Julie Garland McLellan
A citizen of the world, Julie was born in the England, raised in Northern Ireland and Peru, earned an MBA from one of the world's leading management schools in Madrid, worked in senior management roles including as CEO with a worldwide corporation, and now lives and works in Australia which includes serving on a number of Boards.
Her experience and perspective, as well as her training in corporate and public governance, makes her one of the most highly qualified individuals in the country to help Boards reach their full potential in adding value to the company they govern.
With a father who worked in the mining and construction industries, Julie grew up around heavy equipment and industry, and after earning a Civil Engineering degree with Honours quickly moved into Wimpey Construction (UK) running projects, doing deals, and managing people.
From a young age, Julie was a star performer. Blessed with the ability to understand how to grow and run profitable businesses, she ran the second most-profitable division at Wimpey Laboratories before moving to a senior role at Thames Water's Sewage Plant Services at a time when the business was privatising. Julie developed key insights into the running of the business which included closing down the organisation's construction business and focussing on maintenance.
"Thames Water became excellent at maintaining sewage systems. People that own an asset will pay anything to not deal with the vital but messy business of sewage. By building strong working relationships with trucking subcontractors, Thames Water came to dominate the market. Running a sewage business was fun, it was huge fun," says Julie.
Throughout Julie's career, she demonstrated the capability of turning organisations around.
In working with England's largest privately-owned building company, Julie wrote their first strategic plan and helped the business survive a looming recession.
In Spain, she assisted an international firm Tillyard to successfully exit from the Spanish market without damaging its brand internationally. Remarkably, while she was completing an MBA at Instituto de Empresa in the Spanish capital, Julie was negotiating construction projects and then taking those projects to competitors with staff attached. This was a complex exercise as it involved wooing suspicious companies and at the same time negotiating the move with staff by being transparent about the company's financial state.
It was during this time that she met her Australian husband and, soon after, they moved to Melbourne, where she worked with BHP. Working as a Strategic Planner, Julie was at one stage the most senior woman in the company when she was responsible for the strategic planning for all BHP's operations in Latin America. While being involved in energy and mining deals on a massive scale, one of her most memorable moments was when she met the President of Venezuala who mistook her for Judy Garland, and while surprised the dead actress could speak fluent Spanish was delighted to see her looking so well!
After leaving BHP in 2001, Julie took up a series of senior strategic roles across the next five years that included a General Manager position at KPMG and being CEO of Gamesa Energy Australia, a Spanish-based company and the largest developer of wind farms in the world.
Julie started her Board career while at BHP, completing a Company Director diploma and finding her first Board position with the Melbourne University Engineering Foundation. Since that time, she has been a member of a number of Boards including the Victorian Chamber of Mines, Melbourne Water, City West Water, and VENCorp, the state-owned body that manages Victoria's energy markets and transmission lines.
"The government decided they wanted to appoint someone from the VicWomen Database to the Board. It was a fantastic experience there due to the establishment of contestable markets. We developed a business model where VENCorp doesn't own the asset, but can see what's required for each project and brings in the infrastructure to support it. Many of these projects were public-private partnerships (although that phrase hadn't yet been used) and the concept worked very well," she says.
Julie has now emerged as an intriguing and effective governance consultant whose reputation has grown both through her work with Boards as well as her work with the AICD. Her broad international working experience and her detailed understanding of how vital truly great governance is to the success of a company or organisation, provides Board members with a tremendous advantage in making their Board experience a successful one. For Julie, the ability to make a positive impact on the effectiveness of various Boards achieves her objective of contributing to the appreciation, relevance and importance of great governance in the public and private sectors.
"My perspective was influenced by growing up with a family that moved a lot, and developing a strong sense of self in these different environments. This independent streak has been an asset to my corporate and consulting career because I can always maintain a sense of perspective when disaster appears to be looming; there are always opportunities and if you take a fresh look you'll see them" says Julie.
"The other element that has always been important to me is always having a life outside work: That my job's important but it's not the only thing I do. For instance, I've been practicing martial arts for 31 years. I've always enjoyed the challenge of martial arts to be the best I can be; to not take the easiest path but choose the right path, even if it's hard. That's a trait that I like to see Boards adopt also."