Interview with Rod Walker, the new chairman at Lakeba

Rod Walker

When I shake his hand, it is strong.

Today it is my great pleasure to meet the new Board Chairman for Lakeba Group, Rod Walker. He has worked in hospitality and retail businesses for many years before recently shifting his focus to consulting and advisory work. His professional profile clearly shows that Rod has a great depth of experience in many different industries, but it is only when I meet him in person and experience that strong handshake that I understand why he is a real leader.

Thanks to his broad experience and strong communication skills, not to mention his amateur boxing skills, Rod has been able to change the destiny of many businesses by giving a new perspective on how they could improve, and by driving change with the strength of his character.

Why did you join Lakeba as board Chairman?

“Throughout my career I have looked beyond simple company size and stage of development before making my decision to join a company’s Board” explained Rod “My decision is based more on the CEO’s vision and the nature of the company in terms of opportunities, potential and culture”.

“When I first met Giuseppe and Darren, I immediately saw tremendous opportunities for the company and thought I would be able to assist them in delivering their vision. I am very hands-on rather than just a once-a-month Director”

Rod has travelled all over the world, but he has ended up back in Australia: “Having travelled the world I now realise that there are amazing business opportunities right here in Australia, together with a good balance between work and personal life”.

Rod Walker

Why have you built a career as a professional Board Director?

“When I was young, I used to stay with my father in his office. He was the CEO of the company, and I remember asking him one day what he did there – and I have never forgotten his answer – ‘I make decisions all day, and if I make the right decisions the business will improve, and we can go on holidays and I can guarantee you a better education. If I am wrong, none of that will happen’. From that moment I realised that I wanted to do the same in my career: make decisions”.

What in your opinion makes a business successful?

“Any business can be successful if the CEO is surrounded by great people, both on the Board and on the shop floor. It is all about team work and using the best skills available in that team to achieve great goals. However, good leadership is an essential element for getting better business results”.

“In my experience, Australian companies can be too conservative when they should be thinking more innovatively and take some calculated risks. That’s probably what makes Lakeba an exception to the rule. I am very excited to start this new challenge with Giuseppe and Darren and the whole Lakeba team”.

What is the professional result you are most proud of?

“I would probably say the first one. I was involved in the process that led Freedom Group to become private again. It took many years to complete the process, but it happened through a lot of hard work, determination and great team work!”.

Rod is not only a successful businessman – he is also heavily involved in not for profit organizations and humanitarian causes. He is also a successful (and formidable) amateur boxer, recently breaking the world record for the longest boxing match in history by going 127 rounds over more than 8 hours to raise funds for charity. His passion for boxing reflects the determination and sense of discipline that he also uses at work.

For all of these reasons we are very excited to welcome Rod Walker to Lakeba and we look forward to giving you regular updates on the progress of our company and of all its various ventures.

Background

Rod Walker has had over thirty years’ experience in a variety of businesses, working in Australia, the USA and Canada. Current and previous roles include serving on the board of Godfreys, Rebel Sport, REDGroup Retail, Bras ‘N Things, The PAS Group, Immune System Therapeutics, Witchery, Endless Rewards, Micador and The CEO Circle. He has led these companies through major acquisitions, mergers, record results and in some cases successful exits whilst also working with the CEOs on their personal development. Additionally he has presented to a variety of groups and forums on a range of business related topics. Prior to 2005, he was Managing Director of the Freedom Group. At that time Freedom had over 240 stores in the Group with six brands in three countries. Rod led the Group to record results and subsequently privatized the company.