Global supply-chain logistics giant Brambles.
In the beginning
My family came from Macedonia in 1969 and I grew up in Wollongong [south of Sydney].
After high school I started an accounting cadetship with BHP Steel. In 1996 I moved to Melbourne – out of Wollongong, but still with BHP – into a completely different industry – oil and gas.
I did external international financial reporting, everything from US SEC to UK GAAP and Australian GAAP reporting.
I moved around with BHP, then came back to Australia in 2009 as CFO of Oil Search, which had projects in Papua New Guinea.
My job covers all the traditional CFO responsibilities including treasury, investor relations, capital markets, financial controlling, tax, risk and insurance.
I also have company secretarial and mergers and acquisitions functions.
We have a finance section of 750-800 people around the globe and operate in more than 55 countries.
Brambles has a market capitalisation of A$15 billion, with annual revenue in excess of US$5 billion and a capital allocation budget of about US$1 billion. Brambles is headquartered in Sydney and listed on the ASX, but 92 per cent of our business is outside Australia. That means you can spend quite a bit of time in early morning or late-night video conferences – or on a plane.
I’m probably out of the country more than half the time at the moment.
Joining the team
I started at Brambles 19 months ago, after being at Oil Search for three years.
Brambles is an iconic Australian brand. I’m pretty sold on the culture, which is more operational than corporate.
It’s very collegiate, about performance and delivery – and one of the least political environments I’ve encountered.
Moving to London in 2003 [with BHP] was a tremendous career move. It was the first time I’d lived outside Australia.
I focused on business development and new acquisitions, particularly in emerging markets in North Africa, Russia and Latin America. It was a good educational and personal development opportunity.
Then I became CFO of BHP’s energy business in 2005, based in Houston, Texas – a truly global role and a rapidly growing piece of the overall BHP group.
I will always take on a challenge, but there have been instances when I’ve been happy to take a sideways move. Before my London position, I’d actually held a larger role – in terms of scope and revenue – in Australia. The London opportunity was considered a smaller role, but as I’d never lived and worked overseas, it was great.
With Brambles operating in so many countries and emerging markets, there’s certainly a lot of overlap now.
During Brambles’ investment market briefing in December 2013, we spoke about five-year targets, about growing our top line by 7-9 per cent and increasing return on capital to 20 per cent. [But] our business is critical to the supply chain of our clients.
Whatever we do, we’re always focused on making sure we never adversely impact our customers. We’re always thinking how to drive scale, how we build capability across the globe.
This article is from the June 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.