Philosophy and leadership – Jack Matthews on the big picture

First Published; APRIL 10,2013

Just like politics, a week is a long time in the media. A few months is like a lifetime. When we interviewed Jack Matthews, he was philosophical about the evolution of the media industry, optimistic about the future of Fairfax, and determined that leadership should be both courageous and inclusive.

In the shakeup announced last week, Matthews is to leave Fairfax, as they bring in Alan Williams from Fairfax New Zealand to lead the business forward.

Having worked in business and finance for almost 20 years, I have seen many great CEOs come and go – and many fall on their sword as they recognise the company needs new leadership. It is the double edge sword that is being a leader.

Jack Matthews was part of a new breed of leader that was working on changing the status quo, turning a huge ship around, and creating a new culture. Not an easy job in any industry, particularly traditional media.

He was also someone who was not afraid to back his own view – something we here at The Bottom Line not only advocate, but actively promote. In a time when decisions are made on popular opinion and polls, having a view that may be contrary to others and backing it, is indeed a courageous thing.

While corporate Australia may not always reward those who do this, we are far better off for having those who lead, have the courage to do so.

When I got to spend time with Jack Matthews I found him a philosopher as much as a CEO, with a pragmatic view of progress and how to achieve it.  Matthews has taken Fairfax Metro  a long way under his digital strategy- it will be fascinating to see what next, both for Matthews, and the media giant.

Interesting times.