“A qualification makes the difference between a good director, and a great director” Michelle Cardwell MBA, Director, the Pillars Consultancy
Moving to Bermuda triggered a career change for Michelle Cardwell MBA and she found membership at the IoD helped her navigate the business world. Now chair of IoD Bermuda, Michelle is on a mission to promote qualified and skilled professionals to director roles. Here, she talks about the value of training and her ambitions for the Bermuda business community.
As a police officer from Vancouver, I hadn’t planned on moving to Bermuda, but when I fell in love with my husband from Bermuda, I decided to take the leap. I had hoped to continue in policing but this didn’t work out so I moved into business. In hindsight, this was the best thing that could have happened.
My time in the force meant I was used to working in an authoritarian male-dominated environment – good preparation for the corporate world – so I took charge and embraced the challenges that came my way. Through networking, I landed a job as an administrator in a Trust company which was a completely new world for me but I completed the STEP qualification which gave me the additional skills I needed and helped me level up. I later found a role in investment management where I learnt the ropes through my co-workers.
In 2015, I stumbled upon an advert for an IoD breakfast meeting discussing the upcoming economic trends within Bermuda. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about a business landscape I was unfamiliar with, so I attended and instantly decided to become a member. I threw myself into learning from fellow members and the breadth of professional development on offer which enabled me to become more competent, and confident, within my role. The people I met through the IoD paved the way for me to become the chair that I am today.
I am now the director of my own regulatory compliance company, the Pillars Consultancy Limited, where we help businesses with their compliance and regulatory requirements in Bermuda. I feel strongly that a qualification makes the difference between a good director, and a great director and I still refer back to the training I undertook in my early years at the IoD. The Certificate and Diploma in Company Direction trained me to ask different questions about specific areas within my business.
IoD Bermuda is a thriving group with women making up around half of our membership. I have found it inspiring to be surrounded by so many women who have stepped forward to be a part of our community. They bring a fresh outlook to business along side our male counterparts.
Like many smaller communities, director roles in Bermuda are sometimes passed on through friendships rather than rewarded through talent. As chair of IoD Bermuda I believe that everybody from any class, gender, race or sexuality should have the opportunity to be on a board and I am keen to promote the value of our members as skilled professionals seeking directorships. To support this, we have created a list of members seeking NED roles which can be shared across the Island with those seeking talent. My hope is that through methods such as this, our boards will become more diverse and inclusive.