his organization, but publicly we really don’t have any more information than that. I also have some experience in not necessarily believing all the innuendo and so on that gets out in the footy fishbowl.
I’m sure he wouldn’t be the only person at a footy club to have made a mistake, but if he was a serious candidate obviously there’d be much more background done on it with all the pertinent questions being asked around how he handled the situation specific to his employer. Rest assured everyone who is fortunate enough to land a job at our club in recent times has had to go through an extremely thorough process to do so, particularly in such a key position.
I will say though I’m not one for writing people off without having all the facts at hand.
This is a key role at our club, whoever is fortunate enough to get it will be very worthy of it of that I’m certain.


In regard to Lethlean, it is his relationship with McLachlan that is of concern and how the club could address that potential conflict of interest.
For so long as McLachlan remains in a position of power in the AFL that may not be in the club’s best interests, notwithstanding the professional skils that Lethlean might bring.
There is also the problem of perception, Gill advocating that Lethlean could take a position with a club and being rejected by two other clubs; AFL thuggery in blackballing the likes of Hird and Corcoran.


Again I’m sure any conflict would be strongly considered if he were a serious candidate bigallan. I think it’s important to note here that Xavier simply said when asked that he’d be happy to have a chat with him as part of a far broader process. Also the jobs he was reportedly considered for at other clubs were CEO jobs, clearly this whilst a key role at the club isn’t on the level of CEO. We’re extremely happy with the work Xavier continues to do in that role with the support of the board.


I can’t add any more to this. Xavier and his team, in particular Lisa Lawry who heads up HR have done a stellar job in ensuring that all Essendon employees are the people we want at our club. I’m sure whomever they decide is right for the role will be vetted appropriately.


Paul and Catherine: Thanks for your responses.The concerns relate to any position at the club.
I don’t have a problem with X’s response to the media. The media have their own agenda.


When do we get our info on voting? I haven’t got anything yet.

NB got my membership pack a couple of days ago.

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You should receive it in the mail either today or in the coming few days Dell, I’m sure the club will also put out correspondence online in the coming few days so that everyone’s across it. Voting opens Monday!

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Thanks Paul. You just earned my vote.

EDIT: But in all seriousness best of luck to both you and KL!


Wait, that wasn’t serious???

Cheers :wink:

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Paul and Catherine,

You were obviously elected a few years back, basically on the grounds of strong support on Twitter (primarily) and also on here.

I do think that board members being accountable and accessible to members is a good thing, and I commend you both for that.

However, as you know, engagement with stakeholders is actually quite a small part of being on a board. The club employs staff to perform the role of engaging with members etc. The Board’s role, as you both know, is to provide high level expertise and strategic direction to the executive of the Club.

I’m not clear what expertise either of you provide, or propose to provide, going forward. From my read of your CVs the last time around (from memory) you both seemed to me to be a lot less qualified (in terms of your previous professional / board / governance experience) to be on a Board than some of the other candidates, many of whom had significant experience either on other boards, in business or similar, or in the football industry.

Do either of you have any comment on this?

This is not a hatchet job, I am genuinely considering which way I’ll vote and I’d like to be convinced.



Thank you for the completely relevant question.

My day job is a senior leadership role within Sensis, responsible for the innovation and operations of the White Pages digital platforms and apps. My background is digital product management and communications, particularly digital media. I continue to help the marketing and communications team with emerging technologies that may improve reach and engagement with members and supporters to this day. (No joke, I sent an email yesterday regarding some interesting emerging technology)

It is no doubt that when I came to the board 3 years ago I was fresh and green. I grabbed the opportunity to learn and skill up with as much rigor as I could and spent my first year listening, learning and asking questions - how does the club operate? What are the pain points in the operation processes? Why is the company structure as it is? Where are the gaps and areas that I can drive and challenge? etc.

In my second year on the board I moved closer to the community and indigenous areas of the football club. I felt that these areas, while still identified as very important to the culture and make up of our club, had maybe not had as much focus as some of the other areas had received.

I nominated and was chosen to be the first director to sit on the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee where I have driven accountability and pushed for stretch targets on what our club will deliver in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. I also paid my way to join the club on the bi-annual NT community camp last year where I got to witness first hand the work that we do in Tiwi and Maningrida.

After the hiring of our GM of Community, Academies and Womens Football I have continued to push for equality in all areas of the club, particularly around our AFLW proposal and then VFLW licence bid with a focus on the girls coming through - and local community - in the north west corridor of Victoria and our NGA areas.

