Damon Thomas, chief executive of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2000, has served as Tasmania’s Ombudsman, Electricity Ombudsman, Freedom of Information Commissioner and Health Complaints Commissioner. His numerous qualifications include a Master of Laws from Queensland University, and he is at present completing a PhD on corporate social responsibility. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
AIM: What is your assessment of levels of transparency in Australia, at corporate and government levels?
Thomas: At a government level, the most dangerous thing is an increasing reliance in some jurisdictions on pleading commercial-in-confidence as a defence. I don’t think this is good because it leads to an increasing cynicism about freedom of information.
But we do have agencies – health and human services and the police – that really take it seriously. They have appointed senior people to run the FOI unit and they treat requests much like a normal agency treats gett
Professor Peter Coaldrake has been deputy vice-chancellor of the Queensland University of Technology since July 1994. Before that he spent just over four years heading the Public Sector Management Commission of the Queensland Government. In 1995, he was a member of the Higher Education Management Review (Hoare) Committee appointed by the Australian Government to examine and improve the management practices of Australian universities. Professor Coaldrake recently returned from five months in the United States as one of two Australian Fulbright Senior Scholars for 2001-02. He examined several aspects of contemporary US higher education policy and practice in terms of their relevance for Australia. He has written several books and refereed journal articles and conference papers.
AIM: What is the best model for a learning institution in the 21st century?
Coaldrake: I am not sure that there is a single model. But at the heart of the matter is the need to strike a proper balance between collegial work and strategic direction and foc
Ian Brown is deputy chief executive of the Insurance Australia Group limited (formerly NRMA Insurance Group). Before joining the Group in 1999, he was managing director of SGIO Insurance Limited. Previous roles include general manager for New Zealand at Security & General Insurance (The Lumley Group) and state general manager Western Australia for QBE Insurance Limited. He is a former president of AIM WA.
AIM: How long did it take for management to get over the ructions that bedevilled NRMA in the past?
Brown: Management has concentrated on the business and left the politics at board level. The focus has never really been off the business. Even during the time when there was disharmony at board level, it was not going down through the organisation.
AIM: What measures have been taken to ensure a smooth working relationship between the board and management?
Brown: Most of the board of IAG are relatively new and are focused on the long-term strategy. The demarcation between that and operations has been clearly d
Paul O’Sullivan has been executive director of Red Cross in New South Wales since February 1999. Before joining Red Cross, he had a career in the army that included service in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Britain and the United States.
AIM: After a long career with the military, why did you choose to go to Red Cross?
O’Sullivan: It is a similar commitment in a different field. Red Cross is in the business of serving the interests of other people, and I felt comfortable about that. And, as most military service people do, I had had a lot of dealings with Red Cross throughout my service career. So, it seemed pretty comfortable and natural to be able to continue with them.
AIM: How have you found the transition to a not-for-profit organisation?
O’Sullivan: Moving into an organisation with an ethos of service made the transition much easier. I didn’t have that steep a learning curve. I was able to step in and get on with it straight away.
AIM: What management skills are needed t
Michael Smith is managing director of The Marketing Centre, a long-established firm consulting on strategy in Perth. He is a past president and national director of the Australian Marketing Institute. He is a recipient of the patron’s medal (HRH Prince Philip) for services to marketing. He is also chairman of Barking Gecko Theatre Company and the West Coast Eagles. He is on the boards of Scotch College and Zipform Pty Ltd. He is also a director of 7-Eleven in Melbourne.
AIM: What are the biggest challenges in marketing now?
Smith: To have a basis of meaningful difference, and sustain it. To understand the value of your brand and how that might be leveraged. And attracting and keeping good marketing talent.
AIM: Why are brand strategies so often regarded as an afterthought in Australia when few managers would disagree that they need to understand customers?
Smith: Because too many companies tend to build their offer for a contestable market from factory capability forwards. So, often, branding can be like pu
Pru Goward was a journalist with the ABC for 19 years before becoming executive director of the Office of the Status of Women and later Commonwealth spokeswoman for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. She was recently appointed sex discrimination commissioner. Pru Goward has written extensively on public policy, government, women and politics. Her latest book, A Business of Your Own (Allen & Unwin) is about 32 of Australia’s most successful businesswomen.
AIM: Do the sexes have a distinct management style, or is it more related to the individual than to gender?
Goward: I haven’t studied the management style of men, so I couldn’t directly answer that. But the women I interviewed for my book were under-confident in their dealings with staff, initially, because they felt that they had to care for each of them personally. They found some things difficult, like telling people they were not up to scratch. They were delighted when they discovered that there was a professional formula for staff management that did not
Mike Zafiropoulos is the general manager of SBS Radio and Television in Melbourne. He started out as a storeman with the Victorian Railways in 1965 and has held various senior positions in the Departments of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs. He has worked as a principal research officer with the Council of the Institute of Multicultural Affairs and as a consultant to the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research. He has a bachelor of applied science certificate (TV production techniques) and a post-graduate diploma (public policy) from the University of Melbourne. His long community involvement has included working as a local government councillor including a stint as mayor of Fitzroy.
Mike Zafiropoulos is the general manager of SBS Radio and Television in Melbourne. He started out as a storeman with the Victorian Railways in 1965 and has held various senior positions in the Departments of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs. He has
Kerry Latter is chief executive of Pioneer Permanent Building Society, a financial institution that has serviced regional Queensland for 30 years. He has held senior roles in finance and service industries and has been a part-time lecturer in management and marketing. He is also a director of the Queensland Association of Permanent Building Societies.
AIM: What are the biggest management challenges facing the finance sector?
Latter: Managing the margin squeeze, and people management. IT systems are also a big challenge, particularly for small institutions that do not enjoy the benefit of economy of scale in purchasing more and more complex systems. Striking the balance between shareholders and customers is important too. We look for sustainable profit rather than profit maximisation.
AIM: Are there particular management challenges to running a building society?
Latter: A building society needs to maintain the personal touch while delivering up-to-the-minute, high-tech solutions for customers. It is about a balanc
Robert Jewkes is the chief executive of Clough Engineering. In 1992 he was posted to Singapore as the group’s regional manager for South-East Asia and returned to Perth three-and-a-half years later as its chief operating officer. He has been CEO since 1998. He is a Fellow of AIM.
AIM: What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in the industry in your 20 years with Clough?
Jewkes: The size and scope of the projects we’re tackling: the way our clients are packaging their work tends to be far bigger in scale and complexity.
It’s happening for all sorts of reasons: management interfaces, finance requirements, and the fact that our clients, far more frequently now, have not got a strong management team of their own, so they’re looking to their contractors and service providers. As a response to that, we have been building full-delivery capability for the past 10-15 years, so that we can look at a project from the concepts at the start and deliver all the way through to the nuts and bolts of t
Trevor Elburn is co-director of the TAE group of companies and has held corporate roles in education and occupational health, and as an executive and consultant in national real estate companies.
AIM: Before you went into the real estate industry, you had roles in education and occupational health. Why the switch?
Elburn: I am not really a real-estate man. I am more of an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word. We have a communications company and we have a real-estate company, Property Management Specialists. My joint managing director and partner is the expert in property management. He does the operational work and I do the entrepreneurial work, which is the developing and strategic planning. It is more an entrepreneurial approach, not a real-estate or communications approach. It is about expansion through strong partnerships, strong strategic alliances and joint ventures that give us minimum risk with maximum opportunity. I also have a firm belief in developing good character in business, rather than a skill set.<