Scholar Profile - Michael Watts PDF Print E-mail
Michael Watts


Non-executive Director, Treasurer at Kalparrin

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / AICD scholarship for an eLearning Short Course, 2016

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Kalparrin makes a positive difference to the lives of families and carers of children with special needs through the provision of practical and emotional support. By building resilience, providing respite and enabling peer support Kalparrin develops stronger families and supportive communities around children with special needs; resulting in improved clinical, psychological and social outcomes.

Describe a typical day's work.

As a voluntary Non-executive Director and Treasurer I provide oversight to the financial management of Kalparrin. This involves:

  • Working closely with Kalparrin’s General Manager, Accountant and Finance Subcommittee in managing the budgeting, financial reporting, grant acquittal and financial audit processes
  • Ongoing monitoring of Kalparrin’s solvency
  • Ensuring costs remain in line with the budget and/or funding commitments
  • Setting then managing performance against fundraising, cost base and profitability targets..

What are some of the key learnings from the eLearning short course?

The course has helped improve my knowledge of governance in several ways:

  • Greater clarity of what governance is and, in simple terms, what good governance looks like. This includes understanding the various mechanisms and levers available to directors for carrying out organisational governance and ensuring the board remains effective.
  • Better understanding of the role of the board and maintaining an effective board-CEO relationship
  • Insight into board decision making, particularly that decision making on any one issue is a process, not just a one-time event, and that effective boards have iterative decision making processes.

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

The greater understanding of the decision making process has resulted in me being more proactive in socialising decisions and my views prior to the time for agreeing and committing to a direction - this enables greater depth of discussion at board meetings and ultimately better decisions.

Importantly I am able to confidently have less involvement in day-day operations. Knowing that with effective governance procedures the CEO is able to carry out their role with the necessary autonomy, with confidence from myself that any important issues will be raised with the Board through appropriate channels as necessary. This ultimately results in an organisation that is more flexible and agile in responding to the many challenges faced in the not-for-profit sector.

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

On completion of my MBA in 2013, I had a desire to use much of skills and knowledge gained through study and professional experience by volunteering my time to the not-for-profit sector, and actively sought a voluntary non-executive directorship. The opportunity to join Kalparrin’s Board of Directors opened up through contacts within my professional network.

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

There are two aspects to this. Firstly the role the government plays in the not-for-profit sector is pivotal. This goes far beyond funding, but to the frameworks and structures put in place to ensure the not-for-profit sector is able to deliver to community expectations to a greater capacity than the government can do itself. This includes government recognition of it’s own strengths and weaknesses compared to those of the NFP sector, and acting to ensure it does not compete with or impede NFP’s fulfilling the functions they are better placed to deliver.

The other element rests with NFP organisations themselves. Not-for-profit organisations need to ensure they have a clear competitive differentiation; there is no room in the funding landscape, or desire by funders, for there to be multiple organisations offering the same services to the same markets. Although some degree of competition is healthy and necessary in any market to ensure efficiency is maintained, each NFP organisation needs to be clear about what they do and who they serve – and ensure they do this profitability with minimum duplication of services provided by other organisations.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I’m fairly conventional in most ways, tending align with social norms, but that doesn’t make me any less unique or interesting than sporting legends, movie stars or those people with unusual characteristics that result in the interesting or unique labels. I’m unique simply because I’m me, I’m interesting to the people that matter to me most but perhaps not many others; and I’m totally ok with that – and that’s a characteristic that is actually pretty unique!

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"The greater understanding of the decision making process has resulted in me being more proactive in socialising decisions and my views prior to the time for agreeing and committing to a direction - this enables greater depth of discussion at board meetings and ultimately better decisions."


Michael is a strong believer in making a meaningful difference in people's lives; be it through driving social outcomes, contributing to philanthropic initiatives or simply making someone's job easier. A decision aligned with these beliefs, Michael began working as a volunteer Non-executive Director and Treasurer for Kalparrin in 2014.

In 2016, ASF awarded Michael a scholarship to complete one of AICD's eLearning Short Courses, as part of the Bankwest Foundation Community Leaders Scholarship Program.


Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:


Operating in: