James is a strategic leader with an impressive track record taking local Australian business through significant growth and expansion into international markets. He was the Managing Director and CEO of Incitec Pivot (IPL). Over his 14 year tenure, first as CFO and then as CEO, the company increased in size 6-fold to an enterprise value of $8bn. Other significant highlights during his time at IPL included overseeing construction of two new $1bn world scale manufacturing plants (one at Moranbah, Australia and the other at Louisiana, USA), successfully integrating the $3.6bn Dyno-Nobel acquisition (which took IPL global) and restructuring the group to become a global industrial chemical company with operations in 13 countries around the world.
James is also Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University and in this capacity provides advice to the Vice-Chancellor and Senior Management on strategy, culture and operational excellence. James is also an Adjunct Professor at La Trobe Business School specialising in management, international business and digital. James passionately believes in diversity and is a member of the Melbourne Male Champions of Change group.
With deep expertise in driving strategic growth in multiple industries, James holds the position of Non-Executive Director to Australia Pipeline Limited; an ASX 50 company that owns and operates circa $21bn of energy assets in Australia, Rabobank Australia Limited; the world’s leading specialist food and agribusiness bank, Tassal Group Limited; Australia’s leading seafood producer.
James is currently the Chairman of Osteon Medical, a leading digital health business; and Manufacturing Australia, a CEO-led coalition of Australia's largest manufacturers who work with all sides of government, business and community to help the sector realise its full potential.
James is the former CEO of Incitec Pivot Limited, a position he held for over 18 years. He talks through his pathway to the top job, particularly the diversity of experience he was afforded in the foundation of his career.
James believes in continual learning, personal progression and a passion for self-development. He talks through his diverse career that spanned different challenges and new opportunities. Amidst the highs and lows he experienced, each year he would conduct what he terms a ‘resume test’: reflecting on the year gone by and identifying two initiatives he’d achieved that he’d feel proud to own. If this wasn’t the case, it was time for a change.
This approach allowed James, both personally and professionally, to build competencies and experiences. He advises young professionals not necessarily to climb the ladder in front of them, but continually seek different and demanding challenges. He also speaks to the value that mentors had in his career, particularly in the realms of guidance, perspective and experience.
In his professional career, James attributes his successes as being defined by discipline and drive toward a defined strategy. He feels it is key to understand the value of the business, and how it is valued. This allows an organisation to create a window of opportunity in the market, whilst leveraging the distinctive core competencies of the enterprise.
A key distinctive competency, the primary distinctive competency, is culture. James believes that having a sound culture is the only competitive advantage in business because it is so difficult to replicate and leverage. A culture is the only thing that’s sustainable because it is changes within you, not to you.