Meet the CFO: Andrew Clark FCPA

Andrew Clark FCPA

An eye for detail and an unwavering concern for safety makes this CFO the perfect fit for aviation rescue.

Airservices Australia provides air traffic control, aviation rescue and firefighting throughout Australia and beyond, managing 11 per cent of the world’s airspace.

Role

I’ve been CFO for seven years, providing financial strategic management. I maintain financial risk oversight and commercial management for all the services we offer.

We’re a Commonwealth corporation, funded from revenue generated from airlines, both domestic and international, that operate within our flight information region.

How he got there

I’ve been in finance since getting out of university, in both the private and public sectors. I’ve always enjoyed the commercial challenge and once you get into finance, it’s hard to get out! I sort of fell into aviation. I was finance director of a private hospital before, which seems like a leap, but there are parallels.

In the health sector, as with aviation, safety is a priority. You rely on strong relationships between the infrastructure provider, operator and ultimately the customer; none of the sectors function well unless they work together.

Organisation

Airservices Australia provides air navigation aviation rescue and firefighting services, and we build and maintain an extensive surveillance, navigation and communication infrastructure network needed to keep Australian airspace safe.

It is a huge piece of airspace – reaching out to the Indian Ocean, up to Asia, across to Papua New Guinea and Fiji, then down to New Zealand and the Antarctic. That’s 11 per cent of the world’s surface. We’re looking after about 90 million passengers flying on more than four million flights each year.

The numbers

Airservices generates A$1 billion annually through airline charges on three main service lines and through a range of property, maintenance and consultancy services. Our annual capex spend is A$250 million, with A$1.1 billion forecast to be spent over the next five years.

We have 29 airport towers and about 26 fire stations, and employ more than 4000 people, which includes around 1000 air traffic controllers and 850 firefighters.

Specific challenges

The main one would be the multiplicity of stakeholders. We work closely with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) – the aviation safety regulator – government, and all participants of a complex value chain. The customer base which we answer to is also large, some 4300, from international airlines moving millions of people globally to the pilot who goes flying on a Sunday.

Lessons learned

Take on the challenges others won’t. Don’t be put off because it’s hard or dirty – it will become an opportunity. If you get bored, get out.

Communicate well and consult widely. You need people’s opinions, especially when there are many stakeholders. Enable change and if you believe in it, don’t let anyone stand in the way. If you think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, chew like crazy!

This article is from the June issue of INTHEBLACK.

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June 2015
June 2015

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