The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Roger Corbett

Episode 11

Roger Corbett: Episode Summary

On this episode of ‘The Inspiration Project’, Brendan Corr talks to Roger Corbett about his childhood, rise to Woolworths CEO and life of faith.

Among other things Roger shares:

  • his near death experience as a child.
  • ️faith as a lived experience not just an idea.
  • his humble beginnings and experience as CEO of Woolies.
  • the differences between running a company and sitting on a board.
  • ways in which companies should serve their stakeholders.
  • how the Golden Rule has served him well in business and life.
  • ️an inspirational idea he borrowed from Sam Walton.
  • why as CEO of Woolies he worked on Christmas eve.

Roger Corbett: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project, where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Good morning everybody and welcome to another episode of The Inspiration Project podcast. Absolutely delighted to have Mr. Roger Corbett with us this morning. Mr. Corbett, thank you for your time. You have an illustrious career as I see it mapped out before me on some of your bio. Started maybe more decades ago than you might choose to remember, in what were some circumstances that we’ll investigate. But towards the bulk of your career has been spent in the management of some very large companies. Some of the most well known and most people would say, powerful companies that we might be able to recognise in our society. You have worked with Grace Brothers originally, Woolworths, Fairfax Media, on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Walmart is a global enterprise and a number of other very significant business opportunities. Worked on behalf of society in the boards of Children’s Hospitals of Westmead and Randwick and has been part of the leadership of the Salvation Army movement in Australia. We really thank you for your time and appreciate the experience that we believe you’ve accrued over the period of that endeavour. Can you tell us about how it started for you 50 odd years ago? What was it that launched you into a career that has taken you to so many different boardrooms?

Roger Corbett
Well, 77 years ago I was born into a hospital in Cremorne, Sydney to my mother, Yolan Corbett, the first son. I had two younger brothers and I was brought up in Cremorne, Seaforth and then Mosman, and had a wonderful, happy childhood with my parents giving me and my brothers a wonderful education. I was blessed with a very, very happy home life.

Brendan Corr
That sounds fantastic. So eldest son, do you think that being first cab off the rank with the family, number one son, has that changed or given you a certain perspective that you think coming in a different past of the family may not have afforded you?

Roger Corbett
Well, I they that the older son has certain challenges. The younger son battles to get attention and the middle son is left in the middle. I suppose it depends on your point of view. I was the older son and my father did face some significant business problems during that period of time that he shared with me as his eldest son. I was quite close to him. That did have quite an impact upon my sense of security and earnestness I think you might say, growing up, so that was an impact. My parents were people of faith and I made my commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ very early in my life, kneeling with my father beside the bed in his room. We prayed together. That was an icon point in my life and even though I think I was six or seven, might have been eight. Something in that order at the time. That was the starting point of my walk with Jesus and I always look at that being the taken point and the starting point in that journey that has been so important to me and brought such a blessing to me in every aspect of my life.

Brendan Corr
So after 70 years of that journey the reality of it is just as true?

Roger Corbett
Truer.

Brendan Corr
That’s fantastic.

Roger Corbett
Much truer.

Brendan Corr
That is fantastic. You mentioned you had a very happy childhood. What were the things that brought happiness to you at that stage of your life?

Roger Corbett
I had a wonderful mother. My father worked hard, he was a very loving father, but my mother made a wonderful home. She was a consummate mother, I’d have to say. She ran a wonderful home, was a wonderful cook, a caring woman and finally, died I think a victorious life, at 99 and nine months.

Brendan Corr
Oh my goodness. That is amazing. That bodes well for the next 20 years or so for you, I guess.

Roger Corbett
Well, I hope so, I hope so. Genes are important, but she worked in our family business well into her nineties, maybe 94, 95 and she delivered Meals on Wheels probably until she was 96.

Brendan Corr
Wow.

Roger Corbett
She used to deliver Meals on Wheels around Redfern and she’d go in a taxi and she’d take the meals up to the people. A lot of them were a decade or so younger than she was.

Brendan Corr
So Mr. Corbett, you would have been growing up in post-war Australia, post Second World War in Australia. What was the opportunities that were available for a young fellow with keen intent and enthusiasm that opened up for you at that stage?

