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In Episode 53, “The Battle for the Soul of America”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Stephen Loosley AM, who served as Senator for New South Wales in the Australian Parliament during the Hawke and Keating Governments, where he chaired both the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and the Senate Regulations Committee. He is now the Deputy Chair of Thales Australia and a Director of O’Connell Street Associates. He has served as Chair of the Woomera Prohibited Area Advisory Board and is the immediate past Chair of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, where he is now a Senior Fellow.

In today’s discussion, Stephen will help us navigate the upcoming US election, in what many argue will possibly be the most divisive of campaigns and one of the most important elections in our lifetime. He takes us through the state of play, the candidates and their respective parties, their platforms and policies and where it will be won and lost.

Looking forward, there will be a second part to the conversation after the election, to review the key moments, where it was ultimately won, what the future of America will look like and what this means to Australia and the world.

Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Stephen Loosley in this podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the organisations he is involved with

 

 

In Episode 52, “Selfish Happiness”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to 2011 Australian of the Year, Simon McKeon AO. Simon is currently Chancellor of Monash University and Non-Executive Director of National Australia Bank Ltd and Rio Tinto Group. He previously served as Chairman of AMP Ltd and CSIRO and was Founding President of the Federal Government’s Australian Takeovers Panel. Simon has had a long and passionate involvement with non-profit organisations, including serving as Chairman of MS Research Australia, Independent Schools Victoria, In2Science, Summer Housing, South East Melbourne and the Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative.

In a candid conversation, Greg and Simon discuss the fast-forwarding of change brought about by COVID-19, from the banking sector to education and how young people can adapt and thrive in the new era. An avid sportsman, Simon translates lessons from the fast-paced arena of sailing, where he held the outright world sailing speed record for many years, to the Boardroom, in embracing innovation and the power of diversity. Finally, Simon brings to the fore why selfishness and philanthropy go hand in hand and he shines a light on the champions of the non-profit sector, whose passion and devotion in making a positive difference to people’s lives make them our unsung heroes.

 

In Episode 51, “That’s the Game!”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Marcus Blackmore AM, former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman and currently Executive Director of Blackmores Ltd. Under his leadership, Blackmores has grown from a small range of natural remedies to become the number one natural health company in Australia. The Blackmores Group is now home to seven brands sold in 17 markets and recognised across the Asia Pacific region as the most trusted in natural health.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Marcus is also an honorary trustee of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, an Honorary Fellow of the Heart Research Institute and an honorary Chief in Samoa.

In an engaging discussion, Marcus shares with us his experiences that have influenced him and led to his success. From his time in the army in Vietnam, the big decisions which ultimately shaped Blackmores, to the challenges corporate Australia face, he does not hold anything back. Finally, Marcus talks about his passion for life and people, the spirit of entrepreneurship and how to win a customer for life.

 

In Episode 50, “Perfect or Possible”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to The Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Member for Hunter, Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources and member of the Australian Labor Party. After being elected in 1996, Joel has represented his electorate for the last 24 years. He was previously Minister for Defence and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. He has also served as Chief Government Whip and Chaired the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence & Trade.

The son of former Member of Parliament Eric Fitzgibbon, Joel shares with us his upbringing and how the principle of equality of opportunity was instilled in him and continues to drive him to this very day. He gives us a unique look into the life of a politician, from its rigorous demands to the satisfaction derived in serving the people that put their faith in him. He also talks about the current state of the Labor party; its leadership, the challenges in finding the right balance and how they can once again form Government, with Joel having spent 18 of his 24 years in Parliament in the opposition.

In a fast-paced discussion, Joel offers his frank views on the important issues we face as a nation, from climate, energy and industry debates, the pragmatism and possible compromise required in transitioning to renewable energy and the reality facing his constituents in the broader conversation about Australia’s relationship with China. He also calls on the business community to step up and demand from the Government the policy reforms needed for Australia to succeed . Lastly, Joel reminds us that in our capacity to drive change, we should never let the perfect get in the way of the possible.

 

In Episode 49, “The Big Challenge”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Dr Martin Parkinson AC, the Chancellor of Macquarie University. Martin served in the Commonwealth Government for almost 40 years, most recently as the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2016 to 2019 and Secretary of the Australian Treasury from 2011 to 2014. He was also Secretary of Australia’s inaugural Department of Climate Change between 2007 and 2011.

Martin is currently a Non-Executive Director of Worley Ltd, North Queensland Airports and Male Champions of Change, and is a member of the Northern Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission. He previously served on the Boards of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Orica Ltd and the German Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and was Chair of the Australian Office of Financial Management.

In this insightful conversation, Martin shares with us his views on a myriad of topics, from the inner workings of Government, the difficult task of bringing everyone together on climate policy, the impact of the pandemic on our third largest export, education, and the current dynamics in play in foreign policy. Martin and Greg address the big issues – what do we want as a society, what is important, where we are headed and the big challenge ahead.

 

In Episode 48, “Innovation Is Just Hard Work”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Sam Riggall, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd, an Australian and Canadian listed technology company focused on the development of resources to service new energy and materials markets. He previously held senior global roles with Rio Tinto Group and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd, where he led a successful negotiation with the Mongolian Parliament of a 50-year investment agreement for the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine.

In a very thought-provoking episode, Sam challenges us to consider where we are as a society, highlighting that the world is at a tipping point, especially with the technological advances that await us. As the leader of a technology company that could help revolutionise renewable energy and the automotive and aerospace industries, Sam also recognises the organisation’s potential in providing safe drinking water and basic sanitation to almost a quarter of the world’s population.

Sam takes us on a journey that covers the chemistry in mining, social issues in the Congo, the chessboard on which geopolitical power brokers manoeuvre in, the hope of the entrepreneur and the realisation that Elvis lives on in Rural Australia. Finally, he sheds light on the meaning behind how the rule book is being rewritten and those who succeed will be ones who adapt fastest.

 

In Episode 47, “The Wake Up Call”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Kate Carnell AO, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. She previously held the position of Chief Executive Officer for The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents more than 300,000 businesses across Australia, Beyond Blue, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the Australian General Practice Network and the National Association of Forest Industries. Kate was also the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory from 1995 to 2000.

“A pharmacist by profession, Kate ran her own small businesses for fifteen years, and went on to become the first female to become the National Vice-President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. In 2006, Kate was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her services to the community through contributions to economic development and support for the business sector, knowledge industries, the medical sector and medical technology advances.”

“In a powerful conversation, Kate brings to light the reality small businesses have to face as they try to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the constant ambiguity and the confronting issues, from hidden unemployment, mental health, to battles with landlords, we discuss how the time has arrived for us to wake up and seize the opportunity, as a nation, to cut the red tape and come together, embody the spirit of the entrepreneur and support the bedrock of the Australian and global economy.”

“Please note the podcast was recorded on 25th June 2020″

 

In Episode 46, “The Show Must Go On”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Sophie Galaise, Managing Director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO). She is also on the Board of Symphony Services International, a member of the Advisory Council of the Harvard Business Review, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the CEO Institute in Australia.

Starting her career as a principal flautist in Germany at the age of 17, Sophie went on to become the Artistic Director of the Orford Arts Centre in Canada, Executive Director of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Sophie was named as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2015 and 2019.

Sophie shares with us how the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is working to break the mould and create a new DNA. By expanding their engagement with the community, they have transcended from being a traditional orchestra to capturing new audiences and winning hearts, through partnerships with sport and film, and crossovers with the likes of Elton John.

“Finally, Sophie talks about the performing arts industry, arguably one of the most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for radical change to ensure its survival. She brings to light how the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has adapted, by being inventive, embracing technology and preparing for a different future, to broaden their reach to over five continents and keep the music playing.”

