ExxonMobil executive Richard Ellis is heading back to school.
The former Hale School student will be joining the likes of Richard Goyder, Penny Flett and Chris Sutherland in spending another year overseeing the governance and future strategy of some of Perth's most prestigious schools.
Mr Ellis, who graduated in 1979 alongside the late Adam Rankine-Wilson and Andrew Forrest, is one of 11 Hale governors. Chaired by fellow old boy, Talbot Olivier principal Mark Hemery, the governors meet almost monthly.
As with the boards and councils of Perth's top private boys and girls schools, the Hale postings are voluntary and unpaid. There is no discount on tuition fees for those with children at the school.
For ex-students or parents, being on the board is an opportunity to put something back. It also looks good on CVs and further extends the already powerful private schools network permeating Perth's business community.
"I enjoyed my time at school and am happy to put something back," Mr Ellis, who was once Colin Barnett's education adviser, said.
Most the school boards have about a dozen members, drawn from their alumni, parent body and religious orders. Academics are well represented on councils. As with company boards, the core duties include corporate governance, long-term strategy and the appointments of headmasters.
Seven Group executive director Jim Walker has been on Wesley College council for about eight years. His son attended Wesley. "It's about strategy, what the school is going to look like in the future," Mr Walker said. "I also chair the building committee, so making sure you keep up the buildings."
Poseidon Nickel managing director David Singleton is the deputy chairman of MLC's council. His daughters attended the school.
"Having sat on company boards for many years I really enjoy the different outlooks of the people on the council," he said. "I have benefitted from working with people who come at issues quite often from a very different perspective to me but who have the same goal of supporting the college leadership team while challenging the institution to evolve and develop."
Deidre Willmott, a former St Hilda's student, was on her schools' council until her family moved to Melbourne. Upon her return in 2006 she rejoined the St Hilda's board then chaired by Liz Constable. "I don't think people go on to the board with a view to seeing it as a stepping stone for other boards," Ms Willmott said."These are people who are happy to participate."
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