Roger Corbett
As I said I was brought up in Seaforth, I used to walk across the Spit bridge and catch the tram up to school. My parents weren’t overly wealthy but at this stage of their life they were comfortably off. I lived a very, very happy family life. I suppose the icon experience for me was in 1949. It reminds me of the current COVID-19 reminds me, there was a terrible polio epidemic across Australia at that stage, which killed lots of people and lots of my peers got it and never walked again, or whatever the case may be. Or in fact, died. I, as a boy of six, seven, contracted polio and was taken to the then Infectious Diseases hospital, for polio, which is the Prince Henry Hospital way out in Little Bay. That was a very emotional time for me as a kid for me growing up.

Brendan Corr
I can well imagine.

Roger Corbett
I spent a long time out there. We, as most families did, only had one car. My father worked in the day and most weekends my family would come and see me but some weekends they couldn’t. My mum used to sometimes come on the tram all the way from Seaforth to visit me, but she couldn’t come because she had two little boys to look after as well. That was quite a challenging time. I think the interesting thing was by all accounts I should have never walked again but in the church that we went to there was a group formed to pray for me and my recovery and here I am. I subsequently played football and I rowed and I jogged and I’ve lived and absolutely normal life. I think that was a very pertinent, private and meaningful to me, answer to prayer that I’ve been thankful for.

Brendan Corr
Even though you were a young fellow were you conscious of the prayers of the people of God for you?

Roger Corbett
Yes I was. And in fact, in the Prince Henry Hospital at the turn of the century there was a very good jewellery business, wholesale jewellery business in York Street, Sydney, when wholesalers were a very important part of the distribution chain, particularly jewellery. It was called H.H. Halls. The founder of that used to, on a Sunday night, travel by horse and cart out the Prince Henry Hospital and every Sunday night he would a conduct, with a number of other people, a church service in each of the wards. His son was a fellow called Harry Halls and he happened to be a very good friend of my fathers and I knew about this, vaguely, as a kid. But then as I sat in the hospital, and Sunday by Sunday he brought that service to the… what the simply used, he might have had a dozen people, and they’d sing a few very well known hymns and then they’d move on to the next ward and one of them would stay behind and give a short talk in each of the wards. That had an enormous impact on me.

Brendan Corr
In what way, Mr. Corbett? What impact?

Roger Corbett
Well, it was a little bit of church coming to me in what was… I was in a male adult ward. There were no children’s wards. So these adults were men who were suffering. People who were in iron lungs and the process of recuperation, because you know polio is a virus that takes you for about a week, but it attacks your muscles. So I had no strength in my arms and legs at all for quite a period of time afterwards. Lots of people in that ward were suffering. I didn’t understand what bad language was but I learned it from listening to the men around me, which is a story in itself. When I got home my parents had to try to wean me off it, very much to the shock of the neighbours. But that church service on Sunday, yes meant a lot to me as a little boy at that age. The interesting thing was, it was 20, maybe 30 years, 20 years later, I had the opportunity of doing that myself. I formed a team with my friends and we went out there for many years, maybe 10-15 years on the fourth Sunday of every month and we went around towards conducting those services that I’d enjoyed myself as a kid all those years previously.

Brendan Corr
That is really awesome. This is a really challenging phase for a young person to be experiencing.

Roger Corbett
I’ll tell you a little personal story that I think is worth telling. We lived in a street called, Battle Boulevard, it was just over the Spit bridge, the road used to wind to the left and drop the highest escarpment into the little harbour. When I was diagnosed the doctor said, “Go home”, and my mum said, “You go to bed.” It wasn’t long and an ambulance came up our drive, and remember this was highly infectious. People were dying, it was every bit as dangerous as the current COVID virus. Probably more so because there was no confinement and it was spreading like wildfire and there were lots and lots of people dying and lots and lots of people being infected. One of my friends brother got it, his father caught it from his brother. He was dead within three or four days. So the ambulance pulled up outside our house, I had two younger brothers and they were probably five or six and three, and a lady further down the road came down and said to my mother, “What’s happening?” And she said, “Roger has got polio and we’re taking him to hospital.” And she said, “What’s happening to Richard and Peter?” And my mother said, “Well, they’ve got to come with us, there’s nothing else we can do”. She said, “No they don’t, they’re coming into our house.” That woman was a very fine Christian woman. Talk about an act of love. She took those kids in, my two brothers and endangered herself and her family in a caring spirit. What a wonderful act of love.

Brendan Corr
Indeed, indeed. So very early you had this impression that faith was not just theoretical. It changed the way you interacted with people.

Roger Corbett
It does indeed.