 

In Episode 45, “Desire to Deliver”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Marnie Baker, Managing Director of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. She has been with the organisation since 1989, an Executive since 2000 and was appointed Managing Director in 2018. Marnie provides us with an insight into her baptism of fire, being at the helm during some of the most challenging times in the industry and the country.

Marnie and Greg discuss the big picture of the Australian banking industry, the transition into a cashless society and the importance of a level playing field to ultimately provide customers with access to more competitive products. They delve into digitisation and the advances in technology made through partnerships; Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has always been at the forefront of innovation. In its 162-year history, it was the first to bring to market some of the services we use every day.

Furthermore, Marnie talks about leadership in a time of crisis, from the importance of effective communication to the improved speed of decision making. She talks about the opportunity surrounding infrastructure investment in regional Australia and how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the weakness of having the majority of the population living in metropolitan areas. Lastly, Marnie talks about the desire to deliver on a purpose and changing the way people think about banking.

 

In Episode 44, “Focus on What’s Important”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Sam Weiss, Non-Executive Chairman of Altium Ltd and 3P Learning Ltd. Elected as Chairman of Altium Ltd in 2007, Sam has been instrumental in the expansion and outstanding growth of the company, currently with a share price of about 33 times as it was when Sam’s tenure commenced.

Sam shares with us his journey across various industries from the United States to Australia, which included a fascinating period in Europe with the sporting giant Nike. He vividly recalls his encounters with legendary athletes, such as Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, Cathy Freeman and the Brazilian footballer Ronaldo.

In a very insightful conversation, Sam and Greg talk about the technology industry, including trends on the global stage and what can be done in Australia to transform it from a society that predominantly consumes tech products into an environment conducive to developing and producing technology. Sam draws on his experiences, particularly with Altium, and imparts his knowledge and wisdom to current and aspiring Directors on how they can achieve the goal of generating value for shareholders.

 

In Episode 43, “Down the Line”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Ian Pollard, Chairman of RGA Reinsurance Company of Australia and Director of Milton Corporation Ltd and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. He was also the Chairman of Billabong International and Managing Director of Development Finance Corporation. Ian coaches CEO’s and Senior Executives and authored numerous books on corporate finance, self-help and human capital.

In these challenging times, Ian shares lessons on how to cope with pressure, highlighting his experience at Billabong International, where the Board had to meet around a hundred times in a period of one year. He provides valuable insight and words of wisdom to new and aspiring Directors to enable them to leave a mark on the company.

Ian talks us through his fascinating youth as a Rhodes Scholar, Captain of the Australian Junior Davis Cup team where he faced an up-and-coming Bjorn Borg and being appointed Chair of a company at 25 years of age. An actuary by background, Ian’s early career was in investment banking. He also founded the investment company Development Capital of Australia and is a pioneer of Australian corporate finance.

 

In Episode 42, “Picking Up Sticks”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Mick McCormack, former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of APA Group. Under Mick’s fourteen-year leadership, APA Group grew from 30 employees and assets worth $1.3bn to 3,000 employees and assets of $24bn and delivered a compound rate of return to shareholders of over 17% per year.

The big vision coupled with the resilience instilled in him growing up on a farm, we hear of Mick’s journey from hard hats and steel caps to leading an ASX 50 Company. Mick shares his views on authentic leadership, decision-making and setting the culture that are crucial to an organisation’s success.

In a candid conversation, Greg and Mick discuss energy infrastructure in Australia and compare it to the standards overseas, a high point of topic as all nations examine how gas supply will help stimulate an economic recovery. They delve into Mick’s motivations, the causes he is passionate about and the changes he looks forward to seeing in the country. Lastly, we hear of the mum test, which has proven to be a reliable tool Mick calls upon in helping him focus and bring things to perspective.

 

In Episode 41, “Open for Debate”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to John Fraser, Chairman of AMP Capital Holdings Ltd, Director of AMP Ltd, Judo Bank, the Future Fund and Advance. John served as the Secretary to the Australian Treasury from 2015 to 2018 and before that was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UBS Global Asset Management based in London. He was previously a Member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Council of Financial Regulators, as well as the Chair of the G20 Global Infrastructure Hub and the Victorian Funds Management Corporation.

In this insightful conversation, John shares with us his unique perspective on the path to recovery as we deal with the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, the incoming shifts in global markets, particularly China and the United States, as well as Australia’s vital role in addressing key geopolitical matters. Greg and John discuss the importance of open and constructive debate, which in times has been marred by unhealthy, zealous political correctness.

John gives us a rare glimpse into the corridors of power, spanning from Canberra to Washington, D.C., where he had postings at the International Monetary Fund and the Australian Embassy, from London to the Middle East, in his roles with UBS Global Asset Management and UBS Saudi Arabia, and from Presidents to Prime Ministers.

 

In Episode 40, “This Too Shall Pass”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Mehrdad Baghai, Chairman of Alchemy Growth, a strategy advisory firm, and Global Chief Executive Officer of High Resolves, a not-for-profit organisation focused on immersive citizenship education programs for young people in Australia, Canada, the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

Mehrdad is the author of New York Times bestseller As One, as well as international bestsellers The Alchemy of Growth and The Granularity of Growth. Mehrdad was previously an Executive Director of the CSIRO and worked at McKinsey and Company as a partner and co-leader of their worldwide Growth Practice.

Greg and Mehrdad discuss leadership during a crisis, the difficult decisions that have to be made and dealing with the delicate topic of trust, especially now as we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Mehrdad also brings to light the unique growth opportunity brought about by a crisis; by looking within and asking the tough questions, we can rise with renewed maturity from this collective wakeup call.

We hear about Mehrdad’s upbringing, and how his family moved from Iran to Canada to escape persecution. Drawing from his experiences, he had a keen interest in collective action, went on to study at Harvard University and worked with Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling. Mehrdad stresses the importance of messaging to inspire collective action, especially with the extraordinary circumstances we currently face.

 

In Episode 39, “Challenge to Greatness”, Blenheim Partners' Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Naomi Simson, Founder of the leading online experience retailer RedBalloon and Co-Founder of The Big Red Group. She is also a Member of The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics Board and a Governor of The Research Foundation of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Naomi is the author of the best-selling books Live What You Love and Ready to Soar and was one of the Sharks in the television program Shark Tank Australia.

Naomi talks us through beginnings of her business and brand, after biding her time in the corporate world, she started RedBalloon at home with a second hand computer and eventually became a household name and media personality. Last year, the Big Red Group delivered $850m worth of economic value to the community and looking forward, aims to serve an experience every second, somewhere on earth, by 2030.

Greg and Naomi discuss the changes we are going through, from the evolution of technology to new working arrangements. In these times, Naomi presents us with the challenge to greatness: how we, as one community, can rally and support one another to bounce back stronger than ever.

In Episode 38, “Life Is Walking Through a Door”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Michael Hawker AM, Non-Executive Director of Macquarie Group Ltd, Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Ltd, BUPA Global Board, BUPA ANZ Group and Rugby World Cup Ltd. He is also a Board Member of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Michael was previously the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Insurance Australia Group Ltd and Chairman of Australian Rugby Union. He represented Australia in rugby union, wearing the green and gold 25 times as well as being Vice-Captain of the Wallabies.

In an engaging discussion, Michael takes us through his journey from being an elite athlete to the challenges he faced as CEO of one of Australia’s most respected organisations. He talks to us about the changing landscapes in global perspectives and the complexities and disruptions at play through the lens of an international Board Director.

Michael and Greg discuss leadership, particularly in a time of crisis and ambiguity, the conviction required in making the difficult decisions and stepping up when presented with the opportunity. Michael recalls the important moments in his career and why life is walking through a door.

Note: This podcast was recorded on 19th March 2020.

