"Honour the history of the Fund": Q&A with outgoing Qantas Super Chair Anne Ward February 2019
After 15 years as chair of Qantas Super, we ask professional company director Anne Ward to name the highlights of her tenure and some advice for her successor. We also discover why she chooses the boards she does, about her childhood vineyard, and a little something most people wouldn't know about her.
- Can you name some of the highlights or milestones of your time with QANTAS Super?
Over 15 years, there have been many highlights. A series of decisions by the Trustee, including outsourcing administration, outsourcing insurance and focusing on the efficiency of investment operations, have really set the Fund up for a sustainable, successful future. The failed takeover bid for Qantas in 2007 was an interesting time. At a personal level, the opportunity to work alongside leaders of the stature of Alan Joyce, Sir Peter Cosgrove and Paul Costello has been very rewarding.
- …and some words of wisdom/advice for your successor?
First, honour the history of the Fund. Qantas Super celebrates its 80th birthday this year, whilst Qantas turns 100 in 2020. These are remarkable achievements. Second, respect the culture, which is all about serving our members. Third, trust your colleagues around the Trustee board table – they have a wealth of knowledge and skills which will ensure the ongoing success of the Fund.
- You serve on a wonderfully eclectic range of boards including CFS, online artists' marketplace Redbubble, MYOB and, until recently, Zoos Victoria. What is it that you look for when choosing a company director role?
I look for strong businesses which are leaders in their category and I look for companies where I feel I can add value. If those boxes are ticked, I then look at the quality of the people, both board and management. Over my career I have learned that no matter what industry you are in, it all comes down to the quality of the people.
- Are you looking for any new board director roles?
Yes, I will look to take on another directorship when the right opportunity comes along.
- Your first career was as a commercial lawyer. What drew you to the field of law and what prompted you to leave it after 28 years?
I became a lawyer because I am a problem solver and I love being able to help companies solve complex business problems. I left the law in order to do what I am doing now – serving on a number of boards across a range of industries as a professional director.
- Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up on a vineyard in country Victoria where my father grew table grapes. My pocket money was earned crawling around under the vines in the height of summer, filling dip tins for 10c each. It was remote and isolated and I ran fairly free with my brothers. It was a wonderful childhood.
- What is something that most people wouldn't know about you?
I have run a marathon. Whilst I’m exceptionally proud of that achievement, I don’t think I will run another.