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.

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