In Episode 37, “The Risk of Not Making Change”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Tim Salt, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of GWA Group Ltd. Tim was previously the Managing Director for Diageo Australasia. He also held senior roles in various fast-moving consumer goods companies in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, including Unilever, Lion Nathan, Campbell Arnott’s, Pepsi and Tetley Tea.

In a world where competition is ruthless, Tim brings to light the importance for leaders to make bold decisions to stay ahead of the pack, drawing on his international experience and intense customer-focused DNA. Tim talks about his journey, the early days as an ASX-listed company CEO, walking the walk and seizing opportunities in the once traditional commercial and residential building market that is now undergoing significant shifts.

Tim and Greg have a very open discussion about management theory versus reality and the need for leadership to communicate a clear and aligned purpose. Tim emphasises the importance of having the right people, the “game changers” on the bus, and how GWA’s cutting edge efforts in water solutions and sustainability are leading the world, so much so that they are saving the equivalent of Sydney Harbour’s volume of water each year.

In Episode 36, “Onwards and Upwards”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson speaks to Adrian Turner, a technologist and successful entrepreneur who was the Co-Founder of Borondi Group and Mocana Corporation, a smartphone and Internet of Things security company based in Silicon Valley. He was also the Founding CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, Australia’s largest data innovation network, and is Co-Chair of The Australian Cyber Security Growth Network. Adrian was the Chairman of Australia’s expat network, Advance.org, helping it grow from just over a thousand Australians in New York City to a network of 24,000 across 83 countries. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Digital Economy. A person who makes things happen, Adrian is currently working with Andrew Forrest and the Minderoo Foundation and leads the Minderoo Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program.

Adrian gives us a rare insight into his Silicon Valley experience and how it all came together, sharing stories about the challenges of raising capital, bootstrapping a company to move forward, and the beginnings of tech giants and their founders who are now household names. We learn about the speed of decision making, the incredible spirit of entrepreneurship and the acceptance of failure as part of the journey. Greg and Adrian discuss his return to Australia armed with ideas, the desire to pay it forward and the tremendous success of Data61.

Adrian’s forward-thinking attitude has made him a pioneer in his industry, and in this discussion, we hear about his vision: his next venture and the new industries about to emerge. We also find out more about his role in the Minderoo Foundation to lead the development of a globally-relevant national blueprint for fire and disaster resilience, having fought the fires up close and how a crisis can be an opportunity in disguise.

In Episode 35, “It's All About Survival”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Richard Goyder AO, Chairman of Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian Football League Commission. He is also the Chair of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. Richard was previously the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Wesfarmers Ltd and the Chairman of the B20 Summit held in Australia.

Richard and Greg discuss the big issues facing business, government and all members of society. We learn about the art of leadership, being bold in placing the big bets and why Richard considers surviving as his greatest achievement. In this candid conversation, he shares with us his experiences from growing up in country Western Australia, taking the helm at Wesfarmers and building a world class team, to the challenges of disruption and complexity facing Directors in the Boardroom.

Richard talks about his long-term view on energy and his proud involvement with Qantas, the AFL and the Indigenous community. We also step back and hear of Richards drive across the Nullabor, his trips to the Kimberley, as he imparts advice to current and aspiring leaders and reminds us all not to lose sight of what is important in life.

In Episode 34, “Australia: A Strategy-Free Zone“, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to former Australian Chief of Army, Professor Peter Leahy AC. Peter is currently Chairman of ASX-listed Citadel Group Ltd, Director of Codan Ltd, Electro Optic Systems Holdings Ltd and is a member of the Advisory Boards of WarpForge Ltd and China Matters.

Peter is also Chairman of Soldier On Australia, the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Committee in the Australian Capital Territory, The Australian Student Veterans Association and the Australian International Military Games which brought the Invictus Games to Australia in 2018. Peter is a Professor and the foundation Director of the National Security Institute at the University of Canberra and in 2007 was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia.

Peter encourages us, as Australians, to examine our current circumstances calling for a broad national debate on a number of key issues. He asks what values as a nation do we stand for, where we want to be in the long term, and what is our role as global citizens. He asks how is this reflected in our political and moral leadership and why are we void of coherent strategy and policy.

In this confronting discussion, Peter and Greg delve deeper into leadership and what it actually means. Peter details the challenges he faced in leading Australia’s brave men and women, especially in the political side of war and conflict and looks back to what he feels is one of his deepest regrets from his time in the top rank, sharing very personal stories on a career that has witnessed the grotesque and the great of mankind. Peter covers the parallels between the military and business and leaves us filled with enormous optimism and pride in our country.

In Episode 33, “Never Too Late”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Judith Downes, Chair of Bank Australia and Non-Executive Director of Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd, ImpediMed Ltd and The Spinal Research Institute. She is also a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Governing Board Forum. Judith previously held senior executive roles at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Alumina Ltd.

Judith shares with us her unique story from the classroom to the boardroom. Starting as a high school maths teacher, she made the courageous decision to embark on a new journey and, as a thirty-five-year-old, found herself competing with fresh university graduates in the corporate world. Judith’s determination to succeed in a new sector and her rising through the ranks allowed her to play a crucial role in the pioneering of flexible working arrangements for both men and women in the workforce. She provides us with surprising insights about the transition and qualities one must have to be considered for and to be able to contribute to a Board. Judith encourages us to question the prevailing executive remuneration structure and presents her perspective on the meaning of diversity.

In a world of a heightened sense of social responsibility and conscious decision-making, Judith and Greg discuss the concept of clean money and how Bank Australia leads this movement. Judith explains how fintech developments and increasingly competitive rates are turning boutique banks into more attractive alternatives in a new era for banking. Furthermore, she talks about the potential of open banking, the constant threat of cyber-attacks on banks, and why cryptocurrency still has a long way to go.

In Episode 32, “Putting the Planet First”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Geoff Brunsdon, Chairman of Sims Metal Management Ltd, APN Funds Management Ltd and MetLife Insurance Ltd.

Geoff, Chairman of the world’s leading metal recycler, addresses what is arguably the most important generational issue of our time. He presents the potential of hydrogen economies, the value of having more forward-thinking Boards and highlights the necessity to shift to more sustainable systems, especially with changing attitudes and growing amount of waste the world produces. He cites the policies implemented by leading nations to drive this change and also showcases what Sims Metal Management is doing to lead and participate in the transition into a world with lower carbon emissions.

As Chairman of a company with over two hundred facilities across twenty countries in five continents, Geoff shares with us his views on the role of the Board in the success of a business. From being passionate about the purpose of the company to having the right mentors, Geoff and Greg discuss the different facets of Directorship and the dangers of allowing negative behaviours to become entrenched and normalised in a company.

In this discussion, Geoff brings a perspective of optimism at a time when the world and its leaders are facing crucial decisions. He talks about the importance of being able to integrate new technologies into existing businesses, without leaving behind sectors of society that may be marginalised as an effect of this shift. Furthermore, Geoff stresses the need for imagination and investment to usher in a new age of sustainable industrial economies.

In Episode 31, “Straight Up Courage”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Fred Schebesta, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Finder, a global comparison website. Today, the company operates in more than eighty countries, employs four hundred people and attracts ten million visits each month. Fred debuted in the Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List in 2019 with a net worth of $193m.

Having always embodied the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, Fred shares with us stories of his relentless efforts in developing projects which led to the success of Finder. We hear about how the website came about, its purpose of improving people’s lives, what is next for the growing company and a potential public listing in the horizon.

In the cutthroat industry of search engine optimisation, Fred discusses the decisions he made, including a run-in with technology giant Google, which almost brought the company to ruin. He talks about the value of having courage in taking risks, speaking up and making mistakes. Furthermore, Fred reveals to us a vision never before shared about the future of Australia. He elaborates his view of the Australian technology landscape and compares this to the more favourable conditions overseas, the ever-rising relevance of cryptocurrency and how we can protect our wealth.