Brendan Corr
It seems that some of these early experiences have left a lasting impression. Can I ask you, Mr. Corbett, facing something as harrowing as that period, that diagnosis and period of recovery, it could lead you to a tremendous sense of personal resilience and internal fortitude and capacity to bounce back that could propel you into a life of being self sustaining. It seems as though rather than that you’ve had an awareness of God’s grace as being a part of your life. What would you think it was that prevented you from feeling this human strength as opposed to God’s companionship in your life?

Roger Corbett
Well, I think it’s possible, I don’t think they’re alternatives. I think there can be two forces that can equally exist in your life. Did it make me resilient? Yes it did. I think I had some limitations in my sporting prowess, maybe from natural lack of talent as well, I acknowledge, but certainly part affected by one leg slightly shorter than the other, one foot slightly shorter than the other, half a size in the show. It did affect a little bit. I suppose that type of drive and so on came from that. The greatest realisation is that you’re in God’s hands and certainly affected me out of this. Looking back, I had a type of comfort and a peace, which really to a large degree was a reflection of my parents faith and dependence on God too.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. So you had good people around you and a personal relationship very early that allowed you to make sense of this. You mentioned the fact that it left some impact, physically, that you’ve carried through life. Have you felt the weight of that? Has that been problematic as you’ve moved into different spheres and different avenues of work and service?

Roger Corbett
Really I’ve had… naturally I think my mother had wonderful genes and I’ve fortunately inherited those. There is such a thing as all of my life this type of thing that does occur later in life and just in the last few years I tend to have a lazy right leg that I sometimes trip over and when I tripped at the top of the balcony of our home and disappeared over the balcony I said to myself, “This is not going to end well.” And it didn’t. I’ve had a few falls and I’ve just got to be careful about that, but that’s the least of my worries.

Brendan Corr
What about other people’s reactions? Has it changed the way people have thought about you and perceived you until they’ve gotten to know you?

Roger Corbett
No, I don’t think it has. No.

Brendan Corr
That’s marvellous. So you go through school, happy childhood. You find yourself unloading trucks.

Roger Corbett
Well I did a commerce degree at the University of New South Wales, some of it full time some of it part time. Going through that I decided to myself that I would write to a number of companies and offer my services during university holidays, so when I finally graduated I’d have the benefit of academic learning and theory and some practical experience in their companies. Grace Brothers wrote back and in fact I have to tell you, they were the only ones who wrote back, and when I went for my interview they said, “Why have you chosen us?” Well I supposed there’s a lie and there’s not telling the whole truth, I didn’t tell them they were the only people that replied. I was appointed to the Chatswood store and my first job was unloading trucks and I did that for quite some time. It had two very, very big impacts on me. The first impact was I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life and that was a very strong impact. It consisted of moving food pallets and in those days the pallets weren’t motorised, you had to pump them up and then you had to pull them. And they could have been maybe one and a half metres, some of them might have even been almost two metres high and very heavy and to get them going was a big, big pull and to stop them was an equal pull and after you’d done this for eight hours I tell you. You sure did. The second thing was, in those menial tasks I learned an enormous respect for those people who do those tasks all their lives. So I developed an empathy, I think, with people in those jobs, which helped me so much in the rest of my life because as a Chief Executive at Woolworth’s or when I was director of operations at Grace Brothers and David Jones later, I always felt great empathy with the people in the stores doing what were really, in many case, tough, sometimes boring jobs. They didn’t have the upward opportunities that I had and most of those people have done those jobs all their lives. The great feeling of sharing with them and an empathy that I understood aspects of their job and both respected them and understood that they weren’t type of workers, they were people just like me and I was just like them. I think was one of the greatest learnings of my life. It paid subsequently, wonderful dividends not only enabled me to be an open, effective leader of them, but also building a wonderful relationship of mutual respect.

Brendan Corr
Yes.

Roger Corbett
I think by chance, one of the key aspects of being a successful manager was learned right there, all those years ago working with those people. Then I subsequently worked my way all the way up and did different types of jobs and so I had an understanding and a respect for those people, which I retain today.

Brendan Corr
You mentioned the term paying dividends. That’s a nice segue to the later half of your career which has been about governance of large companies. Is there a difference between working in a company and governing the company? Being on the board?

Roger Corbett
Well, you know the purer sense of governance is the type of processes and rules and laws that relate to directors and managing directors and chief executives in regard to their shareholders. That process is a really, unbelievably important process in effective commercial activity and delivering for the shareholders what they expect from their investment in that company. Then a little bit separate from that, but still a governance issue, is if you like the management execution on a day-to-day basis in running a business and that more has to do with their relationship with the people. They’re leading a team of people, in the case of Woolworth’s, about a quarter of a million people. In the case of, say, Walmart in America two and a half million people. And you’re leading that through an army of lieutenants and sub-lieutenants and all the way down the rank. The culture that the chief executive leads and has an impact upon a company is immensely important. That’s where I think Christian principles have been immensely helpful to me in a practical sense of running the business. For example, I think the key Christian instruction of doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you or treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself is, I think, one of the foremost management principles of all time, started by Jesus.

Brendan Corr
In practical terms… you were leading two and a half million people as the chairman of the board of Walmart. How does that principle carry out or affect the decisions that you’re making at any particular?

Roger Corbett
First of all, I need to correct that, I wasn’t a president of Walmart I was a director of Walmart and I wasn’t part of the management. The management of that, more recently has been run by a wonderful Australian New Zealand fella called Greg Perand who has done a wonderful job. As a director it would affect you in terms of being very sensitive to listening to the issues of how the managing director was going about executing and leading the business. So you’d be terribly interested in that. You’d be terribly interested in the human resources policies and procedures about how people were treated. Remuneration, fair remuneration. Separation, how you treated people in separation. This whole concept of concerning people. As the chief executive the biggest task you have in running a big business is leading the people. That’s what management is all about. The influence you have on your team and how you go about that has an enormous type of practical impact on the expectations, the security, the comfort and the health of the people right down the organisation. When I was a store manager of Grace Brothers and I might have had a store with 1000 people in it I spend a lot of my time wandering around the store talking to everyone, everyone in the store. At the time I would have known just about everyone in that store, personally. When I ran Woollies and I had 250,000 people I used to spend a lot of my time wandering around the stores. I did that for two reasons. Well maybe three. One, I liked it. Two, it gave me access to the people and by walking around the store I had a great feeling of what the morale was and empathy with people in all walks of the store and I think they got to know me and they liked doing that and I sure liked getting to know them. The endeavours of those people was enormous. The third reason was I could see firsthand what our customers were getting. They had to serve the customers, there’s no better way of knowing than looking at the merchandise, the quality, the freshness of produce, the quality and freshness of the meat. The only way you can find that out is looking at it yourself particularly if you’ve got some expertise in that area, you know what you’re looking for. I used to very much enjoy that. In all the thousands of stores I’ve been in, in my life I can honestly say I’ve never been in one store that I didn’t learn something that was significant and of importance that I would have never, ever found out sitting in my office.

Brendan Corr
Earlier in our conversation you spoke about the priority of the culture of an organisation, a company, a business. Is what you’re describing about getting out, prioritising people, having conversations, is that an important part of what you think is a culture that needs to pervade any commercial enterprise?

Roger Corbett
Oh yes. If you’re leading a team it’s not what you say that counts it’s what you do.

Brendan Corr
Yeah so hearing it.

Roger Corbett
Well, seeing it, hearing it, people meeting you and so my farewell dinner was about, it was our company conference. We had about 10,000 people sit down to dinner. One of the biggest dinners in Sydney. As I spoke on the final occasion and the empathy and relationship I had with those people was just a precious personal experience for me. They really… it was a mutual thing. I care deeply for them and I think most of them cared about me too. So it was just a relationship and it fundamentally goes to the question of a relationship with people. Two important things, there’s a wonderful concept in Christianity of love and also of integrity. People need to not only know you as a person and know that the company cares for them and they also need to know that if you tell them something separate. If I’m working for someone and he tells me or she tells me a lie I might tell them they’re a liar, but if I know it’s a lie I personally will never trust them again.

Brendan Corr
Yes.

