Seven Group Holdings Chief Financial Officer Richard Richards has been presented with the Robert Stable Medal, the top prize at the 2021 Bond University Alumni Awards.
Mr Richards was a member of the University’s first cohort – the legendary ‘892s’ who began their studies in semester two of 1989.
He graduated from Bond with a Bachelor of Commerce/Law (Hons) and rose through Westpac, Qantas, Downer EDI and the Lowy Family Group before becoming CFO of Seven Group in 2013.
Seven Group’s share price has more than doubled since his appointment, with Mr Richards working closely with CEO Ryan Stokes and Executive Director Kerry Stokes to manage an $8 billion conglomerate with diverse interests spanning mining services, equipment hire, energy assets and media.
Mr Richards put his success down to a commitment to lifelong learning and being mentored by some of the biggest names in Australian business including the Stokeses, Colin Storrie, Gary Toomey and Don Voelte.
“I've worked for people who have given me opportunities well beyond my capabilities at the time, but they ultimately supported me and helped me manage on the way through,” he said.
“To be given those types of opportunities at different points in my career, I probably didn't deserve it. But I've benefited from the experience.”
Mr Richards has fond memories of his time at Bond, when the university was fighting for acceptance and survival.
“We were forged in a crucible -- first private university in Australia, a hybrid model and the best of the US and UK education systems,” he said.
“We had to be risk-takers, ambitious, adaptable, entrepreneurial, probably a little unconventional and fully committed.
“But we all were willing to invest in our own education. And how could you not want to come to the Gold Coast? It’s the best playground in the country.”
Paralympian, disability and domestic violence campaigner Karni Liddell took the Community Achievement Award.
Ms Liddell has a simple message for those wanting to end ‘horrific’ levels of abuse against disabled women: employ them.
“Women with disabilities are three times more likely to experience sexual violence,” she said.
“Those numbers are gross, disgusting -- and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why.
“If I can't get a job, if I can't be financially free and independent, then I've got no chance of leaving a toxic, abusive household.
“We will never ever, ever support women with disabilities unless we employ them.”
The Young Alumni Award was presented to Haydn Dodds who chose to complete his medical internship in Alice Springs where he learned the Arrernte language to better communicate with local Indigenous people.
A former chair of the Australian Medical Students Association who is now working at Royal Darwin Hospital, Dr Dodds is committed to improving health outcomes for First Australians.
“We service Arnhem Land where people live on islands that are a boat trip and a 700km drive away from hospital,” he said.
“Indigenous people living in that environment just don't have the same access to education and healthcare and all the things you can expect in a city.
“The key to improving that is Aboriginal-led policy discussions.
“You can have the best of intentions but unless you've got senior leaders within those organisations trying to get the young ones on board, it's never going to work.”
The awards were presented by Vice Chancellor and President Tim Brailsford at an event that is the highlight of Bond University’s annual Homecoming Week.
“These award winners are living the Bond credo of entrepreneurial leadership, advocacy, public service and improving the lives of all Australians,” Professor Brailsford said.
“They continue to set an outstanding standard following previous winners. They are an inspiration to students and their fellow alumni and show how far we’ve come since our founding in 1989 when Richard was one of the foundation class of 322 students.”
The Robert Stable Medal is named for Emeritus Professor Robert Stable AM, a former vice chancellor and president of Bond University and former director-general of Queensland Health.
About Richard Richards
Mr Richards is Chief Financial Officer of Seven Group Holdings and a Director of Beach Energy.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce/Laws (Hons) from Bond University, a Master of Applied Finance (Hons) from Macquarie University, and a Master of Laws (Hons) from the University of Sydney.
His previous roles include Deputy CFO of Downer EDI, CFO – Family Asset Management at the Lowy Family Group, and multiple Group General Manager positions at Qantas.
About Karni Liddell
Ms Liddell won medals for swimming at two Paralympic Games and is a social worker, disability and domestic violence campaigner, keynote speaker and media presenter.
She holds a Bachelor of Communication from Bond University and a Master of Social Work from QUT.
Ms Liddell is a member of the Queensland Government’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council and an ambassador for the NDIS, the Day of Difference, and the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association.
About Haydn Dodds
Dr Dodds is a Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
He holds a Bachelor of Medical Science from the Australian National University and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Bond University.
Dr Dodds is Northern Territory Representative of the AMA Council of Doctors in Training and a past Chair of the Australian Medical Students’ Association.