Finder have recently soft-launched the “Finder App”, the first in Australia to connect your accounts to provide you with insights, comparisons and opportunities to save. The app is available on different platforms and can be unlocked for early access through a code which will be revealed during the episode.

In Episode 30, “Finding a Voice in a World of Noise“, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to the Managing Director of Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australia, James Taylor.

Having been in a variety of industries, James always had a particular interest in media. After finishing his master’s degree, he started a role with the ABC and then headed overseas to work at British Telecom. After the Global Financial Crisis, James returned to Australia and worked at Deloitte, where he had the SBS as one of his clients. From there, he started his career in SBS with the finance team, becoming CFO, before being appointed Managing Director in October 2018.

With respect to the constant evolution of the various facets of media, from fake news in social channels influencing public perceptions to preferences when it comes to how content is consumed, James shares his thoughts on these topics and explains how the SBS stays true to its unique purpose, and role as a public broadcaster.

James takes pride in being part of an organisation that promotes unity and diversity by delivering a product which aims to inform, include and engage all Australians. SBS broadcasts in 68 languages through a variety of platforms.

In this day and age of data and analytics, James and Greg discuss how leaders should take time to listen and think. In his role, James believes that the ability to hear and listen to a diversity of thoughts and ideas enables one to have a more profound impact in an organisation, and even society.

In Episode 29, “The World of Reality Has Its Limits; The World of Imagination is Boundless“, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Star Entertainment Group Ltd, Matt Bekier.
Hailing from Saint Gall, Switzerland, Matt came from a family of academics. Initially unsure of which path to follow, he eventually pursued economics and finance, which led to a 15 year international career at McKinsey & Company and continued success with Tabcorp Holdings Ltd, then The Star Entertainment Group Ltd.

Matt presents his thoughts on leadership and the facts. Having worked across an array of countries, he brings a unique perspective on the matter, believing that leadership is not about the “big personality”, it’s the willingness to commit to action and go over the trench with the team.

Although challenges do exist, he is very optimistic about the future of the Australian economy and highlights some home truths. He also shares with us his insights into the opportunities that tourism offers and how, as a nation, we should take advantage of them before it’s too late.

Furthermore, Greg and Matt converse on the significant potential around digital, analytics and artificial intelligence and what this means for the customer. They discuss the evolution of The Star Entertainment Group Ltd, the recent journey and exciting future as well as the macroeconomic and political environment that business face. Importantly throughout the discussion, we are presented with some differing views to conventional wisdom.

In Episode 28, “Nothing will work unless you do“, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson speaks to Group Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd, Alison Watkins. Originating from the idyllic countryside of Tasmania, Alison, who once thought she would spend the rest of her life in Tasmania has become one of Australia’s most recognised business leaders.

Soon after leaving Tasmania, she joined Management Consulting firm McKinsey & Company. It is here where the foundations of success were laid for Alison, and she was able to observe the key traits in what makes a successful leader. She reflects on her time at McKinsey and tells us that sometimes just doing your job isn’t enough and going that extra mile is what separates the good from the great.

Alison shares with us an opportunity she was given at ANZ, and how taking that opportunity opened the doors to her executive career. She discusses some of the challenges she encountered as Chief Executive at GrainCorp and the roadblocks she faced at the hands of the Government. Furthermore, she talks of the future of Coca-Cola Amatil and its role as a socially responsible company.

Greg and Alison also discuss the importance of risk-taking, the impact of social media, what she feels defines diversity, and whether or not it works, the effect the political landscape of Australia has on the economy and the significance on being willing and wanting to change.

In Episode 27, “Fear – What’s Fear?”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to one of Australia’s greatest entrepreneurs Gerry Harvey, Chairman of the well-known retail group, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. Under Gerry’s tenure, the business has become one of the most successful retailers with 195 franchised stores in Australia and 89 stores in New Zealand, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia with many more on the way.

Beginning his career as a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman to becoming one of the most recognised and distinguished business leaders, Gerry shares with us the genesis and growth of Harvey Norman, sharing with us the many ups and downs he has had to face in order to thrive in one of the most competitive industries.

In Part B of this two part series, Gerry discusses the state of retail, Australian and international politics, the economy, seizing opportunity, his passion for horse trading and the important things in life.

In Episode 27, “Fear – What’s Fear?”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to one of Australia’s greatest entrepreneurs Gerry Harvey, Chairman of the well-known retail group, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. Under Gerry’s tenure, the business has become one of the most successful retailers with 195 franchised stores in Australia and 89 stores in New Zealand, Slovenia, Croatia, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia with many more on the way.

Beginning his career as a door to door vacuum cleaner salesman to becoming one of the most recognised and distinguished business leaders, Gerry shares with us the genesis and growth of Harvey Norman, sharing with us the many ups and downs he has had to face in order to thrive in one of the most competitive industries.

In Part A of this two part series, Gerry discusses what motivates him, what makes a good leader and businessman, his unique and successful partnership with the CEO and taking risk.

In Episode 26, “Bureaucracy – That Which Turns Energy Into Solid Waste”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Dr Peter Farrell AM, Founder and Chairman of ResMed Inc.

Peter shares a personal story and how he took a chance and invested in continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the first successful non-invasive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Starting from a garage in Australia he went on to found ResMed to help commercialise and allow scalable production of CPAP with a business that is now dual listed (ASX/NYSE), has a market cap of over US$19bn across 120 countries and still growing. “If we were in a marathon we are only doing our shoe laces up..that’s how much growth opportunity there is”.

In this colourful and very thought provoking discussion, Peter pulls no punches. “Entrepreneurship has almost nothing to do with risk taking, it’s opportunity seeking..and innovation only occurs when somebody writes you a cheque”. He discusses the criteria and platform for business success and “the need for world-class people”. He also is to the point in regards to other business dynamics, including political correctness, diversity, social media, competition, the investment in technology and focus on product and customer.

Peter shares his thoughts on climate change, arguing that the conditions we are experiencing today are the result of the natural process, as opposed to anthropogenic causes, claiming it to be “absolute nonsense”. Having resided in the United States for several years, Peter highlights the political atmosphere of the country, calling out those who he feels continually “virtue signal” with complete disregard for common sense breaking the back of American society.

Lastly, Peter touches on global affairs including China, Brexit and how the Bureaucrats of Brussels have persistently road blocked British attempts to leave the European Union. He suggests the hard line politicians with back bone such as Margaret Thatcher are a rare breed and is concerned how Australia is positioning itself with an “insane” corporate tax rate of 30%. He questions who would manufacture in Australia when neighbouring countries are far more competitive and willing to incentivise business.

This is an open conversation with views put forward by Peter to question and challenge. Not everyone will agree, some will agree to disagree but as Peter stresses, lets look at the facts and have the conversation.

In Episode 25, “The Long Game”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Robert Johanson, Chairman of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. In a discussion not lacking in detail, Robert shares with us his story and explains to us his deep connection with the city of Bendigo and how this personal relationship with the once building society led to him becoming Chairman of his childhood local bank.

Robert has had a distinguished career with over thirty years’ experience in corporate finance and investment banking, and has been involved in a wide array of capital markets transactions for several leading corporations.

Robert delves deep into a discussion on the history of Australian banks and the transformation of banks into what they are today, pillars of our society. He discusses the relatively low importance the Australian bank had on the majority of the populace, instead an institution used by the rich and powerful. The changes made by the Hawke and Keating Governments allowed for the opening up of the financial system and as Robert claims was “one of the big revolutions” which allowed finance and credit to be available to almost all and hence forth, has been the lifeblood and a fundamental building block to our economic and social life.

