Twenty minutes into our interview, David Gonski makes a startling admission -- he's not sure why The Power Index even exists: "Frankly, I don't know what power is ... who's to say if I'm less or more powerful than the man who turns on the lights to let me in the lift each morning?"

It's a curious approach for Australia's leading boardroom fixer, a "Mafia don" who surfs the upper echelons of Australian government and business life like some kind of beneficent deity. Renowned for his mad skills since being crowned a Freehills partner at 25, the Cape Town native insists his power -- if it's real -- is symptomatic of his head-down attitude.