Scholar Profile - Emma Oldfield PDF Print E-mail
Emma Oldfield


Board Member at Womens Health & Family Service

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / ICDA scholarship for a Diploma of Business (Governance), 2016

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Womens Health & Family Services is Western Australia’s largest NFP providing women’s health services to create better futures for women, their families and communities. We specialise in women’s health issues providing counselling, drug and alcohol support, domestic violence, mental health and other services.

Describe a typical day's work.

Depends which day of the week it is! I work part time in executive search and recruitment - my day job! I read emails and attend Board meetings, committee meetings and strategic planning workshops after hours at night. Overarching these two significant commitments is juggling two young children, one of whom has a habit of waking early so some of my days feel quite long.

What are some of the key learnings from the Diploma of Business (Governance)?

For me key learnings from the Diploma of Business (Governance) have included most importantly giving me an enhanced self-confidence and encouragement in my role as Board member. I have increased my breadth of knowledge around the pillars of Board governance and have a much better understanding now of areas that are my responsibility and where I can make a difference. I definitely feel more confident to keep asking questions and seeking validation before making decisions.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

Having knowledgeable, confident board members is invaluable I believe for the organisation. I have the confidence to enquire more deeply and also have better understanding of my role and responsibilities, knowing where I can add value to the organisation as a board member. I now better understand the background and purpose for various governance protocols and policy e.g. Code of Conduct and the Constitution – why they exist and why they matter.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I was approached to join the Board by a former colleague of mine, who was Treasurer. I had been considering whether I would join a Board around that time so it felt like serendipity. I previously ran Perth’s largest business women’s network and had been passionate about women’s issues for many years. I also became a mum four years ago and now have two children. The fact that Womens Health & Family Services has women and their families at its core and works to enhance health, wellbeing and futures for local families really appealed to me. I have always had a community conscience and while I do not work in the NFP sector day to day, I felt it was a unique way that I could utilise two decades of management experience and my background in marketing, brand development and HR to give back, add value and help others.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

I think one of the biggest challenges for most NFP’s is the need to secure their future in a sustainable way with less reliance on government funding. In my view this requires a more commercial approach and outlook. This cannot be driven at Board level only but rather could be achieved potentially by bringing in commercial, outside sector experience staff. Additionally, fostering workplace environments that build internal capability, creativity and adaptability of all staff will be critical. The spirit and unique way that NFP’s operate focused on their mission I hope is never lost but rather enhanced by embracing some commercial elements to build a sustainable future. Many NFP’s are already doing this very well.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am proud to be the oldest of five children (plus stepsister and half sister now too). While this isn’t the most unusual thing, it has certainly shaped the person I am today. I feel my sense of duty and commitment to helping the community is a by-product of growing up being the big sister and always “helping”. I am proud to be able to help women and their families indirectly through my efforts and commitment to the Womens Health & Family Services Board.

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"Having knowledgeable, confident board members is invaluable for the organisation. I have the confidence to enquire more deeply and a better understanding of my role and responsibilities, knowing where I can add value to the organisation."


With a professional career spanning management, human resources, recruitment and marketing roles, Emma has spent the past four years as Senior Consultant with one of WA's top executive search and recruitment firms, Briscoe Search & Consulting. During this time she also joined the Womens Health and Family Services Board bringing both a broad commercial acumen and a keen interest in supporting the not-for-profit and community services sector. 

In 2016, ASF awarded Emma a scholarship to attend the ICDA's Diploma of Business (Governance) program supported by the Bankwest Foundation, ICDA and ASF.


Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:


Operating in: