2017 Beacon Award
Rob Campbell says that his business philosophy “is of being open to impermanence.” His own life is a study of that condition. He qualified with a BA(Hons) in Economic History and Political Science and then an MPhil in Economics. In the 1970’s he was a leading activist in the Union movement and by the 80’s seemed destined to reach the very top of organised labour. However being appointed to the boards of Government owned organisations started to bring about a change in outlook.
Rob worked largely out of public sight until elected to the GPG board during a shareholder revolt in 2011. He has since taken several high profile directorships, each in a very different segment. That suits Rob, who is known for his ability to identify the big issues and bring a keen and deeply enquiring mind to the task.
The Beacon Award guidelines talks about bravery in standing out from the crowd on issues that are controversial, about being respectful of owners and ensuring fair and equitable outcomes. NZSA has given Rob this award, not just because of the strong performance of listed companies he Chairs, nor even his demonstrated ability to manage assets, build organisational capabilities or bring needed change. Rather, it is for his willingness to speak out on issues without fear or favour. His comments around directors needing to take a more hands on approach, to manage the managers, to not be tick box governors, the limited imagination of some boards and the disconnect between reality and how bankers and finance professionals are remunerated may not be universally applauded. But all are pertinent and encourage necessary dialogue and debate.
Rob has spoken about directorships requiring a holistic approach. NZSA believes his career has demonstrated exactly that, and as a consequence, he is a worthy winner of the 2017 Beacon Award.