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Switching gears: WOBSX graduate Claudia Bels on racing and risk management

Women on Boards - Leaders and Directors in Conversation

Release Date: 08/23/2021

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With a background in law, finance, risk management Claudia Bels doesn’t seem like your typical risk-taking rev head. 

But this rally car fan admits she loves racing around in her sports coupe as much as scrutinizing spreadsheets for her various audit committees.

The daughter of German migrants Claudia Bels was one of 12 women who took part in Women on Board’s inaugural WOBSX Syndicate. Claudia is now a NED and committee Chair across a diverse range of sectors including banking and financial services, private health and e-waste recycling. She credits taking part in the director-led peer-to-peer support program with setting her on the path to several board roles in the private sector and with member-based organisations. 

As she tells Claire in this podcast, “it opened my eyes to the fact that the shiniest prize is maybe not the prize for me”. She also describes her WOBSX cohort as a “ready-made cheer squad” - a group of women who ‘get’ what it’s like to be a NED and who are always there to support and encourage each other on their board journeys.

Claudia’s strong commercial foundation bourne of years as a corporate executive structuring and negotiating international finance deals - from writing political risk insurance for a mine in Africa to large infrastructure projects in south-east Asia - proved to be the perfect playbook for how to work in a multidisciplinary team and eventually led to various board roles.

The turning point came when she took a deep breath and accepted the role of Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. “It wasn’t a game-changer at the time, but it turned out to be,” she tells Claire.

And while heading up audit committees might be a far cry from car racing, Claudia is still driven to finding her ultimate board role - for a motoring organisation. 

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