Friday was a day of firsts for Jacquie Hey: her first board meeting at Cricket Australia, as their first female director. It may have taken 107 years, but CA has finally put a woman on its board.
I was lucky enough to speak with Jacquie Hey following that first board meeting on Friday. With a sigh of weary elation, she told me what a joy her “initiation” had been.
“I was welcomed with open arms. I was very conscious of being the only woman, but to me that’s only an additional excitement. I know how other women feel about my appointment to this board, and I have an extra responsibility to represent them. But I felt really lucky today, because walking in there I knew I was being judged on merit.”
Hey has spent the past two decades building a career in technology and banking and has an impressive range of skills to bring to CA.
“I have a very strong corporate background. I know how media works. I know how boards operate. I’ve worked in banking and technology, across traditional and digital media. I’ve also watched test cricket my whole life, so this is a natural role for me.”
Hey was chief executive of Ericsson in Australia and New Zealand, and sits on the board of SBS. She’s an independent director at Adelaide and Bendigo Bank.
And she’s passionate about getting more women involved in cricket – either as spectators or participants.
“When people watch sport, they like to see themselves in the game. They like to know their interests are there. Part of the strategy in having me here, is that I know how mothers think. I want women to see themselves in the game. There are so many female fans of cricket, so I’m here for them. Not to mention we have the Southern Stars, our women’s cricket team, who are world champions.”
Hey is one of three freshly appointed independent members of the CA board, alongside Rio Tinto’s David Peever and former NSW cricketer and retail boss Kevin Roberts. It’s a trio that signals a significant overhaul in the way Aussie cricket is run. Traditionally, the board has been comprised of members from each state, selected for their cricketing prowess. Hey, Peever and Roberts have been chosen primarily for their business acumen (though obviously Roberts knows how to bowl and Hey does have a trophy in pride of place in her office from a 1988 local competition).
At Thursday’s annual general meeting, CA announced a record operating result of $45.6 million. So appointing businessmen – and significantly, a successful businesswoman – is the most pragmatic thing CA has done in some time. Die-hard cricket fans despair that their beloved sport is being run by Men (and a woman) In Suits, but cricket is a business, and needs to be run accordingly.