The fiery management style of Ian Smith ultimately proved a little too explosive for dynamite manufacturer, Orica.
Still, it’s not like the company did not know what it was in for when it employed the former Newcrest boss as a ‘change agent’ three years ago.
“If you have got an issue, confront it, wrestle it, pin it to the ground,” the Broken Hill-born Smith said in his chapter of Unearthing Wisdom, a tome containing the thoughts and wisdom of 20 mining industry leaders.
“Be confrontational when you see people are not applying their capabilities to the utmost,” is another weighty piece of advice from Smith who got the bullet from his chairman, Russell Caplan, after a rather volcanic meeting with his investor relations head, Karen McRae.
Smith might have to update another line from the book where he says he has been field-tested “through nearly every catastrophic event you can think of, and survived”.
Arvi’s Wrong ‘un
Unearthing Wisdom was commissioned by head hunter Swann Global to mark its 20 year involvement with the mining industry – hence the 20 mining industry veterans interviewed.
True to its mining theme, the book came in a year late and over budget, according to a speech given by mining veteran, Ian Cockerill.
But it is hard to beat Sir Arvi Parbo’s speech which helped launch the book in Melbourne last year.
“What worked well in a given situation in the past is not necessarily translatable into other circumstances. As an example: in my time in the industry, in today’s terms I did everything wrong,” the mining industry legend said.
“I worked for the same company for 43 years, was both the Chairman and Managing Director for 15 years and, on retirement as an executive, continued as the non-executive Chairman for a further nine years. These would all be shooting offences today but there was worse: for a period I was at the same time the Chairman of three major companies in the same industry,” he said.
“Unthinkable today, but as recently as 15 years ago no-one, including corporate regulators, shareholder associations, media, or anybody else saw any problems with this, and in the then environment there weren’t any problems.”
Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti has bought many interesting items in his life – budget airline, Tigerair, and scores of classic cars including a 1962 Porsche 356B. But an oil refinery?
Borghetti was asked at a business lunch in Sydney on Wednesday whether he had any interest in following in the footsteps of Virgin’s alliance partner, Delta Air Lines. The American airline decided a few years to buy its own oil refinery because it was sick of oil companies slapping large margins on the conversion of crude to jet fuel.
The Pennsylvania refinery now accounts for 75 per cent of Delta’s fuel needs in the US.
While pointing out that there is a refinery at Kurnell near Sydney Airport that his planes fly over every day, the Italian stallion made clear that he has no plans to buy it from Caltex.
“I have got my hands full with what I have got,” he said.
Borghetti might be missing a bargain given Caltex is in the process of closing the Kurnell refinery.
Besides, there is the small matter of the fuel bills for his warehouse full of vintage cars to think about.
David Jones boss, Ian Nairn, was sporting the latest autumn look at the retail property shindig, SCN Big Guns lunch – a tan, no tie, and one missing shoe.
The latter was making room for a moon boot, making him the latest victim of misadventure from Woolies South Africa empire.
Woolies South Africa boss, Ian Moir, was battling with back surgery last year as he battled Solomon Lew for control of David Jones and Country Road.
Moir then failed to make it to the Woolies AGM in November after injuring both legs in a fall in Sydney earlier that month while inspecting the new acquisitions.
Back to Nairn, he was sharing beef and blue-eyed cod with retail property royalty like John Gowing – the last of the dynasty to preside over the Sydney retailer institution.
The table also included Coles property guru, Sam Pinchbeck, and Topshop director David Slade.
Don’t bank on it
The Commonwealth Bank has finally revealed what sort of fraud gets it so fired up that the bank is prepared to take the matter to the police.
Keith Hunter, the former Commonwealth Bank executive who has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges on Wednesday, was dobbed in by his former employer.
“CBA reported this matter to the NSW Police and we will continue to fully co-operate while the investigation continues,” a bank spokesman said.
So what makes this case different to the wealth management fiasco which ripped off clients? CBD hasn’t noticed any reporting to the police on that front.
Hunter, and another former executive, allegedly received kickbacks from a US-based IT company in return for not putting a lucrative contract to public tender.
“We have no tolerance for any illegal activity by any employee and we take every situation seriously,” said the bank, which added “no customer has been affected by this matter.”
This means that, unlike the wealth management fiasco, it was the bank who suffered from this alleged fraud.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.