Narelle Hooper, Editor of AFR Boss magazine in conversation with Elmer Funke Kupper, CEO of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), an exclusive Australian School of Business Alumni event July 5.
As he approaches the end of his first year as CEO of the ASX, Elmer Funke Kupper spoke to an audience of 400 ASB alumni about his leadership style and the defining moments of his career.
Hailing from The Netherlands, Funke Kupper's career in Australia began with several senior positions at ANZ, including a role on the bank's management board which he secured at just thirty-one years of age. Funke Kupper said his appointment as Head of Risk Management at ANZ just one month before the Asian financial crisis hit was a defining moment in his career.
"It didn't look like that at the time, but when I reflected on it, it was my 'big break'. When you're the head of risk management and everything is going fine, you don't know if you're doing a good job. When things go wrong, you have the opportunity to show that you can manage," he said.
After ten years at ANZ, Funke Kupper took a position at Tabcorp and successfully led its de-merger into the gaming company and its casino arm, Echo Entertainment - thereby doing himself out of a job.
"It was probably one of the best things I've ever done for my career. You've always got to do the right thing by the company without thinking about what it means for you. If you do that, it will be recognised."
Now as CEO for the Australian Securities Exchange, he believes his task is to raise the profile of the ASX in the media and influence policy makers to ensure the company can leverage the opportunities presented by the increasingly globalised economy. He said the company runs very well on its own and his role as CEO is about "creating the conditions for success- where large numbers of people can be successful."
"Leadership isn't about what you do - it's about how people experience what you do. It's about knowing what each person needs and giving them what they need to succeed. Leadership is about choosing your style to the situation or the people you're dealing with."
In the rapidly shifting global economy, he said keeping on top of new technology and anticipating change are imperative - as is being a socially aware organisation.
"Dealing with complexity and thinking ahead is incredibly important. As is becoming a more human organisation. The trick is to be hard-nosed in business and be human about it - all the while thinking through complex problems."
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