David Baxby, co-Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Group has been awarded the highest honour at Bond University’s inaugural Alumni Awards.
Mr Baxby flew in from Geneva, Switzerland to receive the prestigious Robert Stable Alumni Medal.
Bearing the name of the University’s longest serving Vice-Chancellor, the medal recognises exceptional achievement in any field by a graduate who has brought distinction to themselves, the University and benefit to their communities through their vocation.
“To be honoured in this way is fantastic, and surprising – particularly knowing the fantastic results and achievements of my fellow Alumni in their own lives and careers,” said Mr Baxby.
Mr Baxby’s rise through the corporate ranks to become Sir Richard Branson’s right hand man is indicative of his firm belief in the notion that people make their own luck.
Joining Arthur Anderson Corporate Finance as a newly minted Bond graduate, he spent 12 months in the role before deciding he wanted to try something different, which led him to Rothschild Australia where he worked on gold mining transactions.
One year later, global investment firm Goldman Sachs was looking to grow their presence in Australia. Mr Baxby joined as the fourth member of their team, which was to grow to more than 1,200 during his nine-year tenure.
Moving to London with the firm, Mr Baxby found himself on the client team for the Virgin Group, where he came to know Sir Richard.
Returning to Australia at the time Virgin Australia was launched, he took a leap of faith and put his hand up to establish the Asia Pacific headquarters of the Virgin Group.
From 2004, he worked with Brett Godfrey, and more recently John Borghetti, to grow the Virgin Australia business to 150 jets and transform the Australian aviation landscape. He also oversaw the launch of Virgin Active and Virgin Money in Australia. Following a two-year stint in Shanghai, he assumed responsibility for all of Virgin's aviation investments and moved to Geneva. In 2011, Mr Baxby became Co-CEO of the Virgin Group with a charter to expand the brand into new sectors and further expand its international reach.
Mr Baxby credits his time at Bond University with helping to instil in him the bravery to do something different and go after his passions.
“To choose Bond takes bravery, and it takes focus. To go mainstream with your peers, that is the easy route.
“People who are willing to take a risk, make a conscious choice and not just go with the flow are the people who are really getting on in this world, and I think Bond prepares you to make those sorts of calls,” said Mr Baxby.
Bond University Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Brailsford said Mr Baxby epitomised the entrepreneurial spirit that Bond seeks to instil in all its graduates.
“It is our mission at Bond University to produce graduates who are leaders and thinkers, imbued with initiative, the spirit of free enterprise and a continuing quest for intellectual inquiry, challenge and opportunity.
“Mr Baxby embodies all these qualities and is a deserving recipient of our inaugural Robert Stable Alumni Medal,” said Professor Brailsford.
Mr Baxby was honoured, together with other finalists, at Bond University’s inaugural Alumni Awards Gala Dinner on July 12, 2012.
Other winners were Polly Banks, Senior Project Officer for Save the Children in the remote West Kimberley, who received the Alumni Award for Exceptional Community Achievement; and recent Commerce/Law graduate Adam Roberts, who received the Alumni Student Award.