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Geelong Advertiser Opinion Piece - Everyone has the ability to make a difference

Geelong's business and community leaders should focus on economic leadership if they want our city to become the world-class place we all want it to be.

This advice comes from one of Australia's most respected and successful business leaders, Richard Goyder AO - the guest speaker at the Committee for Geelong's recent Annual Leadership Breakfast.

To attract to Geelong one of the country's best business innovators was a genuine coup for our city.

Currently, Mr Goyder is the Chairman of the Australian Football League (AFL), a Director and Chairman-elect for Woodside and Director on the Board of Qantas Airways.

The self-proclaimed "farm boy from Tambellup, Western Australia", Mr Goyder has led an outstanding career - most notably leading Wesfarmers for 12 years as Managing Director and CEO and chairing the B20 committee ahead of meeting global leaders at the 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane.

In his speech, Mr Goyder focussed on the Committee for Geelong's objective to leverage the economic potential of our city-region to make Geelong a world-class place.

"In my view the economy is fundamental to every thing we do whether we're talking about football teams, regions, companies," he told over 300 guests gathered at The Pier.

Mr Goyder's comments were consistent with the Committee's research report -Winning from the Second - What Geelong can learn from International Second Cities.

One of the recommendations out of that report was to create a unified and co-ordinated approach to economic development for Geelong, in order to provide united advocacy and greater outcomes for our city-region.

Mr Goyder also described Wesfarmers as a "great case study in economic leadership", a point that he believes is relevant to Geelong.

"[Wesfarmers has] been a very innovative and entrepreneurial company," he said.

"If any one of us had been smart enough to invest $1,000 in Wesfarmers in 1984 [when it was listed] that would now be worth over $300,000 compared to about $27,000 if you had invested in the ASX All Ordinaries."

Mr Goyder said this success would not have been possible without clear objectives, good governance, a cognitive farming background, understanding that cash flow and a strong balance sheet matters, and having the ability to block out "noise".

He said he also had a strong focus on investing in people. All those elements combined, he said, can secure economic performance.

"If you get [economic] performance, you then get support from your shareholders if you are a company, or your stakeholders if you are a community, and support from your suppliers, your customers, your staff and importantly the community," he said.

Mr Goyder reflected on his personal leadership journey, saying his greatest piece of advice was to always be yourself and be open to learning, improvement and constructive criticism.

"Back yourself. Follow your instincts, because they are often right," he said.

"Take time to think, time to work through and take calculated risks.

"And when you do make a mistake be prepared to face it and front up and learn from it."

The Committee for Geelong is committed to nurturing the next generation of business and community leaders, as demonstrated by our current leadership programs, Leaders for Geelong and the Activate Leadership program. We too believe that leaders in our city-region should always be open to learn and grow professionally.

Mr Goyder closed his address by recalling his time as chair of the B20 advisory group for the 2014 G20 Summit.

Sitting at a table of global leaders, next to former US President Barack Obama and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Mr Goyder presented the Australian B20's recommendations on promoting global economic growth. He said all the recommendations were accepted.

Mr Goyder's final and humble words of advice, specifically to Geelong's business community, were that although it's important to demand that leaders lead, everyone has the ability to make a difference.



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