Paul Freer – Former COO of Collection House Limited

Paul Freer Taking the road less travelled – Paul Freer, Former COO of Collection House Limited, talks going global & leading with insight & integrity.

Paul Freer is an experienced CEO, COO and executive business leader in the banking and financial sector. Paul has extensive experience in leading financial services organisations and has enjoyed a global career, including roles in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and the United States. Most recently, Paul was Chief Operating Officer with Collection House Limited, an ASX listed company. Paul led five operating business units within Australia as well as units in the Philippines and New Zealand.

Born in the UK in small town Taplow, Paul was educated at the local state school before deciding to leave school early, at age 16. A career in banking soon beckoned and Paul entered a training program at Barclays bank, where he learnt on the job while completing his tertiary education in financial services at The University of West London. Later, Paul completed executive development courses at Harvard Business School and London Business School, is an associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Cutting his teeth as a junior officer and teller, Paul spent 17 years with Barclays working his way up to become a Managing Director in the corporate banking sector, in roles which took Paul to challenging locations such as The Seychelles and Africa. Paul has also previously worked for Lloyds Bank, National Commercial Bank and Alquity Group. Paul has decided to call Australia home and lives in Brisbane with his wife and young children.


Paul on LinkedIn

Barclays Bank

Harvard Business School

London Business School

Chartered Bankers Institute

Australian Institute of Company Directors

Alquity Group

Lloyds Bank

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Jeff Forbes – Non Executive Director & Former CFO of Cardno Limited

Former CFO of Cardno Limited & Non Executive Director Jeff Forbes, on his Portfolio Career, Having No Regrets and Seizing Opportunity.

A desire for a change of direction saw Jeff retire from his role as CFO of Cardno Limited in 2013. Since then, Jeff has stayed busy as a Non Executive Director and Chairman of a broad range of organisations and not-for-profits across different industries. Presently, Jeff is a Non Executive Director of Cardno, PWR Holdings, Horizon Housing and Heron Todd White Australia.  He has previously worked as a NED for Affinity Education Group and Exoma Energy, among others.

Jeff grew up as the eldest of three siblings in Cardiff NSW, where he attended the local state high school. He has a Bachelor of Commerce in economics and accounting from the University of Newcastle, which he completed part-time while undertaking a cadetship in marketing at Commonwealth Steel. It wasn’t long before Jeff found his niche in accounting, relocating to Townsville for a role with Queensland Nickel, the rest, as they say, is history.

Jeff is a highly skilled Finance Executive and Company Director with over 30 years of merger and acquisition, equity and capital markets and project development experience. Jeff has extensive expertise in the financing and development of resource projects in both Australia and in the Asia Pacific Region. Prior to first joining Cardno in 2006, Jeff was the CFO, Company Secretary and Executive Director at Highlands Pacific Limited, and has also worked for a number of prominent companies including RTZ (now Rio Tinto), BHP and CSR.

Jeff lives with his wife in Queensland’s beautiful Noosa Heads, where he enjoys the outdoors, staying active and spending time with his children and grandchildren.


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Maxine Horne – CEO – Vita Group Limited

Self Confessed Challenger, Maxine Horne – CEO of Vita Group – on Being a Shadow Leader and Why it Pays to put People First.

I was particularly excited to feature Maxine Horne on the Arete Podcast. Maxine’s story is both fascinating and inspiring, one that sees her relocate from the UK to Australia and grow a single retail store into Australia’s largest technology business.

Maxine is the founder and CEO of the publicly listed Vita Group, which boasts over 1600 staff and an annual revenue in excess of $600 million. In a pioneering move, in 1995, Maxine established Fone Zone on the Gold Coast, one of Australia’s first mobile retailers. After its 2005 ASX listing, Vita Group became one of the fastest-growing companies in Australia and was ranked in BRW’s Fast 100 over four consecutive years.

Martin Moore – CEO – CS Energy

Martin Moore HeadshotMartin Moore – CEO – CS Energy

Martin Moore is Chief Executive Officer of CS Energy, a merchant generator which owns, operates and trades electricity from a portfolio of power station assets. CS Energy’s assets are valued at approximately $2bn, with annual revenues of around $600m.

Martin has forged a successful career working for a range of blue chip companies across multiple industries. He is known as a courageous leader with outstanding business acumen, and is attracted to businesses in turnaround.

In a career spanning almost. 30 years, Martin has held senior executive roles in Sales and Marketing, Finance, Strategy, and IT.

Prior to joining CS Energy, Martin spent five years at Aurizon (formerly QR National), where he was an integral part of the executive team that took the company to one of the largest and most successful IPOs in Australian corporate history.

Martin holds an Executive MBA from the Brisbane Graduate School of Business (QUT), and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

CS Energy website:



Matthew Michalewicz – CEO – Complexica

Matthew MichalewiczThere is no doubting Matthew Michalewicz’s pedigree in business. During this episode of The Arete Podcast, I explore how Matthew, an only child of parents living in communist Poland, grew up to be named in Business Journal’s “40 under 40” list of high achieving young business leaders.

Matthew’s current role as CEO of his new firm Complexica sees him working alongside his father, who is a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. Matthew is showing large companies how they can apply artificial intelligence to big data, to sell more products and services while reducing labour costs. Matthew is frank about having some 200 meetings with 70 plus companies, in order to complete the primary research and ensure Complexica’s software would resolve his customers’ pain points.

During the interview I explore the story of Matthew’s previous business SolveIt Software, which he started in 2005 (again partnering with his father). SolveIT also applied artificial intelligence to optimise complex supply chains which required the scheduling and planning of people, machinery and multiple logistical movements. Matthew grew the company from zero to over $20 million in revenue with over 180 employees. SolveIT Software was ranked as the 3rd fastest growing company in 2012, won numerous awards and boasted an enviable client list including Rio Tinto, Xstrata and BHP Billiton.

It’s fascinating to hear Matthew describe the process of selling SolveIT, which was purchased in 2012 by Schneider Electric. Once the sale was complete, Matthew was able to take a short break from business to concentrate on writing another of his books, which include Life in Half a Second”, “Winning Credibility”, “Puzzle-Based Learning, and “Adaptive Business Intelligence”.

Matthew and I travel further back in time to explore what life in business was like for him while he was based in the USA. We explore his tenure as CEO and CoFounder of NuTech Solutions in the USA, which was the first business he undertook with his father. NuTech had six international offices, a staff of close to 200 people and raised more than $15 million USD in venture capital. Matthew shares the lessons he learnt around business scalability and how he sought mentorship and advice from the board he established. He tells inspiring stories about the persistence which enabled him to attract high profile people like former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Lech Walesa; former Bank of America Chairman, Hugh McColl Jr.; and world renouned  fraud expert and subject of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “Catch Me If You Can” Frank Abagnale, and former National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Prior to NuTech, Matthew co-founded and operated a financial planning and money management firm, and before that, a personal fitness training business while he was at university studying finance. He reviewed all the regular job options such as ‘flipping burgers’ but he was hungry to earn more than just a minimum wage to assist with his tuition. With a passion for fitness training, the 18 year old learned what it means to be an entrepreneur and, as Matthew describes it, “hold the reigns of your destiny in your hands and have the freedom and control around your own actions and direction in life”.

Matthew has been named the Pearcey Foundation “Entrepreneur of the Year”, University of North Carolina “Alumnus of the Year” and Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalist. His businesses and business acumen have featured many times on television and in print including Time, Newsweek and Forbes. He is also a board director at Prophecy International (ASX: PRO) and ComOps (ASX: COM), and a Limited Partner in Blackbird Ventures, an Australian early-stage venture capital fund. From 2005 – 2016 he held the position of Visiting Fellow at the University of Adelaide where he lectured on the subject of technology commercialisation for graduate students.

Quick Links

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Manuel Garcia – Former CEO – Indue Limited

Manuel Garcia Manuel Garcia – Former CEO of Indue Limited – discusses what it means to be an influential leader and the importance of being able to execute strategy.

Manuel Garcia is a talented and accomplished leader who values inspiring people and nurturing a community culture among his team. Before sitting down with Manuel I wasn’t entirely familiar with Indue but after an insightful conversation about the business and Manuel’s career, I am confident Indue will continue to grow and succeed under his leadership in the future.  His ability to take risks and his people focused approach are central to Manuel’s achievements.

Manuel was born in Spain but relocated to Australia with his family in 1968 when he was five, upon his father seeking more opportunity for his young family. Manuel spent his formative years in Brisbane and after finishing school a keen interest in numbers saw him secure a position in banking.

It’s interesting that even as a young man, Manuel understood the role of banking within a country’s wider economy, and was motivated by the scope and opportunity to be influential. His natural ability led him to study a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at the University of Southern Queensland.

Manuel has over 35 years experience in the finance industry. Prior to becoming the CEO of Indue Limited in 2003, Manuel worked across various industries for the National Australia Bank for 21 years both in Australia and abroad.  Manuel’s expertise is in payment products, strategy and finance, product management and wholesale and commercial lending.

Manuel has also completed a number of additional finance and leadership courses throughout his career. He is a member of the Financial Services Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and is a former Director of Eftpos Payments Australia Limited.


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John Nesbitt – Former Chief Executive Officer – Suncorp Banking & Wealth

John NesbittJohn Nesbitt, Former Chief Executive Officer of Suncorp Banking & Wealth, talks business and career, his country roots, and how curiosity is the key to successful leadership.

Sitting down with John on a Monday morning was a great way to start a new week. The insight John shared into his career was fascinating and his passionate approach to new challenges and opportunities was inspiring.

John grew up amid a fourth-generation family business in Inverell in country NSW, he began his career as an accountant at a local firm, managing accounting and tax returns for local farmers. It’s quite fitting he joined The Suncorp Group  in 2010, given Suncorp’s beginnings are rooted in the agri space, and one of its primary focus continues to be serving the unique needs of the agri-industry.

John’s skills and expertise are in the financial and wealth industry.  He left Inverell in his early twenties for Sydney, where he spent five years at PricewaterhouseCoopers  both in Australia and the UK.

He has previously held senior finance and business positions at Perpetual  and 12 years in various roles at Lend Lease Group  in Australia and the USA. He has also worked for MLC Limited.

He has a Bachelor of Financial Administration from the University of New England and is a member of a number of professional associations including the Australian Society of Chartered Practicing Accountants, Fellow and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, Fellow. John is also an Executive Advisor for QUT Executive MBA Business Leadership Practicum and is a part of the QUT Business School Executive Dean’s CEO Strategy Group. John was at the helm of the Suncorp Bank when it was awarded Money magazine’s Bank of the Year in 2015.



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Rod Cameron – CEO – Autism Queensland

Rod Cameron headshotBackground

Rod is the CEO at Autism Qld. He is a highly experienced financial executive with extensive multinational experience in the energy, resources, renewable energy, airport & seaport sectors. An expert in project, corporate & infrastructure finance, he has more than 30 years experience within the commercial sector in high growth capital intensive businesses. Rod is currently Executive Director for Capital Advisory Services, and a Non Executive Director and Deputy Chairman for Blue Energy.

He has worked as CFO for ASX and MYSE listed multinational corporations and has held several NED and Chair positions, also with ASX listed entities.

Prior to joining Autism Qld, Rod was Executive General Manager, Corporate Services for Endeavour Foundation.

Rod is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, with a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons), Griffith University 1987, Master of Business Administration, University of Queensland 1990 & Master of Financial Management, Central Queensland University 1996.

Quick Links

John Wagner – Chairman of the Wagner Group

The Wagners are regarded as one of regional Queensland’s most iconic and successful family businesses of our generation.  As Chair of the Wagner Group, John has overseen the business grow from owning a small hotel and quarrying operations, to a vertically integrated construction materials and mining services business employing over 1000 fulltime people over 5 countries.

Along the way, Wagners have funded, constructed and now operates the first privately funded public utility airport in Australia; plus been honoured with the Premiers Award at Queensland’s 150 Year celebrations as the company that has had the biggest impact in Regional Queensland in 150 years.  John’s story is inspirational especially given how humble he is about his and his families achievements.