This year I applied and was accepted into the Australian Institute of Company Directors as an affiliate member, with plans to complete my Company Directors Course early next year.

Being the youngest member on the board and also the only woman on the board I bring a different opinion to the table. I look at things from a different perspective and I generally - though not unique - think about ideas or opportunities that are presented from a more grass roots member, brand and community related lens.

After 3 years sitting on the EFC board I feel extremely confident that I have the necessary experience and skills needed to continue to drive the direction and culture of our club into the future, and will never stop pushing myself to learn, challenge and question the direction and strategy of the club.

Edit: a link that may be useful for those who like to do research or are interested in the mentioned Reconciliation Action Plan.

https://www.reconciliation.org.au/about/ - Reconcilation Australia, who approve RAPs for organisations. They currently have our proposed RAP for approval.

ANOTHER EDIT: Thanks to Paul’s thorough response, I realised I should probably mention that besides from being on the RAP Committee, I , alongside Ken Lay and Andrew Muir, sit on the Nominations Committee responsible for identifying future directors of our club for appointed positions, as well as the Remuneration Committee with Ken Lay, Andrew Muir and Paul Brasher, responsible for auditing and approving large salaries based on the strategy the board has set out for our club.


Thanks Catherine for the considered response, much appreciated.


It’s a very fair question @SMJ, and to be honest I haven’t really had the chance to talk about my background in this election given I’ve largely been asked about the performance of the board as a group.
My background is probably a bit different to many who reside on club boards in that I’ve been in small business for the past 15 years or so. I studied Computer Science many moons ago and spent some time as an IT Manager and in business development with an accounting and financial services firm prior to starting my web design and development business. I also spent time in hospitality and ended up as a manager of a very successful venue for a period before getting back to my area of study, though that experience did give me a good grounding in building relationships and people management.
In my business life I’m a touch less hands on ‘the tools’ than I used to be but deal daily with a diverse client base, I work with all manor of businesses ranging from small to large and everything in between, have serviced government contracts and even created content for the odd racing car driver. I greatly enjoy the variety small business has afforded me and am proud to have built a thriving small business from nothing.
I like to constantly challenge myself and in that vain am currently midway through studying an MBA, I must admit I’ve found going back to study at a later point in life very rewarding. That said I’ve just turned 40 this year so obviously my resume and background likely isn’t quite as stuffed as some directors who get into the gig a fair bit later in life. I do strongly believe however that a representative board should also have diversity in age, and believe both Katie and myself have added an important element of (relative) youth to our board over the past 3 years which has unquestionably had an influence in board discussion.

So my expertise from a professional standpoint is really in the new media/internet field spanning into social media with a marketing background, though obviously having run a small business for a very long time I’ve had to be strong on the financials and the like as well. I recently sat in on the final round of interviews to deliberate on the appointment of our new head of IT at the club as it fell into my wheelhouse to give you an example of where we might be able to lend some expertise.
From a personal point of view I’ve been around footy most of my life, I played at a relatively high level (though it was made abundantly clear to me that I was entirely too slow to make it to AFL level, not at all surprisingly ha ha), I have a strong understanding of the game both philosophically and tactically which is of benefit to me in helping keep our connection to the Football Department.
In my role as a Director for our club I’ve also served as VFL President for the past 3 years where I’ve been able to see and measure our development program both from a playing and coaching/administrating point of view close up and have formed strong relationships there.
Early my tenure I was approached by our Vice Chairman and the Chairman of our Audit Risk and Integrity Committee Paul Brasher to join that committee along with initially Lindsay Tanner and more recently Ken Lay. That Committee forms a key pillar in the greatly strengthened governance and oversight measures our club has implemented over the past few years, it’s my privilege to serve on it in such a key space and help identify and mitigate any threats our club may face now and into the future.
The past 3 years have also provided a fantastic learning experience and one I’ve embraced wholeheartedly, as mentioned I’m now furthering my studies both with an MBA and with a view to study further on Director specific courses to compliment the learning I’ve already had. I’m a strong believer in constantly furthering myself wherever possible. Those who know me will tell you I’m a sponge and ask a lot of questions, our board works terrifically well as a group and I certainly haven’t been shy in offering my views.

Hope that offers an insight?


Thanks also Paul for taking the time to respond. Much appreciated.



Iced, cinnamon or jam donuts?

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