"My name is synonymous with hard work. That’s all I offer -- hard work."
That's David Gonski's assessment to The Power Index
on what makes him so influential in Australian life. But, of course, it's a little more than that.
Gonski rejects the crown we bestow on him today -- Australia's most powerful business director. But the modesty, however false, belies his resume. He doesn't sit on the boards of the biggest ASX entities (though he has in the past), but it's his relationships with some of the country's richest and most powerful people, his advocacy for corporate causes, and his reach into areas outside business -- from arts bodies to professional firms, regulatory authorities and government policy -- that puts him ahead of the rest.
The 10 directors we've profiled
are all savvy business operatives who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder to steer much of the country's wealth. But what we've learned is who they know is at least as important as what they know. Gonski plays down the "directors' club" theory, but says tellingly:
"The outsider, the person they don't know, has to prove themselves … sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn't."
Few take the risk, enshrining the power of Gonski and directors like him.