TEAM MEMBER STORIES – DEB MILLER
Deb Miller’s role with Active Tree Services sees her consider the business from a big-picture perspective, with one eye on the rear-view mirror and the other firmly focused on the future.
As a non-executive board member for the company, her position involves providing the business with an independent perspective, based on previous business and corporate experience.
“The board role is strategic,” Deb explains. “We’re not caught in the detail but look at the business from the outside in, learning from the past, exploring future opportunities, understanding the changing business landscape while ensuring we achieve the company’s vision.
“CEO Karl Cope runs the business day-to-day, the Board ensures the business is on track with the strategic plan that looks three to five years in the future.”
“Active is an incredibly successful family story and that sparked my interest to get involved. From tiny beginnings, Active has developed into a major player in the industry.”
Deb is one of three board members, including Willcocks’ family representative Richard Willcocks and non-executive chair Richard Nedov.
Deb is a fellow at the Institute of Company Directors and assists the Board to ensure Active operates as a good corporate citizen.
“By nature, Active operates within a high-risk environment so we also look at governance around risk to ensure safety is paramount.”
The Active board meets every second month in a different office. This affords them an opportunity to visit employees and sub-contractors in the field to gain insight and understanding of current business operations, the staff, customers, and all stakeholders.
“In between Board meetings, we spend time looking at what the industry is doing and how that might be changing, and what future opportunities are available.”
Deb has been on the Active board for two years, since the business moved to a more formalised company structure in 2018.
She has a wealth of experience in both the business and corporate realms, including other board roles.
“Active is an incredibly successful family story and that sparked my interest to get involved. From tiny beginnings, Active has developed into a major player in the industry,” she says.
As a former business owner herself, Deb could also appreciate the challenges that came with shifting the company away from a family-run operation.
“I have had experience in family businesses, so I understand the dynamic, how that works, and the general change required,” she says.
“I was impressed with Mark Willcocks’ strong passion for the people who work for him, he wanted to ensure moving forward this passion was protected – it’s a privilege to be given that trust.”
Deb’s experience includes formal qualifications as an accountant, and she holds an MBA from Adelaide University.
Previously a partner in an accounting firm, she has held executive positions in the fields of technology, and sales and marketing. Her other independent director roles include retail, technology, and health. They also include a stint on the board of the Adelaide Crows where she served as the first female board member.
“I have broad experience in various businesses but have always been interested in the environment. A position on the Active Board provided an opportunity to use these skills and learn more about the industry,” Deb says.
Meanwhile, her vision for the company’s future is clear.
“I’d like to see Active achieving its financial goals and sustainability while maintaining a great workforce of employees and sub-contractors and expanding into more areas related to the environment.”
Other than work, Deb maintains a busy life where fitness is key. She has run two marathons, is a keen golfer, loves skiing (both snow and water) and volunteers at Lifeline as a crisis worker. She lives by the mantra of Wayne Benett’s famous book title “Don’t Die with the music in you!”