Robert also shares with us his concerns on the implications that the general availability of credit to all can have, citing the “great collapse” of 2007 and that this tragedy was “the roosters coming home to roost” which has given rise to increased regulatory intrusion that we wouldn’t of have imaged possible before. Robert also discusses the importance of utilising technology stating, “technology is the most important factor in banking for the next generation” and taking advantage of these new emerging technologies will help streamline the process for the customer and is key to future success.

Lastly, Robert tells us that he feels it is the responsibility of his bank to give back to the local community and shares with us the belief that “banks don’t prosper when the communities in which they operate become impoverished. It’s only when they’re prosperous that banks prosper too”.

In Episode 24, “Breaking Down Conventional Wisdom”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Tim Sims AM, Managing Director and Founder of Pacific Equity Partners.

In an open and fascinating discussion, Tim shares with us his story. From an early age he has been on the move, living in several poverty stricken nations and being exposed to much more than most and ultimately was determined to one day have the means to help those who are socially disadvantaged.

Tim has had a distinguished business career, commencing in management consultancy with LEK before becoming the Chairman and Managing Director of Bain & Company’s Australasian and African operations and a member of Bain & Company’s Global Executive Committee. Advising many CEO’s, Tim shares with us some unique insights and encourages us to question some long held business principles as he discusses his transition to private equity and reveals the precepts of PE and dispels the myths.

We explore the climate of the market, the significance of the board configuration in determining company performance, the opportunity to release the full potential of organisations from the bonds of the current model and the willingness to break down conventional wisdom to achieve so much more.

Lastly, we cover Tim’s deep passion and obligation to help others through his philanthropic initiatives and how he has applied his expertise from the world of private equity into helping those in need.

In Episode 23, “The Board Dilemma”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Graham Bradley AM, Chairman of GrainCorp Ltd.

Having been a management consultant for 12 years it was on the day of his retirement from McKinsey when Graham was given an opportunity which would lead to his eventual appointment as Chief Executive Officer of law firm, Blake Dawson Waldron. This appointment spring boarded Graham into the corporate world and he has thrived ever since, becoming a Non-Executive Chairman for GrainCorp Ltd, EnergyAustralia Holdings, HSBC Bank Australia and Virgin Australia International Holdings. He is also a Director of HongKong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd, GI Dynamics, and Stilmark Pty Ltd.

With extensive experience on Boards, Graham shares his thoughts on what he feels is needed in today’s boards. Having been involved in the appointment of five Chief Executives he has a clear perspective on what he looks for, he states “We’re not looking for the person who’s going to be autocratic. We’re not looking for someone who comes in with very fixed ideas about what’s to be done and how to run the business. I think we’re looking for someone who is a little more humble”.

Graham goes on to discuss in depth the current composition of Australian boards and highlights the pros and cons of the current framework of an Australian Board. Graham also shares with us his belief in what is crucial to improve the quality of Boards, a greater need for “cognitive diversity” which Graham feels is more important than gender and ethnic diversity. He explains cognitive diversity as people who “bring a different life experience and therefore a different perspective to the business issues, who have had experience in different walks of life. But that isn’t to say you go out and say well we need a poet, we need a musician and we need someone who is you know from totally different backgrounds.”

Lastly, Graham touches on the real need for reflection and consideration around social license, and the need to consider long term consequences. He refers to the ASX guidelines revision draft and highlights the changing norms in today’s society in which companies are no longer solely judged by profit but by their social standing.

In Episode 22, “Going Beyond”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Stefanie Loader, current Non-Executive Director of St Barbara Ltd and Clean TeQ Ltd. Stefanie has previously been recognised as one of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of influence and is a mining industry executive with broad international experience. She has worked in exploration, project evaluation and development, mining and corporate roles across seven countries and four continents. Stefanie was most recently Managing Director of Northparkes Copper and Gold Mine for CMOC International.

In an open and thoughtful discussion, Stefanie reveals her story, one of an individual who has constantly gone against the grain in several aspects of life and has profited from doing so. Dialling in from country Australia, we learn how Stefanie commenced her career as a geologist, worked internationally, became the first woman Chairman of the NSW Minerals Council and now whilst pursuing a board career is also focused on the economic development of regional Australia.

Lastly, we cover societal expectations for young women and the need for more than a shift in chat.

In Episode 21, “Failure Isn’t Fatal”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Rob Newman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nearmap Ltd, a next generation digital content provider offering access to high resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D data sets and integrated geospatial tools.

Starting his first business whilst still at University, Rob had his entrepreneurial spirit implanted in him at a young age. Being fascinated by technology in his youth, he was encouraged by his father to use that fascination and mix it with business, laying the foundations for his future endeavours.

Rob highlights the fact that Australia “hasn’t created a culture and a belief that we can be commercially successful with technology”. He believes that Australians have the capacity to excel in creating technology, but falter in our knowledge of how to market and sell technology. Instead, Australian’s either license, sell-out and go offshore too early. This leaves most of the value and experience offshore, robbing Australia of the opportunity to build a sustainable technology industry.

In this very upbeat and passionate discussion, Rob offers a piece of advice for the Government regarding technology, “get out of the way”. He believes the continual shift in policy regarding innovation by the Australian Government is a huge detriment to the survival and growth of the industry. He states what is needed is for the Government to disassociate itself from start-ups and allow for free-enterprise to take hold.

Lastly, Rob comments on understanding the importance of failure in future success. The numerous trials and tribulations he has gone through his career have left a distinct impression on him in which he understands without risk there can be no reward.

In Episode 20, “Expect Success”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Kathryn Fagg, Chair of Boral Ltd and Director of Incitec Pivot Ltd, Djerriwarrh Investments Ltd and CSIRO.

Kathryn is one of those rare executives who has broken with tradition and worked across a range of industries and been highly successful. She commenced her career as a petroleum engineer for Esso Australia in what was a girl’s adventure in a man’s world before pursuing her interest as a problem solving junkie with McKinsey & Co. Wanting to further test herself, she then joined ANZ Banking Group in the roles of General Manager, Retail Banking, New Zealand leading over 5000 people, and later Managing Director, Banking Products. Kathryn then chose to return to her industrial roots and joined BHP Steel which became BlueScope Steel, becoming President of the Asia division, including Chair of Tata BlueScope Steel in India. She eventually returned to Australia and helped Linfox turnaround a division before making an earlier than expected career transition to the Boardroom. Kathryn has since built an impressive NED career serving on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Chairman of Breast Cancer Network Australia and most recently was President of Chief Executive Women.

Greg and Kathryn discuss a myriad of topics including business optimism in Australia, the composition of Boards, the need for more effective R&D, fear of innovation and what is real diversity. Kathryn expresses concern of the lack of females in executive roles, what needs to change and what numbers she would expect in the next ten years. She puts forward her concerns over the gap between the high numbers of educated females to the low number of females pursuing senior careers and poignantly questions the waste to the nation and the time for decisive leadership.

Lastly and importantly, Kathryn shares with us her thoughts on taking risk and not being one of those disappointed with how things turned out. With her infectious confidence, Kathryn is “absolutely driven and expects to be successful” whilst at the same time taking the approach of “giving it a shot and if it doesn’t work out you’ll get another job”, a lesson for us all.

In Episode 19, “Cyber War: The ADF’s New Battleground”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Major General Marcus Thompson AM, Head of Information Warfare at the Australian Defence Force.

In what is arguably recommended listening to all, Greg and Marcus discuss the disturbing increase of emerging cyber technologies, the significant impact an attack can have and what needs to be done to curb the heightened threat of cyber-attacks on Australia. Marcus stresses the importance of cyber security and reinforces the fact that everyone is at risk of cyber-attack.

