The president of the Victoria Division Council discusses the importance of engagement and education when serving on a board.

    Company Director (CD): What is your background?

    David Bayes (DB): As a director, I have been fortunate to have good opportunities to serve across different industries and organisations. With many of these, I have also had the opportunity to serve and lead board committees. I have led Bakers Delight and Choice Hotels Australasia as CEO and have been the chief operating officer of Mortgage Choice. I have also had over 20 years service with McDonald’s Australia – as a senior executive, board member and then as a franchisee of three stores.

    CD: You are a director at Sigma Pharmaceuticals. What draws you to the pharmaceutical sector?

    Sigma is a pharmaceutical wholesaler, retailer and logistics company. One key aspect of Sigma’s business is retail execution through a network of independent pharmacists. Much of my management background has been in businesses where the sales are made in multiple outlets and where the support systems, processes and standards are centralised.

    In that environment, the relationship between head office and the independent operators across the country is very important and vital to success. I understand the importance of that relationship and that is one of the specific areas of knowledge and experience that I can bring to the boardroom at Sigma.

     What is the most valuable thing about your Company Directors’ membership?

    DB: There are many benefits including educational opportunities through attendance at workshops and events, as well as excellent reading material in the monthly magazine and on the website. I also enjoy meeting new and interesting people at the numerous events that exist – networking opportunities abound.

    What do you see as some of the issues for Victorian directors in 2015?

    DB: An overarching challenge remains around general economic uncertainty and business and consumer confidence.There is also the ever-growing technology influence; opportunities and sometimes threats from social media. Cyber crime and speed of change are constant challenges. Finally, the propensity for short-term market expectations versus a long-term value add strategy is always a challenge. Keeping a board and its management focused on balancing short-, medium-, and long-term goals takes real discipline.

    CD: What drives you?

     I have always been competitive and that now expresses itself as a driver to do the best I can at whatever I do. In a board environment, I try to constantly answer the self-imposed question: “How can I add value to this company/board?”

    CD: What is the most important lesson you have learned as a director?

    DB: That being a contributing director on a high-performing board is much more than a box-ticking exercise. Testing myself constantly about the value I can bring, and applying myself to that is really important. The other thing that is often underestimated is the importance of a really strong and positive corporate culture – something that directors and boards can positively influence.

    CD: How do you keep on top of relevant issues across each of your directorships?

    DB: Obviously there is lots of reading to do – that goes without saying. On top of that, I work hard to understand the business model, the strategy, the risks and the company’s capacity. I think it is really important for directors to get to know the management and the staff and see them in operation. 

    In Sigma’s case, I attend their annual pharmacists conference because it is through those pharmacists that a significant portion of our sales are achieved. I attend our suppliers annual event because distribution and supply is such an important element of what we do. Doing these things but staying out of management’s way is an important balancing exercise.

    CD: What do you do to keep on top of your professional development as a director?

    DB: I have been a Fellow of Company Directors since 2004 and I have always enjoyed and used the facilities and educational offerings as a way to stay up-to-date. I have served on the Victoria Division Council for the past five years and in that role there are increased responsibilities and expectations for attendance at many of the workshops and events run by Company Directors – they cover a real spread of topics and I always walk away with additional knowledge or an action plan for follow-up. In addition, I attend as many of the workshops and discussions offered by the professional accounting and legal firms as I can. They offer a different perspective.

    CD: What are your passions outside of work?

     My grandchildren, family, golf, Collingwood football club and spending time outside on a small rural property we have in Trentham – an hour outside Melbourne.

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