But while the initial report implied that Lamb’s exit from the NRA was due to media coverage of the organisation’s supposed ties to the tobacco industry, she recently refuted that in a conversation with Inside Retail.
“I’ve been with the NRA for eight years. It’s been a long time, and I think over that period of time I’ve seen many iterations of retail, and I really believe that if you want to get the best out of an organisation, you need renewal,” Lamb said.
“I think that, following the impact of Covid-19 on the industry, there should be new ideas and new blood in the business, and given I’m quite a reasonably young executive, I want to broaden my horizons beyond association work.”
Lamb gave her notice to the NRA in June, giving a three-month notice period before her final day on Friday, 9 September. She hasn’t yet announced where she is heading next.
Questions have been raised about why the NRA chose not to publicly announce Lamb’s departure sooner, but according to Lamb, there was nothing to announce until her replacement was found or her notice period ran out – whichever came first.
“I can’t speak from the board’s perspective, but our intention was to let our membership know, and then make it known to the public later,” Lamb said.
“But, in hindsight, and given where the chips have fallen, perhaps we should have just announced that I was leaving.”
Lamb’s exit was preceded by the retirement of the NRA’s chairman Mark Brody in July, and the concurrent exit of director of marketing and events Bec Goulter, who has moved on to take up a position at Deaf Connect.
Goulter is a key figure in the questions around the NRA’s ties to the tobacco lobby, having been the one to confirm the NRA’s ties to the Australian Alliance of Convenience Stores in a post congratulating the body on the launch of its new website, which the NRA allegedly helped with.
“Difficult pill to swallow”
For Lamb, the most frustrating part of the exit has been the media narrative surrounding it – echoing past treatment of female leaders, such as Christina Holgate being bullied out of Australia Post – and the message it sends to potential future women in power.
“At the end of the day, there are very few female executives in this part of town, and I’m one who has had a considerable amount of media attention,” Lamb explained.
“I have a team who are predominantly women, and they have to watch this time and time again. We rarely get to have a voice when these things happen, because we’re often told not to comment. It’s a difficult pill to swallow sometimes.”
Still, she is optimistic about the future of female leaders.
“In my view, we work in an industry that is so full of diversity, and full of people who want to support growth and see change. And it’s all well and good for these faceless men in the comments to say things and create these stories, but in the long run I don’t think they’ll win,” she said.
“Most women I know, particularly the ones that are looking to step up in the world, are pretty strong in terms of their conviction of character.”
Lamb’s belief is that the retail space is an incredibly vibrant one that celebrates people doing creative things, and that, looking forward, it’s important to pursue positive change.
“Make sure the leaders that you back are the kind of person you want to be,” she said.
Tim Schaafsma, who took on the role of NRA chairman in July after Brodie stepped down to “make way for generational change”, said he is disappointed that Lamb hasn’t been given due credit for the work she achieved in her time at the NRA.
“On Dom’s watch the NRA has achieved significant influence with all levels of government,” Schaafsma said.
“Dominique leaves the NRA with an extremely healthy balance sheet, and with a strong, diverse and growing membership base. Her efforts have helped the NRA become the voice of modern Australian retail.”