6 things I have learned from running for the AVA Board (twice) and not getting there yet!

July 2017

By Emma Davis

  1. Keep preparing while you wait – there are lots of resources out there to become more Board ready - sites such as Women on Boards and Australian Institute of Company Directors. Our current AVA President notably has an MBA and a lot of experience in business and strategy. I don’t have an MBA but am stretching and learning about business, entrepreneurship and Board membership at the moment and have joined a not-for-profit Board to apply that learning.
  2. The AVA are seeking government/veterinary public health policy input into the Board mix – I have been encouraged a few times that this is the case. We have a unique experience set in government – and often offer a perspective that’s more inclusive of State, National and International policy that helps inform the popular AVA member point of view of public and government opinions and opportunity for change. I was encouraged to see other Government vets in the mix the last time I was nominated – and I believe the more we get involved the better – and the greater profile our sector of the profession will get with our colleagues. If not me then someone – SOON Please!
  3. The AVA is poised and preparing for a great BIG step into the information age – as an organisation we have invested in a total re-build of the IT systems and will soon interact very differently with the veterinary cohort. Anyone in the other online veterinary groups knows the power of social media to reach many of our colleagues and AVA are preparing to our traditional organisation to take our online presence and accessibility into account. The social media ‘revolution’ – is not an easy feat for any member and professional organisation to prepare for – but AVA are on the move and it’s an exciting time to (try to) be part of AVA leadership!
  4. You have to earn your position on the Board (not that I expected you didn’t) – those that succeed are well known in our profession for their contribution or have demonstrated longstanding excellence in their field of practice, or like our current President (the youngest leader of our organisation to date) are smart and determined and have a lot to offer in terms of strategy and professional relevance. I have found this challenging in some ways as being a Government vet we are bound by the APS to not show public preference for any Government decision so it can limit how much exposure and public opinion we can put out there. However through engaging with the Policy Advisory Council (PAC) and in AVA Branches and Special Interest Groups (SIGs), I believe we can demonstrate our unique contribution.
  5. I have something worthwhile to contribute. There is nothing like having to sell yourself to firm up what you believe, make you strive to deepen your knowledge on the topic and identify and live your professional priorities. I have learned through engaging with the PAC and the SIG I am member of that my experience and training is valuable and relevant. While I am now a bit rusty on orthopaedic surgery – my understanding of the world’s disease status across borders and continents is deep and applied in terms of risk to Australia and worldwide trade.
  6. It’s not comfortable putting yourself out there – but I firmly believe it’s worth it. I don’t claim to be any better than the next vet – I am in awe of my professional colleagues. I want for the progress and improvement of our profession (mainly in terms of career satisfaction) more than I want for my own comfort and anonymity. I encourage you that if I can learn how to muster the courage to run for the Board that any smart, motivated and determined person can and should. I encourage you to put your hand up – and hopefully we will meet one day on the AVA Board!



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