Candid conversations with directors on the interests and insights that have shaped their careers. 

    Favourite career lesson?

    The more mistakes you make, the more lessons you learn, but the things that have stuck with me over the years is that good leaders define the reality of their situation, no matter what it is. Secondly, you’ve got to listen and respond to the voice of your customers — you can’t force-feed something to the customer base if it’s something they don’t want. The next lesson is that culture is the glue that holds organisations together. But it’s not what’s written on a piece of paper, it’s what actually happens and it’s how the organisation interacts inside and out. Finally, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have even more emotional intelligence. A lot of people are threatened by those who are smarter than them, but I’m quite proud that a lot of the people who have worked for me over the years have gone on to bigger and better things. That’s something a leader should seek to leave as part of their legacy.

    Favourite career risks that paid off?

    I had an innate desire to test myself and was always keen to take myself outside my comfort zone, whether that was a different function or a different geography. I joined Exxon straight out of university and spent 18 years with them in 14 different jobs in Australia and the US. Then I spent another 17 years with PepsiCo and Yum! Brands in a variety of geographies around the world. The thing about US corporations, not necessarily with UK or Australian-based organisations, is they tend to promote cross-functionally, so they develop strong general managers and well-rounded leaders. I was always keen to see what I could and couldn’t do. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of businesses that might be underperforming. Sometimes I’ve been able to add value, sometimes I haven’t. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be a lifelong learner. You’ve got to have an avid sense of inquisitiveness.

    Favourite leadership attribute?

    Successful leaders need a number of key attributes. They’ve got to be able to reimagine an even better future for their business. They have to be able to attract, retain and develop great people while taking them on that journey to a better future. Whatever strategy you employ is only as good as how well it’s executed. You need to ensure there’s enough process and discipline around the things that matter to achieve the vision.

    Favourite method to unwind?

    I’ve come to love classical music — Strauss, Dvořák, Beethoven — and we are members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. We also have eight grandkids, aged from three to 13, who I FaceTime regularly. They keep you grounded in reality and give you a bit of fun. I’m not as physically active as I used to be, but I love getting outside for a walk or to work in the garden. We’re lucky enough to live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, so we walk on Newport Beach from time to time.

    Favourite DIY project?

    I don’t have one on the go at the moment, but the most satisfying DIY project was when we built our first house. My wife and I have lived in about 23 houses in eight cities across four countries, but the first house we built ourselves was in the late 1970s. I did most of the landscaping — both the layout and the physical work, which was not easy. I had to get my brother, father and father-in-law to help out.

    Favourite travel spot?

    I’ve been lucky enough to visit just about every part of the world — Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America — and we lived in the US for a long time. I loved living in London and in Hong Kong because you can get to other places fairly easily. Most recently, we went to Austria and the Czech Republic. We planned to go to Portugal and Spain in 2020, but that was cancelled because of COVID. We’re planning to make that trip later this year.

    Latest news

    This is of of your complimentary pieces of content

    This is exclusive content.

    You have reached your limit for guest contents. The content you are trying to access is exclusive for AICD members. Please become a member for unlimited access.