Encouraging future leaders to be curious and open-minded

Tuesday, 2 February 2021  @Business School

​Recognising esteemed UNSW Business School alumni in 2021 Australia Day Honours

This year, Mr Kerry Roxburgh and Mr Ross Smyth-Kirk have more in common than being recognised for this prestigious award. With an AGSM MBA degree and UNSW Bachelor of Commerce degree respectively, these alumni from different fields have a message for future business leaders.

“I think it’s very important for future leaders to think for themselves and never just believe things because of what you are told,” said Mr Smyth-Kirk, who was awarded with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for significant service to business and to the community.

Mr Roxburgh agrees, “The most important thing is to have an open mind and be curious, but to allow for a diversity of views and respectful debate before you finally settle on your own views.” 

As a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) recipient for significant service to the financial sector and to women in business, Mr Roxburgh continues, “I would also say to do what you enjoy because that’s what you’ll be best at and if you are not enjoying it, do something else.”

Mr Kerry Roxburgh

With over 50 years of experience in financial services, Mr Roxburgh is most proud of being the CEO of E*TRADE Australia and subsequent Non-Executive Chairman until it was acquired by the ANZ Bank in 2007, and for bringing online stockbroking to Australia. He is a Practitioner Member of the Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association and Chairman of the Eclipx Group Ltd, which is one of Australia’s leading motor vehicle fleet leasing companies.

For 22 years, until 2019, he served as the Lead Independent Non-Executive Director of Ramsay Health Care, growing the business from roughly $200 million in market capitalisation to well over $14 billion. He is currently interested in blockchain and disruption in the field of FinTech and biotech and is chairing a bid under the Federal Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) grant scheme for Australian research into blockchain and the trust economy.

When asked about embarking on his AGSM MBA journey he stated, “I selected the AGSM because it had the best MBA course available in Sydney and I’m so pleased that I did. It broadened my education beyond finance, economics, statistics and accounting and that is exactly what I wanted.”

Mr Roxburgh said his most valuable course was one with Professor Wilfred Jarvis in Behavioural Science.

“The course was all about group behaviour – how to get groups aligned and hitting in the same direction to complete a task, run a business or achieve the results you are looking for.”

Women in Business

Mr Roxburgh also received recognition for his contribution to women in business.

“From my very first working day in the accounting world, I’ve always been conscious of making sure that there’s a strong representation of gender based on merit,” he said. “When I’m part of a committee, I will call out if I feel there’s not a proper balance in terms of gender representation and I will advocate for appointments to leadership roles.”

Mr Ross Smyth-Kirk

Mr Smyth-Kirk describes his time earning his Bachelor of Commerce from UNSW Business School as “one of the best times in my life.”

With a strong interest in mining combined with connections from his work in the 1980s and 1990s as an investment manager and professional investor, he was introduced to a company called Kingscote Consolidated that had promising gold exploration areas in Thailand.

“I thought it was one of the best start-up opportunities that I had seen,” said Mr Smyth-Kirk, “so I invested in that.”

He went on to join the Board and eventually become the Chairman. In 2001, Kingscote Consolidated started production and became a very successful gold and silver mining operation that lasted 16 years. Mr Smyth-Kirk was also Chairman at the Australian Jockey Club for two years.

However, when asked about his successes, Mr Smyth-Kirk said family is most important: “I still believe my main successes are getting married and the birth of my two beautiful children,” he said.

He is also proud to be an alumnus of UNSW Business School and of his generous contribution to the Scientia building on campus.

Further Congratulations

The AGSM @ UNSW Business School would also like to congratulate Mr Christopher Hancock in receiving the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to education and online research networks and to Australia-USA relations.

We are proud to count each of you among our esteemed alumni.

For a list of all Australia Day 2021 Honours UNSW Alumni click here.

For more information about AGSM @ UNSW Business School, click here.

encouraging-future-leaders-to-be-curious-and-open-minded