Business and social engagement is increasingly being conducted over network connected devices and as a result, so too has the scale of intrusion and threat. Marcus highlights the rewards of cyber-crime have become so great that Cyber criminals are often highly professional and very sophisticated, drawing on the resources of organised crime or rogue states with both businesses and individuals as their highly tempting targets.

Marcus puts forward a worst case scenario in which he describes an attack which comes “at scale”. Explaining, “If a large scale attack can currently hit critical infrastructure, then we would be at serious risk, essential infrastructure such as air traffic control, financial systems and telecommunication services would all be severely hampered and cause a break down in society. What would happen if we couldn’t use our credit cards for a week, call, text or transfer funds?”.

Lastly, Marcus highlights the effectiveness of a cyber-attack sharing an example of a team of only five cyber operators, five intelligence officers and two lawyers were able to unpack an entire force of soldiers performing war games by using their social media activity against them. Within less than 48 hours, the team had determined the unit names, the unit locations in the war game, in some cases unit intent and had seized the initiative and helped change the course and outcome of the hypothetical war.

In Episode 18, “It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Kate McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer of Chorus Ltd.

Greg dials across the Tasman to speak to Kate and discusses how by 2022, 87% of New Zealanders will have access to high speed fibre broadband and how the premise of wanting to keep New Zealand ahead of the curve has promoted a climate of innovation and digitisation. “Our vision is to keep New Zealand new and our purpose is to make New Zealand better”. The build is on time and on budget, giving people access to affordable and high quality broadband, which in turn is assisting in the growth and evolvement of the economy.

Kate also discusses the increasing influence that the internet has on our lives and shares with us the opportunities and challenges she faces at Chorus. In particular, the benefits of co-operation and innovation between company and state as well as the responsibility that comes in having to deal with cyber criminals.

As Chief Executive Officer, Kate shares her thoughts on leadership, the importance of personal character traits of optimism, curiosity, and courage. She also puts forward her thoughts on executives having at least one external role, a definition of diversity and the need to engender confidence in the up and coming executives.

In Episode 17, “The Go Gene”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Lindsay Partridge AM, Managing Director of Brickworks Ltd.

A rare case in any part of the world, Lindsay Partridge has been at the helm of Brickworks for 20 years. Inheriting “five factories in two states”, Brickworks under Lindsay’s tenure has grown significantly in terms of size and profitability as its operations have become not only Australia-wide, but international, with its product range extending beyond bricks to roofing tiles, pavers, masonry, precast panels, timber products and activities expanding into property development.

Lindsay and Greg discuss the current climate of business conditions within Australia, which Lindsay claims as “toxic” and that the path we are continuing down will lead to businesses taking manufacturing elsewhere due to an ever increasing cost of production. He shares how Brickworks has continued to grow through innovation and seizing new strategic opportunities, highlighting the ambitious growth strategy in the United States and the recent $151 million acquisition of Glen-Gery, America’s fourth-largest brick manufacturer.

Lastly, Greg and Lindsay discuss what makes a great CEO and the need for the “go gene”.

In Episode 16, “Aerotropolis – The Future of International Airports”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Graham Millett, Chief Executive Officer of WSA Co. Graham has been given the monumental task of being at the reins for the construction of Western Sydney Airport. Graham brings extensive experience in the aviation industry as well as being a qualified pilot.

Graham discusses the importance of looking outwards at other international airports in gaining a perspective of what elements create the perfect airport. He shares with Greg his plans on opening a carbon neutral airport with renewable energy, low wastage levels and plenty of recycling.

Graham discusses the technologies he wants to completely immerse into the new Western Sydney airport with newer more advanced technologies than currently available at Kingsford Smith Airport which will ultimately help create a more relaxed and leisurely experience upon arriving at the airport. He shares with us his plan on working with Uber Elevate to create what sounds like “flying cars” to assist with congestion as well as time. Adding to Uber Elevate, he shares his vision of the airport having a strong public transport presence which again, will help lessen congestion and reduce pollution.

He also stresses the importance of an airport being more than just an airport, his key goal is to create an Aerotropolis, which he defines as an aviation city. Graham and his team hope to create an airport which combines residential, commercial and industrial types of facilities, essentially becoming a hub of not just air travel but a hub of business.

In Episode 15, “You Can’t Survive Unless You're Disciplined”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Michael Byrne, Managing Director of Toll Group.

Michael brings to light an honest appraisal of not only himself but the business environment in which he is in. Michael speaks frankly about his role and the necessities and tough decisions that come with it and how as a leader you must be able to do two things, “think extremely long term and be in the absolute minutiae of the detail”.

Beginning his career in logistics, Michael supported his mother’s transportation company which has led to a distinguished career working for well-known companies such as Mayne Nickless, Westgate, Linfox and now Toll. He explains how his near “monastic” life has helped him navigate his career in which he states that “he always wanted the job no one wanted”. Like most leaders, Michael is never happy with what he has achieved. He believes that it is the role of the Managing Director to continue to encourage others to break the barrier and continue to push boundaries and stay ahead of the continuously unpredictable world.

Michael declares that he understands that “not everyone is going to agree with you” and wanting to please the 44,000 people who he leads at toll is counterproductive, instead it is his responsibility to pick those few around him who he deems fit to act as “acolytes” to help him move forward. Looking back at his time at Linfox he drives home the importance of “investing in people”, reinforcing this with his experiences with the Fox family who invested heavily in him leading to “enormous opportunities” and due to their well-placed confidence in him, has led him to the position he is in today.

Lastly, Michael speaks frankly on how strategy is regarded in the mind of today’s businesses. He emphasises that strategy takes years to execute, two years at minimum, so to change strategy every year only hurts a business and consequently blurs any real long term objective and subverts strategy to tactics.

In Episode 14, “The Culture of Innovation and Embracing Change”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Barry Irvin AM, Executive Chairman of Bega Cheese Limited.

Barry’s story is inspiring. To say Barry has faced challenges is an understatement. In this very personal and illuminating discussion, Barry shares with us the human side of an ASX Chairman and how culture and innovation come from all parts of life and are not what is necessarily found in the business textbook or hung as the company mantra on the office walls.

Through curiosity, hard work and as a result of difficult personal circumstances he found himself getting better acquainted with the Bega dairy Co-Op and soon realised it may be the avenue for his business career. Within a short period of time Barry became Chairman of Bega Cheese, and through his outstanding leadership has taken an organisation in very difficult circumstances, through a transformational journey that has seen it cemented as a powerhouse in the dairy industry where it holds 15% of the Australian retail cheese market exported to over 40 countries.

Barry shares insights into his first day as leader of Bega Cheese and his first strategy meeting knowing that the competitors were circling saying “the competitive advantage we have is that we have no competitive advantage. Everybody will underestimate us. We will be on everybody’s list to disappear”. Barry’s passion and willingness to take calculated risk comes through as does his ability to share his dream with competitors and question the status quo.

In 2017 Bega announced a $460 million deal with Mondelez International to acquire most of their grocery and cheese business in Australia and New Zealand which included the iconic Australian product Vegemite as well as the license to manufacture Kraft branded cheese and peanut butter. These acquisitions add over $310 million in annual revenue and has moved Bega Cheese from a dairy-based company to a diversified consumer goods company.

Today Barry is a central figure in the Australian Dairy and consumer goods industry and is not sitting back but wants to take on the global markets with Australian ingenuity and smarts.

Barry has also played a key role in the development of Giant Steps, the charity that seeks to provide support to families, to improve understanding of autism in the wider community and to develop best practice among carers and professionals.

In Episode 13, “A Leader is a Dealer in Hope”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Vik Bansal, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd.

In an inspiring episode, Vik lays the groundwork for what makes success. He reinforces this notion by sharing his own story and how the risks he took which others declined, ultimately spring boarded him on a global career. His enthusiastic and relentless drive has established him as a leader of the highest degree.

