Applications and Selection Process

Q: What are we looking for in an Observer?

A: We are looking for talented, highly motivated, established professionals from a diversity of backgrounds, with strong credentials and most importantly with a passion for the NFP sector and a willingness to contribute. EQ is as important as intelligence and experience, as is an ability to conduct yourself appropriately and contribute to board discussions when invited to,  in keeping with the culture of your board.

Q: What can I expect from the Program if I am placed as an Observer?

A: Observers can expect:

  • High level training for not-for-profit directors delivered by AICD;
  • A year long program to build your experience and confidence in serving on a not-for-profit board;
  • Access to experienced Board directors from both the not-for-profit and corporate sectors;
  • Possible involvement in a strategic project or board subcommittee;
  • Networking opportunities with fellow and former participants in the Program. The Observership Program will connect you with the previous year’s Observer on your organisation’s board; and
  • A rewarding professional development experience that facilitates your contribution to society in a meaningful way.

Candidate Categories

Q: What is a Corporate Candidate?

A: A Corporate Candidate is an employee of one of the Program’s Corporate Partners who is nominated for the Program. For a list of Current Corporate partners please follow the link to the "Our Partners" page on this website.

Q: What is a General Stream Candidate?

A: General Stream candidates are those candidates who apply to the Program via the online application process. The Observership Program is open to everyone who meets the eligibility criteria. Applicants must be aged between 25 and 40 on the application closing date. Applicants must be resident in the state in which the Program operates and be either an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Further Information

Q: Who are the Program’s Corporate Supporters?

A: We are grateful to all our corporate partners. They are Boston Consulting Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, Facebook, Herbert Smith Freehills, McKinsey & Company, Optiver and PwC.

These organisations commit to putting their young leaders through the Program, providing high calibre candidates for selection as Observers.

The organisations also provide valuable support to the Program in other ways including the provision of venues for events and training sessions, as well as guest speakers and introductions to not-for-profit organisations.

Q: Where can I find further information about the Program?

A: The Program operates in NSW and VIC and runs on a calendar year. If you would like further information about participating in the Program please contact either:

  • Cathy Robinson for the Sydney Program:

[email protected]; or

  • Catherine Reiser for the Melbourne Program:

[email protected]

For alll general inquiries, please contact Belinda Da Silva: [email protected].

Q: Who are the Program’s Strategic Partners?

A: Our valued partners play a consistent role in supporting and promoting the Program by providing important warm introductions to good governance boards and significant support and services to the Program.

They are the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), the JCA and Philanthropy Australia.

Not For Profit Organisations

Q: Is the Board Liaison the same as a Mentor?

A: A Board Liaison is not expected to act as an official mentor. However, offering informal mentoring can add a great deal to the Observers’ experience while on the Program. We recommend that Board Liaisons touch base with Observers prior to and after board meetings in circumstances where additional context to board deliberations may be helpful.

Q: Can my organisation participate in the Program?

A: We are always expanding the reach of the Program and welcome approaches from and introductions to suitable NFPs. Please contact Belinda Da Silva ([email protected]) at The Observership Program if you are interested in participating in the Program.

Q: What are the benefits to an NFP Board in participating in the Program?

A: The Program provides a range of benefits to NFP organisations, including:

  • Injecting the next generation’s perspective into the boardroom;
  • Filling a particular skill set requirement on your board (e.g. social media, law, finance, digital, communications, marketing business planning etc.) with an emerging leader;
  • Involving your Observer in a strategic project to deliver concrete benefits to the organisation;
  • Participating in developing the next cohort of leaders in the non-for-profit and for-profit sectors;
  • Strengthening a board’s renewal strategy with no ongoing commitment to retain the Observer at the end of the 12 month program; and
  • Invitations to attend the Program launch and closing session events, with opportunities for informal networking and access to high profile guest speakers.

“This is our third year as a participating board and we continue to reap the benefits of being involved. We recognise the importance of selecting an observer with the right experience relevant to our strategy, operations and focus at that time. We involve the observers as much as we can in the organisation, encouraging contribution at each board meeting and through seeking their input in areas where their skills lie.”

David Pumphrey, Director, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife

"The Benevolent Society is delighted to be participating for the second year in the Board Observership program. Applicants to the program are high calibre and well matched to the organisation, such that it was very difficult to select from those we interviewed. The program delivers great benefit to us as an organisation in identifying candidates who offer great energy, fresh perspectives and a range of expertise to apply to specific projects and our activities generally. In return, The Benevolent Society aims to provide the board observer with a rich and engaging board experience sitting at the table with seasoned directors who have a wide range of experience and expertise and in depth learning about our sector and its challenges. In this way, we are helping to develop board directors of the future."

Lisa Chung, Chair, The Benevolent Society

" I am really impressed with the philosophy of the Observership Program to encourage young professionals to get a deep understanding of governance practices in the not for profit sector. This is an area of real need, and one where they can make a great contribution. What has surprised me though is the quality of the candidates offered to the MSO - highly motivated individuals, each with strong credentials, and importantly, in our case, a passion for music! The Observers receive a comprehensive, structured training program facilitated by the AICD, so they come to the table well prepared to broaden their understanding with practical experience. Our Observer is a young partner in a major law firm, and is already adding value. I encourage all not for profits to seriously consider participating in the program."

Michael Ullmer, Chair, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra