Home' Charter : 1011 Charter Contents October 2011 I Charter 45
2-year stint in the UK offce in Birmingham’s
audit division in the early 80s. Aside from
being the home of Duran Duran and a
modest music scene, Birmingham business
in the 80s was suffering from the grips of
recession and corporate restructure experts
were in strong demand. The situation
allowed him to hone his skills and develop a
“It was a tremendous experience and I
learnt a great deal about insolvency. The
opportunity to travel and live overseas in that
way is something that the profession offers
you that you can’t create yourself,” he says.
Maxsted strongly advises those emerging
in the profession to try and get into a system
that provides those opportunities for travel
as it is a breeding ground for personal and
His next signifcant break came in 1989
through to 1991, this time thanks to the
He was selected to work on a team
headed by David Crawford FCA, then a
leading light at KPMG and now former
KPMG chairman and active board member.
“David was the doyen of insolvency at the
time and I hung onto his coat-tails,” he quips.
COMPLEX CORPORATE COLLAPSES
From that era on, Maxsted started forging
a reputation for being a doyen himself,
analysing some of the very high profle and
complex corporate collapses of the period.
In September 1989, Maxsted was
appointed to investigate the affairs of Abe
Goldberg, the founder of textile giant the
Linter Group, which collapsed under a
mountain of debt.
Maxsted’s forensic eye revealed that the
group comprised a complex web of inter-
company relationships, with hidden liabilities
of around $1.7 billion.
Other clients included Bond Brewing
and McEwans Hardware, which was later
purchased by Bunnings. “These were very
interesting times and very interesting clients,”
Despite reaching the top of his game,
Maxsted claims that his journey would not
have been such without the mentors and
colleagues that he worked with along the way.
He nominates David Crawford as his No1
“I was very blessed by the quality of the
partners at KPMG that I got to work with,”
Mentorship and strong leadership is crucial
to a successful business, Maxsted believes.
“That’s really important and we all need
luck in life and having that (the support of a
mentor) really helps,” he adds.
Maxsted also nominated as mentors the
late Jim Poulton FCA who helped establish
KPMG’s insolvency division (“a partner
with marvelous insights”) and the late Ken
Spencer FCA, a former managing partner of
KPMG’s Melbourne offce describing them
as “all leaders and icons in the accounting
“It’s crucial whether in journalism or
accounting, that you have someone you are
working for that is keen to nurture you and
help you through life – it is a tremendous
gift,” he says.
He adds that exposure to these individuals
forces you to learn good habits – one of the
things to which he credits his success.
His advice to emerging professionals
includes always “taking the opportunities
that are put before you”. Drawing from his
own experiences, the times when he pushed
himself into territories that he didn’t know
about were the ones that yielded the most
professional satisfaction and knowledge.
“Force yourself through any insecurities
that you might not be up for the job. If you
push yourself and take those opportunities
they will give you recognition both inside and
outside of the organisation,” he advises.
He also advocates networking with peers as
much as possible. “Try and get to a level with
your peers where you can share issues with
them. We often fnd areas of concern in work
that we feel are insurmountable but, when
shared, you will fnd that a colleague has gone
through a similar situation and has advice.”
He says corporations like KPMG are
excellent in terms of fostering this kind of
collaborative thinking and behavior.
“This type of organisation that is built
around big intakes of graduates lends itself
to this from the start, particularly in those frst
three years of little experience.” he adds.
As CEO, Maxsted launched KPMG’s People
First strategy in 2005. It was created to
encourage diversity, help staff collaborate
and provide support for growth.
Women were central to this and the
number of women joining KPMG under
Maxsted’s tenure increasingly signifcantly.
During the 2006 fnancial year, 31 per cent of
the people admitted to the partnership were
Since leaving KPMG in 2008, he has
been the managing director of Align Capital
which provides consultancy work in the
restructuring advisory feld in addition to
taking on high calibre board memberships,
serving on not-for-proft boards and chairing
government advisory councils.
His latest appointment to the chair for
Westpac is a highly anticipated move. “I am
very honoured and of all the industries that I
have worked across I think that banking and
fnance interests me most,” he says.
He is drawn to the sector because “it is
absolutely critical and fundamental to the
economy and we have witnessed [that] with
In terms of Westpac’s appeal he says that
CEO Gail Kelly is “fantastic” and it is a “terrifc
honour” to be the chairman.
Of all the industries that I have worked
across I think that banking and finance
interests me most
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