Roger Corbett
So this question of relationships. On our badges we used to have, “We Care”, and my badge said, “Roger, We Care” and everyone else’s badge said Bill, John, Mary, We Care. So this concept of caring, you might say the opposite of caring is cynicism. People who don’t care, there’s always an angle, there’s some twist. Cynicism. So cynicism in society is, in my view, a terrible cancer. Its antidote is love. So this question of having people that really care, they care about the customer if the company cares about them. The customer cares about them if they really know the person cares about the customer and if you get that concept. You can’t expect people to care about the company if the company doesn’t care for them. I was terribly anxious that we were never in a position where I had to re-trench people. We were there to give people jobs and I was very careful that we didn’t overshoot the mark with people that need to re-trench people. Though I accept casual staff inter-movement up and down because that’s a variable factor in a business. Permanent people that had been casual for a long time and were dependent, then we need to have a company that was run so people could rely on the fact that they had a secure job and if they did their job well as we expected everyone to do their job well, as I hopefully did my job well, well then that was the type of environment.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, so that hearkens back, you mentioned the Christian principle of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that Christian golden rule. You’re describing that as a business strategy. I want the person to care for our business so my business needs to care for them, whether they’re an employer or a client or a supplier or whatever might be the relationship.

Roger Corbett
I’ll tell you a couple of little stories, if I might. I got this from a fellow called Sam Walton who is the founder of Walmart, which is now the biggest company in the world. He started his business with a little shop in Arkansas after the war and he built it up. When the business got very big he used to often use the store PA to thank his staff. When I was running Woollies I thought that was a really good idea. So if the store was good, I wouldn’t do it if the store wasn’t good, if the store was good I’d get on the PA up at the front near the checkouts and I’d say to a customer, “Ladies and gentleman I want you to just excuse me for a minute, it’s Roger Corbett and I’m just visiting the store here and I want to say how proud I am of the team. This store is just colossal, I don’t know how you do it.” I’d use a little hyperbole and talk about the specials in the store. Didn’t know how they got that wonderful value on bananas and boy those tomatoes were something else, something like that. The customers used to love it as well and of course the store used to love it as well. So that was just a little example of how that worked its way up.

Brendan Corr
I like the fact that it wasn’t false if it was deserved recognition.

Roger Corbett
Well, it was so well deserved and I’d only do it. I’d walk out of the store and it wasn’t good and I wouldn’t do it and the look of disappointment on the manager. I’ve had occasions when managers have actually broken down in tears. I’d say, “Look, I can’t say it today Bill, because you know the store’s not right, but I’ll be back in a week or so’s time and I hope I can say it then.” You’ve got no idea what a motivating factor that was, but it was pretty precious as well. You know I’ve been in stores at nine or 10 o’clock on Christmas Eve when many of the people in the store would have been there from 5 o’clock in the morning and I made it my business to be in stores when no one else wanted to be in stores, like Christmas Eve because I remember when I was working in the store. Did I want to work on Christmas Eve? Did I want to work on Sunday? The answer was no. Did I want to work on Saturday afternoon when my kids were playing sport? No. So, as chief executive I made it my mark to be in stores on those occasions to recognise the people. You’ve got no idea the emotion when people have worked in some of these stores immensely, immensely hard for long, long hours and they’re just about to close on Christmas Eve and you have the opportunity to go on the PA and say what a superb job you’ve done today and you’ve made Christmas for thousands and thousands of people. Thank you so much for your efforts, they are greatly appreciated. These, to me, are the living and caring aspects of Christianity.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good. Mr. Corbett, you spoke earlier in our conversation about being able to throw some light on areas that you had some knowledge about or some insight about. Clearly you know retail backwards and forwards. It’s something you’ve become extremely expert in, but your career has also taken you to some diverse fields, into media, into health. Are you able to carry the same principles of leadership and management into those different spaces or is it a whole new ballgame?

Roger Corbett
Well, that’s a really interesting question, if I might say so. My happiest experiences were when I was walking around stores and I knew the business intimately and there was every job in the place I’d done at one stage or other of different types. I would walk around the store and I would feel the manager’s shoulder slightly ease me in a direction which I recognised immediately because I’d done it myself. Clearly something was not that good somewhere or another. So I’d have to say they were the happiest times when you’ve got an involvement with people that you’re immediately related to know and you know. It’s much harder when you’re actually running a business where you don’t know in the same intimate way. So I’m a chairman of a pharmaceutical business, very, very complex pharmaceutical business. I don’t understand the science behind that, equally running a business like Fairfax during the digital revolution where turnover was a drop in compound 15% a year, has its own challenges. Those roles are more governance, they’re more standing back, looking at the broad trends, broad pictures of strategy and indeed, some of the execution in the broader sense. You don’t have the intimacy of involvement with the people on an everyday basis that you had with the chief executives. And indeed you’ve got to be careful that you don’t cross the line between executive responsibility and board responsibility. That’s a very important part of governance. The managing director or chief executive got to lead the business. In fact, you’ve got to report to and be accountable to the board. That’s how the governance process works. If you get too much involved one, you compromise both his leadership and of course your ability to hold him responsible. Or her.

