Tanya Cox

3  May 2014 – Jobs on offer right now and coming up won’t include the chief operating officer position at DEXUS after Tanya Cox departs soon to pick up on a board membership career. The position has been filled internally with Craig Mitchell, executive director finance for DEXUS, also taking on the COO role.

At a small drinks function at Green Building Council of Australia offices on Tuesday evening to farewell a founding GBCA board director and long-standing Property Council of Australia chief executive Peter Verwer, Cox mentioned she had recently been forced to knock back some good board roles that simply could not be fitted into her already tight schedule.

That’s understandable. In addition to her GBCA directorship, Cox is currently a director with Low Carbon Australia, Wheelchair Sports Australia and Disability Sports Australia.

Other recent roles have included the NSW Climate Change Advisory Council, the PCA national risk committee, NSW Women in Business Mentor Program. Cox also has a background that includes Rothschild Australia and Bank of New Zealand.

Not surprisingly, Cox had to head back to the office that night.

She wasn’t the only one. Coming out of a board meeting that took the best part of the day were several CEO or similarly senior leaders of some of the industry’s biggest property companies. After chatting amiably for a bit several of them were heading back to work. Among them Stockland’s Mark Steinert, who had to sign off on the not-too-small matter of third quarter reporting the next day. Plus fit in some tough questioning on Stockland’s Australand play on the ABC’s The Business program that evening, we noted.

GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew told The Fifth Estate the calibre of the current board was top drawer. What was impressive, she said, was how seriously these very busy directors took their role; they came having read wads of documents carefully, well briefed and able to ask some piercing questions, referencing documents to back up their queries.

It keeps the team on its toes, she said, but at the same time was reassuring.

Also leaving the GBCA board this week was Rowan Griffin, who is leaving his job as head of sustainability at Colonial First State Global Asset Management and heading to Lend Lease.

His role will be head of sustainability for the investment management division, reporting to Kylie Rampa, who replaced Carmel Hourigan who is now at GPT.

But don’t bother applying for Griffin’s old job. DEXUS in conjunction with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board at the end of last year made a successful takeover bid for Commonwealth Property Australia for which CFSGAM is asset manager.

Griffin starts the new job on 19 May and finishes the old job on 15 May.

So after 17 years, what’s his view on sustainability?

Griffin says the big thing to note is that sustainability is ever more accepted and integrated, even despite the setbacks of the GFC.

“Sustainability uptake has not been going backwards,” he said during a quick phone catch up on Thursday.

“I think it’s increasing; it’s more accepted and I’m delighted to be joining an organisation that’s got it embedded in its culture.

But he admits that during the GFC there was a blip, when the wholesale funds, ever nervous about performance and shareholder value, did drop the ball.

“The wholesale funds were looking for sustainability and output, driven by funds such as Vic Super. Then with the GFC they became so involved in performance and results for their super members that suddenly it didn’t feature as strongly and they dropped the ball in my view.”

This was about the same time the analysts who worked on listed vehicles were doing the reverse, “picking up the ball and saying, ‘Actually we should be acting on sustainability.’ Now it’s changed back again; and the super funds are back into sustainability again.”

Griffin points to the number of CEOs who now devote their time to sit on the GBCA board as evidence that sustainability is indeed back.

Big news from IAG

After being a leader in the field and then… ahem, dropping the ball somewhat, Insurance Australia Group now looks like it’s back in the sustainability game with its recent advertisement seeking a head of group shared value, which we hear has all the leading susty leaders in Sydney atwitter.

“An exciting opportunity exists for an action oriented, strategic senior people leader to take responsibility for our Group Shared Value across IAG,” the ad says.

The passionate folk say this external signal to the market is positive proof and it backs a lot of internal work we hear the group has been engaged in to get back on track.

The job description includes to “manage a team accountable for developing our shared value and sustainability strategy with a focus on helping communities to be safer, stronger and more confident”.

Good news from an outfit that previously employed leaders such as Sam Mostyn and Amanda Steele.

Other jobs

A quick roundup of other jobs on offer includes Sustainability Victoria, which is looking for a media adviser.

Emphasised for the job role is to help position SV as “a credible and authoritative voice on integrated waste management and resource efficiency”.

City of Melbourne is looking for a business development senior sustainability manager.

And at the Monash Sustainability Institute is on the search for a new director to replace David Griggs. The contact, Professor Edwina Cornish, is on +61 3 9902 9468.

This article has also been published in News from the front desk: Issue 189