Au Revoir from our long-term CEO
5 Jul 2016
After sixteen years as your CEO I am soon to hand over to Mr Adam Davey who I know will bring new perspectives and enthusiasm to the CEO appointment. It has been a huge honour to have been your CEO and an amazing life-changing period of my life which I would not have missed for anything.
There is no doubt in my mind, that the journey as CEO of the Churchill Trust has been a totally enriching one. It is impossible to serve an organisation like the Trust without it having a major impact and influence on one’s personal life as well. It has been a unique journey and a wonderful privilege to lead this inspirational institution. By working with the Board and my colleagues at National Office, we have built on previous foundations and I think I leave the Trust in a very strong and well respected position.
This is especially so as we move past the Trust’s 50th Anniversary year and forward into our next fifty years, towards our century. I have no doubt we will get there. My certainty is based on the calibre of Churchill Fellows, on the energy and efficiency of the Board and the National Office staff, and most importantly, on the inspiration and matchless reputation lent to us by working in the name of Sir Winston Churchill.
On this last point, I have commented on many occasions, that we must not forget the namesake of the Churchill Trust, Sir Winston Churchill, the individual. The Trust, after all, was established to commemorate and honour his memory and to send Australians overseas as Fellows - and in Churchill’s name - to acquire knowledge for the benefit of Australia. Churchill’s best characteristics of courage, determination and clear vision remain very relevant for us today in helping Australia and the world face up to the many demanding challenges which we face. Indeed, Churchill remains a wellspring of example and inspiration.
In Dr Penny Hanley’s 50th Anniversary book, ‘Inspiring Australians: The First Fifty Years of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust’, Graham Freudenberg writes that, ‘Winston Churchill’s reputation, like his career, had more ups and downs than most great figures in history. But more than any, except perhaps Abraham Lincoln, the significance of his achievement is renewed with each change in historical perspective, and with each new setting of the human condition. And this is mainly because he was so gloriously right on the One Big Thing when it counted most, at a supreme crisis for civilisation.’ It is especially this which will ensure that Churchill’s name and reputation lives on and in fact will continue to grow in stature and glory.
In this, my final message as CEO, I would like to acknowledge my pleasure in working with what has always been a remarkable Board. During these sixteen years of involvement, I have been constantly reminded of the strength and power of collective wisdom and judgements which come about through trust with others, the willingness to listen and share experiences, with the common intention to select the very best Churchill Fellows. The Directors with whom I have worked are, without exception, incredibly talented and gifted individuals who are also very influential in their areas of expertise. A collegial atmosphere has always been a hallmark of the Churchill Trust Board. It has been my privilege to serve such a Board.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as CEO for a number of reasons. The principal one is having become deliberately and closely involved in the selection of our Churchill Fellows and seeing how they enrich the social fabric of the Australian community. This has been a source of immense personal satisfaction. I see this enrichment of the social fabric as the remarkable consequence of the noble objective of the Trust, and I have enjoyed providing my small contribution to that end. The interview days were always a highlight for me given the passion, inspiration and optimism they create. I will be sorry to leave this experience and interaction behind.
The Churchill Fellows are, after all, what the Trust is all about. I remain in awe of what the Churchill Fellows have achieved, and their enthusiasm and passion will always inspire me.
In my time as CEO, I have been fortunate enough to have participated in over 3,000 individual interviews spread over 100 applicant interview sessions, many lasting over two days. I have also witnessed the Board approve 1,837 Churchill Fellowships. This represents a large percentage of the now over 4,000 Fellowships awarded by the Trust during its 50 year history.
I will be forever grateful and indebted to my colleagues at National Office who have put up with me on a day-to-day basis for these sixteen years! These colleagues are also incredibly gifted and talented hard-working professionals who have always protected me from my moments of madness and pulled me back into line when necessary. They deserve all the accolades possible for the smooth running of the Trust over a very long period of time - thank you!
It has also been my pleasure to work with the Regional Secretaries and the Churchill Fellows’ Associations (CFAs) in each State and Territory. Many of the Regional Secretaries have become close personal friends and I will be forever grateful for their dedication and hard work in operating at the front line of the Trust. I am also delighted to be able to comment that there exists a very close relationship between the CFAs and National Office and this is to be applauded. I have always regarded the CFAs as a very important and vital organisational component of the Trust. I will miss the camaraderie associated with the CFAs who always made my wife Lori and me feel so welcome.
I am very proud to have been the CEO of the Churchill Trust. It has been a privilege leading and serving such a wonderful institution and to meet the talented and deserving Australians who each year become our new Churchill Fellows. In doing so I think I have followed in the footsteps of the Trust’s earlier CEOs who have served the Trust with dedication and distinction. I will leave it to others to judge my performance.
My wife, Lori, joins me in thanking all of you who have made the last sixteen years such a memorable, rewarding and unforgettable journey. We will always be great Ambassadors for the Trust and will continue to watch its continuing progress and development with great interest. I wish Adam Davey all the very best and hope that his time at the Trust is as exciting and satisfying as mine has been.
Chief Executive Officer
Photo above provided courtesy of Christine Glenister and Associates Public Relations and Marketing