Brendan Corr
Do you have the same level of enjoyment and satisfaction? You are describing a slightly at an arm’s length relationship to the business when you were in a position of director or chair of the board. Does it carry the same satisfaction when the company succeeds?

Roger Corbett
Well, I’m a hands-on type guy and I came up through the ranks over 40 years before I really became a chief executive. So my comfort zone is to be involved in a hands-on in the store sense. I’m happiest there, it’s not a preference. They’re different roles. However, there’s quite an interesting difference here. If you’re a director, a director is you arrive at a meeting, you carry the responsibility. You can make during the course of the directors meeting a few hours maybe four or five comments. If no one acknowledges them and nothing happens they probably disappear in the ether. If you talk too much then they say, “That old Corbett, he dominates, you can’t keep him quiet”, or, “He knows everything”, or something of that nature. There’s this business of board equilibrium or colleague-ship and relationship, which is necessary in a sense but is also very limited. So I found being just a director not all that satisfying because unless someone says to you, “That’s a good idea”, and does something about it, as I said it disappears into the ether. I’ve found it much more satisfy to be honest to be chairman because there you can make sure comments by directors don’t go into the ether. If someone says something that is of significance, oh well that’s a good idea. Now we don’t let that go. Let’s put that into the matters arising from the meeting so whoever the managing director is, he or she, Bill or Mary will you make sure we have a look at that, please come back next meeting and tell us what you’re going to do about it. So you’re able in that role to take a board and I think make it far more effective and the roles in it far more effective. If you’re serving on a board and you’ve got a chairman who doesn’t do that it can be a little less satisfying. In preference I love being a managing director and running the business. Being a chairman as I am now of three companies, one very small but companies, I’m able to have some influence over making sure that board works more effectively so it’s a leadership role. My least inclination is just to be a member of a board.

Brendan Corr
That’s a good segue to the last thing I want to ask you about. Your career profile clearly maps that you’ve assumed leadership in every organisation that you’ve been part of, whether it’s appointed to that or rising through the ranks to assume that. What do you think is a good leader?

Roger Corbett
Well, I think your assumption is wrong. There have been two occasions in my job, my life, both occasions I have been promised the top job. On the first occasion I not only didn’t get the top job, I found myself out of a job altogether. The second occasion I was promised a job and when the due time came up circumstances in some peoples eyes had changed and they didn’t want to move on. So I didn’t get the job. I won’t go into all the details but these were two crisis points. So it wasn’t a matter of assumed leadership. When you’re chief executive you’ve actually got to be given the job, you can’t demand the job and the board of directors or your superior is the person that determines that. So it’s out of your hands to determine. And they went through crisis points. On the first occasion at 45 I thought I was going to be managing director of this company and the company was taken over by another company and in a matter of months I had no job. The good part about this is the commander in chief is not the chairman of the companies, it’s not the managing directors it’s not the board, it’s God!

Brendan Corr
Amen.

Roger Corbett
And I’m in God’s hands. So even though these were terrible experiences God worked it out for me and if I hadn’t had the first experience I’d never have had the opportunity and the great honour of running one of Australia’s greatest companies, Woollies at a great time for Woollies. It was just a great blessing and that wasn’t in anyone’s hands but God’s. And I’ve got to say, Thank you God. You’ve done a very nice job by me and I’m very grateful.

Brendan Corr
That’s a great way to finish our conversation, Mr. Corbett. You have given great service to the business community, you’ve given great service to the companies that you’ve lead and continue to lead and it’s a wonderful thing that in the stages that you are you can still see the hand of God guiding you through those challenges and disappointments and bringing opportunity for you to do the best in his name and his work for the people that you want to care for through the leadership you provide. Thank you for your time with us. We are grateful for it and we pray God’s blessing upon you.

Roger Corbett
Thank you very much. I enjoyed the interview, thank you.

About Roger Corbett

Roger Corbett has more than 50 years experience in retailing, rising from unloading trucks at Grace Brothers to the position of CEO of Woolworths (which he held from 1999 to 2006). Roger graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from UNSW and in 2008 was promoted to an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to business, particularly through leadership roles in the retail sector. Roger remains actively involved in the business world as the chairman of several boards. He was previously on the boards of Fairfax Media, the RBA, Wal-Mart and the Salvation Army Advisory Board.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).