PledgeMe’s board chair Melanie Templeton is leaving her role with us and leaning into some new adventures. She’s been contributing her expertise to the PledgeMe whānau for six years, including as interim CEO. We asked her why she chose PledgeMe in the first place, how the journey has been and what’s next?
Mel was at a female leadership programme in 2015 when she first came across PledgeMe founder Anna Guenther.
She was struck by the young, smart, purpose driven entrepreneur.
“How incredible it was she was taking on the establishment and ‘democratising capital.’”
At the time Mel was looking for new things to get involved in, where she could bring her 20 plus years experience to support “all things NZ.inc,” and was transitioning from the corporate space to a governance career.
In 2016 Mel noticed Anna tweeting about looking for a Director. She applied and was picked, along with Jessica Venning-Bryan.
“Around the same time I got onto the Inland Revenue Risk and Assurance Committee – now there was a contrast!”
Mel served as interim CEO for PledgeMe from early 2019 to early 2020 at a time when Anna was in Australia growing the business from scratch.
“We had a very talented and capable team in New Zealand, mostly Wellington, and the business was growing at a very fast pace. PledgeMe needed repeatable systems and structures that didn’t rely on Anna to deliver them and I helped bring that focus to the team.”
She said navigating between both the CEO and chair roles was “very difficult,” and “avoiding insight bias around the board table was tricky,” but she had excellent guidance from her co-directors Breccan MacLeod-Lundy, Rachel Hopkins and Steve York.
“It certainly propelled my appreciation of the role of good governance.”
Highlights of being the chair of the board have been “working with amazingly talented and purpose driven people, and seeing some great entrepreneurs get funded.”
She also enjoyed supporting Anna to launch PledgeMe in Australia, and helping Anna grow out of her founder/CEO role and into pure governance, which involved employing “our amazing CEO Dr Claire McGowan.”
Shortly after that came working as a team “to see us through two years of Covid disrupted business and to still be here to hand over the reins to the extraordinary Terry Shubkin.”
Leaving PledgeMe frees Mel up to seek a new board role, a challenge she’s looking forward to.
She says Aotearoa New Zealand has some significant challenges ahead socially, environmentally, and economically, making the next period of time crucial for governance to take its place in helping shape a better future for us all.
“I am grateful and delighted to be able to work at this level and be a part of this challenge ahead. PledgeMe will always be in my heart and I will continue to follow the further success I know is still to come.”
By Charlotte Squire