The second coming
JOHN Brogden is one of the few people in recent times to transition from a high-profile role in politics to a high-profile role in business. One of the best examples is former NSW Premier Nick Greiner, a Harvard MBA who has held a wide range of company directorships. Greiner is chair of Bradken, QBE Australia and Accolade Wines. He is deputy chairman of CHAMP Private Equity and chair of the advisory board of Rothschild Australia. Others who have successfully made the transition include former Howard government Minister Warwick Smith, whose long-time interest in China has stood him in a good stead. A former adviser to Macquarie Bank, he is now chairman of ANZ NSW and chair of the advisory group of Kerry Stokes’ private investment company, Australian Equity Group. Former deputy prime minister Mark Vaile is chairman of Whitehaven Coal and a director of Virgin Australia Airlines. Former Queensland Treasurer Keith DeLacy is chairman of Integrated Food and Energy Developments and chaired Macarthur Coal until it was taken over by Peabody Resources in 2011. Former Victoria Premier Steve Bracks is chairman of Cbus, the $17 billion superannuation fund for the construction industry and an adviser to industry fund body, IFM Investors.
Brogden says some boards can be wary of appointing former politicians. The former NSW opposition leader says they can make good lobbyists, as they know how the political process works, but they don’t always make good company directors where a high level of teamwork is required. “When you go from politics into business, you have to realise that nobody is interested in your war stories from politics. They might be interested over a beer or in a taxi to the airport, but they don’t want to hear your war stories in the middle of a strategy session or a board meeting. The staying that will sink most ex-politicians in business is a sentence starting with a quote ‘When I was a minister….”