Donald McGurk is the Managing Director of Codan Limited, which specialises in the design, manufacture and marketing of electronic products aimed at global markets.
The company exports to around 130 countries around the world.
Can you tell us about your career and how it led to being Managing Director at Codan?
I was brought up in a coal mining town in Scotland that was badly affected by mine closures under Margaret Thatcher. In 1990, my wife and I sold up everything and came to Adelaide, sight unseen. After initially not being able to find work, I put an ad in the paper and got a job a short time later in the precision sheet metal industry. I joined Codan in 2000 in a manufacturing executive position and worked my way up until I was appointed Managing Director in November 2010.
Briefly, what does your role involve?
I am in charge of a company with 450 employees located in six countries which exports about 90% of its goods overseas. My role is motivating staff and helping them to succeed. If I can achieve that, the results take care of themselves. I also have an excellent team around me.
What does Codan do?
In general terms, we are an electronics firm that mainly focuses on radio communications, satellite communications and metal detection through our Minelab business. Our radio communications focuses on HF radio which is highly effective in remote and difficult-to-reach locations. Minelab produces gold and treasure detectors as well as detectors that identify unexploded land mines and ordnances. These products are used by the global consumer market as well as military and humanitarian organisations around the world.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Encouraging and seeing other people succeed. I also enjoy being able to control what happens at the highest level, making a difference and influencing the result.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
Being surrounded by good people and having the good fortune to have worked for some truly exceptional leaders.
What are your views on leadership?
Leaders need to be knowledgeable, well informed, measured, thought-provoking and inspirational to those they work with.
Given the high Australian dollar, how have you been able to hold sales internationally?
Several years ago we took a number of steps to “dollar-proof” the business including shifting some of our cost base into US dollars and outsourcing some of our manufacturing to Malaysia. This has stood us in good stead. Also, our products are leading edge and quality always finds a market.
What lies ahead for Codan?
We will continue to enhance our “can do” attitude and profitably grow the business by combining organic growth with entry into new, diverse technology markets.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy bike riding as it gives me the time to let my thoughts run free without the distraction of being at work. It’s amazing how often solutions to problems will arise when I’m on the bike. I ride about 200 km on the weekend and another 60 or so kilometres during the week as well as doing gym work. I also enjoy supporting my children’s sports.
What is your general philosophy on life?
I get my kicks out of seeing other people be successful. I also believe that you shouldn’t worry about things you can’t control and you should surround yourself with the right, positive people