Vik brings a spirited approach to leadership, his deep thinking and front facing style to the “moments of truth” is evident throughout Greg and Vik’s discussion. Sustainability is at the forefront of Vik’s agenda, he states “there is nothing Cleanaway does every single minute, every day, which does not help the planet”.

He explains that he and Cleanaway are at the “pointy edge” of something critical for the human species and shares his belief that a clear national waste and climate policy is needed to help cement sustainability in the minds of all Australian households, an opportunity worthy of pursuit.

Vik is concerned that leadership is highly underestimated in today’s society and needs to be encouraged. Vik puts forward the quintessential trait of a leader is humility and that honesty is the best medicine. In a thought provoking discussion, Vik forces us to really think and provides key insights to a philosophy which has allowed him to bring about unprecedented results in what most others felt was a lost cause.

In Episode 12, “Aspirational Ambition”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Mike Smith OBE. Mike Smith has had a distinguished career in the banking sector and shares the lessons he has learned whilst climbing his way up the executive ladder.

Mike discusses his early career working at HSBC where an invitation to play a game of rugby led to him getting a job at the Hong Kong branch of HSBC. Initially uninformed about banking Mike rallied and went on to lead a team of 200, at the age of 22.

Mike also recalls his time working in Argentina where he took it upon himself to investigate corruption which led to an attempt on his life whilst driving home. Understandably an event like this would send most people packing but as a testament to his character, Mike decided to stay in Argentina, saying that “It’s a question of if I was ready to give in, and I was not ready to give in”.

Mike also discusses how a shared vision of the opportunity to expand into Asia led him to become the Chief Executive Officer of ANZ. He highlights the intricacies of what it was like to be the Head of a multinational bank and highlights the difficulties in opening up ANZ to the Asian market. Ever the contrarian, Mike pushed ahead with his belief in expansion into Asia.

Greg and Mike also deliberate on the current economic conditions that the world today faces. Issues such as Brexit, China and President Trump come to light as well as how society as a whole is changing today, especially the dramatic increase in the influence of social media, with Mike stating that “we pander to issues which create noise on social media”.

In Episode 11, “Instinct – The Difference Between a Leader and a Follower”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk to Major General Fergus McLachlan, AO of the Australian Army.

Gus shares his thoughts on modern leadership in complex disrupted organisations through his lens as Commander of Forces Command, with responsibility for 36,000 personnel which equates to 85% of the Australian Army. Especially interesting are his insights into similarities and differences in leadership between business and the military, and the learnings that each can gain from the other.

In his role as Commander of Forces Command, Gus has a diverse set of responsibilities, comparable to many Chief Executives, but operating in a different context. Gus presents his insights as previous Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning, where he had responsibility for developing the future operating concepts that are keeping Australia ahead of potential threat organisations. These initiatives can lead to $20-30bn investments over the life of major capabilities and may include the creation of a digital “internet of things” linking all elements of the organisation, a redesign of the Army structure to accommodate the growth of cyber and electronic warfare capabilities and the creation of an Army innovation system.

As Senior Campaign Planner Coalition Forces Afghanistan 2013, he had a key role for the multi-national coalition involved in the stabilisation of Afghanistan following the removal of the Taliban regime. The role spanned strategy development to provide force drawdown and force structure options to the President of the United States of America to the apportionment of development resources and mentoring of Afghan partner forces. The coalition comprised over 30 nations, each with different national objectives and planning was done in a dynamic and often lethal environment.

In Episode 10, “Redefining Leadership… A Higher Purpose”, Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Georgette Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd.

Greg and Georgette converse on a number of topics including the redefinition of leadership, the importance of values, a broader approach to diversity and inclusion, the higher purpose to work, and how difficult it is for a female to get ahead. Georgette shares her personal experience in the face of adversity, highlighting that diversity and inclusion is much broader than just gender and that leadership is far more than the “last out the door” approach to work.

Georgette discusses the fundamental difference in business between Australia and the United States, emphasising how the United States culture is more willing to take risks. She highlights the challenges around short-termism, the need for the Board and the Executive team to be firmly aligned to the strategy, the conversation around remuneration and impact and asks are you living the values of the corporation and yourself. Ultimately Georgette believes in passion, resilience, humility and leaving the world better than when she arrived.

In Episode 9, “The Death of Trust And Its Resurrection”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Ian Elliot, one of Australia’s leading marketing minds.

Ian learned the marketing ropes from the ground up. He began as a mail boy in Australia’s biggest advertising agency, George Patterson, and progressed to be its Chairman and CEO. Along the way he helped create some memorable and valuable brands like the Optus ‘YES’ campaign. Ian retired at just 48 years old, before transitioning to senior ASX listed NED and Chair roles.

The informative and highly entertaining interview with Ian covers not just his personal and career journey but touches on some very important and prescient topics. He hits the high points of his best-selling book ‘Stop Bitching, Start Pitching’.

Trust is at the heart of brand building and business success. Ian outlines examples of how he believes we are living in a period where trust has never before been breached on so many fronts. The potential commercial, economic and social implications are far reaching and disturbing. His references to the recent Royal Commission pulls no punches. Ian cements his views on trust by sharing his own stories of his experiences around the world in which trust can be earned in the most subtle of ways, whilst also presenting his proprietary formula for measuring trust expressed as a mathematical equation.

‘Creating Wow Moments’ for clients is another topic Ian maintains is the key to successful profits. ‘I’m more interested in traction than transaction’ he says, ‘because repeat purchases by sticky loyal customers is the key to margin growth’. How he develops these outstanding moments of truth is fascinating.

EVERYONE who hears this podcast will make a note of The Elliot Trust Formula and use it to measure the trustworthiness of those they need to rely upon. From staff to employers, to suppliers to shareholders, friends and extended family members. Most importantly he asks us to judge our own score for trustworthiness and use that to embark on a journey of continuous improvement.

In Episode 8, “The Time For Change – Some Questioning Needed”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with David Gonski AC, one of Australia’s most respected business leaders, company directors and Chairman of ANZ Banking Group Ltd.

David and Gregory discuss the current state of ASX Boards, their role, structure and composition. David suggests an alternative model to meet market and stakeholder expectations. He presents a framework similar to what exists in Germany, namely the two-tier model, where you have a Supervisory and a Management Board to provide all the requirements that we aspire to today.

They cover ANZ’s international history and expansion as well as the current strategy and focus on “agile”. David highlights the relationship between business and Government and how interaction could be improved. David puts forward his views on Gonski 1.0, 2.0 and “3.0” and is asked as a nation, do we place enough value on education?

To this day, David still sees himself as an immigrant and believes very strongly in the value of immigration, offering some personal insight in keeping ones dreams alive, his relentless pursuit to prove himself each day and “give back” to the country. David shares the key learnings gained from the various mentors in his life and the legacy he would like to leave.

In a highly engaging discussion, David encourages the need for questioning and the time for change.

In episode 7, “It's About Attitude, Service And Brand”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson talks to John Borghetti AO, current Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, one of Australia's leading airlines and the largest airline by fleet size to use the Virgin brand. In this podcast, John and Greg discuss the early years of John’s career and how a simple image of Rio de Janeiro in his youth led him on a path that would place him at the forefront of the Australian airline industry.

John discusses his career in the airline industry, starting at the mailroom and working his way up to the senior ranks of the Qantas hierarchy, and finally in 2010 becoming Head of Virgin Australia.

They cover the key challenges that John had to face as CEO of Virgin and the evolution of Aircraft in the last 50 years, and how through increasingly more effective technology we are able to travel the world in shorter times.

