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7 Questions with Fergus
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7 Questions with Fergus
Current title: Chairman
Current organisation: WattsCorp
Fergus started working life as a professional AFL footballer. Drafted in the 2003 National Draft at pick 14. After a significant run of injuries, Fergus was left unable to play the game at the highest level.
At 22yo Fergus founded the leading independent marketing agency network Bastion Collective. Started from his living room with zero experience or investment, Bastion is now the largest independent agency network in Australia, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles and New York.
Fergus' active roles currently are Chairman of Bastion Collective, Chairman of comparison as a service technology business Smartme, and also sits on the board of Directors for The Reach Foundation.
1. What have you found most challenging as a board member?
The most challenging thing about being a board member, is being able to get the amount of relevant information required to be able to make the right governance decisions about the business. At the same time finding the balance between asking enough relevant questions and not being over burdensome to the Executives. I believe the role of the board is to ask enough questions and gather enough information to be comfortable to support the CEO in their strategy and not get in the way. This is a challenge to get right.
2. How did you become a board member? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Most of the boards I have sat on are companies I have started, acquired or invested in. In regards to the Reach Foundation board, I was an old Reach Alumni and asked back to sit on the board
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am more about structuring my week, than each specific day. I Chair two boards and sit on two others. Non Exec life means there are slow days and very big days within each week. I ensure that I leave enough space in the week to deal with issues as they arise, and minimise any recurring meeting that isn't completely crucial to the success of the business. No meetings for the sake of it
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Leadership is about being able to support and guide those you are working with to maximise their potential. Personal ambition is achieved if you lead well, but should never be the driver
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a organisation?
Don't over do it! Extra committees to discuss findings at other committees are time suckers and not helpful. Good governance is ensuring you can get the maximum amount of information on the key areas requiring oversight, in the shortest amount of time. Outside of that, let the executive do their job
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a organisation?
Very simply. The board is there to think, analyse, challenge and guide. The Executive is there to actually do the work and implement what they say they will do
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member so far?
I have learnt a lot over the last decade of sitting on boards within my organisations. Getting frustrated or emotional serves no purpose. The board's primary role is to choose the CEO. If they are not the right person for the job or not leading the company well, then it is your fault. Getting frustrated doesn't help. Make the hard decision and move on in the best interests of the company.