John delves into his younger years, working at his father’s coffee shop who was “always out front” to greet and welcome customers, which helped shape John’s philosophy for years to come.

John discusses how he felt it was necessary to give his personal phone number to all Virgin Australia pilots on his first day, stating that he feels “they have the best seat of the house” in how the business is run.

“Everyone fly’s through an aluminium tube, the one thing that makes the difference is the people who are inside those tubes and how they interact with you, simply looking someone in the eye, a smile and calling someone by their name is all you need”.

In Episode 6, “The Street Smart CEO”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak with Brendon Cook, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of oOh! Media, a leading out-of-home advertising business in Australia and New Zealand. Brendon shares his story, from a dismal HSC result to founding and leading a world recognised business.

Brendon and Gregory discuss the various stages of oOh! Media including iterations of the business name over the last 39 years. He highlights the pivotal moments in the Company’s history from their first big client to the investors that believed in the Company’s vision for the future. They cover research, innovation and technology on the global stage and how Brendon has shaped a business to achieve targets eight years out. He and Gregory discuss the evolution of the industry and how out-of-home advertising has remained effective throughout the year’s thanks to cutting-edge technology. Brendon looks to the future of the out-of-home advertising industry and how to lead a company which blends property, real estate, logistics, advertising, media and technology.

Brendon has continuously elevated oOh! Media to a new level that’s far beyond what out-of-home was back when he bluffed his way through his first interview. He emphasises his personal commitment to learning and growth as well as developing a company culture with the same focus. He and Gregory discuss the changing needs of the business from hiring young talent that wanted to “have a go” to data architects and data scientists. Brendon hones in on the importance of a vision and developing a culture where your staff are happy to go to work.

From taking on Google and Facebook to advertising for driverless cars, Brendon leaves you with the feeling that anything is possible with the right attitude and a little perseverance.

In Episode 5, “Inspiring Others To Follow You”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Danny Gilbert, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Gilbert + Tobin, a leading independent corporate law firm and a key player in the Australian legal market.

Danny shares his journey, from when he left a leading law firm in 1988 to establish the firm with fellow Lawyer Tony Tobin. Over the next 30 years, Gilbert + Tobin built an outstanding reputation taking market share from the major well established law firms, many of which had been in practice for over 100 years and would not have thought it possible for a new brand to emerge and challenge them. Today, Gilbert + Tobin employs 700 people, including 80 Partners with one of the highest proportions of female partners of any major Australian law firm and are acknowledged as a pioneer in providing pro bono services.

Starting life in country NSW, he followed the advice of his school teacher and moved to Sydney to study law, the vehicle which would later allow him to transcend from lawyer to entrepreneur and successful businessman. Danny placed an early bet that Gilbert & Tobin should build a profile as the experts in technology, telecommunications and media. Soon the firm became renowned for their progressive approach to legal issues and client service.

Danny also had a burning desire from day one to give back with an unswerving commitment to social justice. Danny realised if he was to make a difference and walk the walk he had to generate revenue. It was obvious he needed to grow the firm if he was to significantly give and did so with vigour and dedication. Not everyone makes it, and Danny has faced setbacks but sees his role increasingly as the disrupter balancing the desire to grow and the need to be a good corporate citizen.

Danny also discusses his views on the need to amend the constitution and recognise the indigenous people. He highlights the standing of business in the Australian community and shares responsibility for the damage being done by banks as a former Director of one of the four major banks. Danny highlights the role of the political parties, the relationship with business and a personal disappointment in regards to the ABC.

Danny has created a spirit in the organisation of relentless energy and an open environment with people who want to achieve, creating a top tier firm. Gregory asks Danny what he feels are the essential qualities for success and where he actually spends his time. Is Leadership really as simple as inspiring others to follow you?

In a topical and engaging discussion Danny sums his success in two words, “Back Yourself”.

In Episode 4, “Leadership – It’s all about the Team”, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson is delighted to talk with Roger Corbett AO, a highly respected business leader about his 50 year career in retail starting on the Grace Brothers loading dock floor and progressing to become the Chief Executive Officer of Woolworths, leaving it as the leading supermarket retailer in Australia and in the top echelon of retailers in the world.

Roger shares his thoughts on the journey, punctuated with real-world experiences. He discusses his thoughts about taking risks, missing out on opportunities, having confidence in one’s ability, the importance of family and those that help you along the way.

Gregory gains Roger’s views on the erosion of trust in Australian business and the Banking Royal Commission. Roger challenges the effectiveness of today’s Boards, in particular that of Chairmen and highlights concerns about the role of business as well as the ACCC and BCA in the national debate. He feels the silence of business is a genuine cause for worry.

Gregory asks Roger about the transition from Chief Executive Officer to Director and in particular the lessons learned as Chairman at Fairfax during a time of tremendous technological change and the impact of digital on the newspaper. Were the Board and Executive Team able to appreciate the business opportunity and threat, and the thinking at the time?

Gregory and Roger also consider the collective impact of digital technology and of cynicism in society and examine the broader picture of political leadership including Donald Trump and the United States. Roger discusses the Australian political landscape and the unrealised potential Australian Governments have presided over. He shares his disappointment in the most recent Prime Minister and current Government in what he feels was a lost opportunity at a critical point of Australia’s economic history, the lack of willingness to introduce tax reform.

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we feltimpelled to present a podcast that keeps you informed of the real discussions happening behind closed doors and along the corridors of power.

In this Episode, Artificial Intelligence & The Future of Work, Blenheim Partners’ Gregory Robinson talks to Michael Priddis, an internationally recognised thought leader on A.I. and the Future of Work. They discuss the impact emerging technologies will have on global economies, business sectors, current workforce structure and the broader society.

Michael has addressed both corporate and government leaders all over the world on this critical topic. In the last two years this has included engagements in New Delhi, Cape Town, Paris, Toronto, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney. He is often invited to contribute on A.I. robotics and advancing technologies in international think tanks as well as industry and news media.

As Chief Executive Officer of Faethm, Michael has overseen the development of the ground breaking product, Faethm.ai, its successful launch in October 2017 and rapid adoption by major multinational companies and governments across the globe to understand the economic impact of technological and digital disruption.

Michael is one of five external members of the global mining and resources giant BHP’s Science and Innovation Council. He has also been asked to participate at the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” event.

Michael shares his insights during a robust discussion where he debunks the falsehoods surrounding the fear of A.I. and provides the good and bad news for all of us at work, the winners and the losers, the pace of change and the need for serious action. (41.31)

Australian of the Year (2017), Professor Alan Mackay-Sim talks to Blenheim Partner’s Gregory Robinson about a shocking personal injury that led him to his ground-breaking work in stem cell research.

As the Director of the National Centre for Adult Stem Cell Research for a decade, Alan’s research has championed the use of stem cells and led to major advances in understanding the biological bases of brain disorders and diseases such as Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s.

In 2014 a Polish medical team put into practice Alan’s research on a man who had become paralysed from the chest down after repeated stab wounds to the back. They achieved the world’s first successful restoration of mobility with the man now walking. This was a giant step in science and has given hope to millions with spinal cord injuries.

Throughout his career Alan has been prepared to take risks and to challenge historical wisdom. It’s an inspirational story from a modern-day pioneer that covers innovation, risk versus reward, leadership and how to keep people motivated – a powerful lesson in courage, determination and resilience for all business leaders.

Join Gregory Robinson and Deborah Thomas from Blenheim Partners Executive Search and Board Advisory as they discuss the current diversity statistics in Australian business and ask why it’s not gaining momentum. Together they examine the current Boardroom dynamics and question why some young executives are choosing to leave promising careers for Non-Executive Director roles.

As executive search professionals they are concerned the traditional succession and diversity planning processes are failing to unearth and promote the tremendous potential in the market and build the future executive pipeline.