Alumni of Distinction 2014

Four alumni of the Faculty of Business and Economics were announced as Alumni of Distinction at the 2014 Foundation Dinner at the National Gallery of Victoria on Thursday 13 March 2014.

Outstanding contribution to Faculty/University Award

Professor Ross Williams 

BCom Hons 1964

Professor Ross Williams is Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Ross is highly regarded for his research and development in econometrics and applied economics, particularly in areas of education, public policy and federal-state fiscal relations.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne, Ross worked as a senior tutor in economics before studying at the London School of Economics, where he was awarded a PhD in 1969. Upon returning to Australia, Ross held various positions at Monash University, Australian National University and the World Bank. In 1975, Ross became Professor of Econometrics at the University of Melbourne, a position that he held for 27 years.

From 1994 to 2002, Ross was Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Commerce (now Faculty of Business and Economics). Ross' deanship oversaw the massive expansion of the Faculty, through the increase in international student intake, the establishment of the Department of Management and the Department of Finance, and the introduction of a suite of postgraduate coursework programs. He also successfully secured funding for the refurbishment of the Babel building. During this period, Ross steered the Faculty through major pedagogical changes, including the incorporation of information technology in teaching and learning. his leadership ensured a significant improvement in the quality of teaching and research performance, fortifying the Faculty's reputation as a world-class business education provider.

After retiring as Dean of the Faculty, Ross became a member of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. In 2003, Ross joined the Melbourne Institute as Professorial Fellow. His research at the Institute continues to provoke public debate and inform policy formation nationally and internationally. His extensive work on global University rankings design, particularly as lead research of the Universitas 21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems, is extremely influential in shaping the higher education landscape worldwide.

Ross is currently also Managing Editor of the Australian Economic Review. Throughout his academic career, Ross has made exceptional contributions to the literature on research topics as diverse as demand and saving, time-use studies, the cost of civil litigation, housing, federal-state finance, and the economics of education.

Amongst his many publications, Ross wrote The Policy Providers: A History of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (2012) and edited Balanced Growth: A History the Economics Department, University of Melbourne (2009). These two texts contribute immensely to the collective memory of the Faculty and provide invaluable insights to the evolution of the Faculty and the University, within the context of higher education policy in Australia and the state of the economy from past to present.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and Fellow of Queen's College. In 2010 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to education, particularly in the discipline of econometrics, through research and administrative roles, as a contributor to professional publications, and as an adviser to state and federal governments. 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Mr Sam Walsh AO 

BCom 1972

Sam Walsh is Chief Executive Officer of Rio Tinto Group. He is recognised as one of Australia's most successful international business leaders. His continuous contributions and leadership in business globally and his service to the mining industry in particular is extraordinary.

Sam joined Rio Tinto in 1991, and has held numerous senior positions within the Group, including Chief Executive of the aluminum business and, from 2004, Chief Executive of the iron ore business, Rio Tinto's largest division, where he was responsible for rapid growth through mine expansions and major infrastructure developments.

As Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Group, Sam has driven a substantive transformation agenda, reshaping the Group's portfolio on core businesses and enhancing its capital allocation processes. In addition, Sam has overseen the delivery of major projects, including the expansion of iron ore capacity in the Pilbara, as well as the first shipments from the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in Mongolia.

Prior to joining the Rio Tinto, Sam spent 20 years in the automotive industry and held senior roles at General Motors and Nissan Australia.

Sam is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering, and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.

As a strong supporter of the arts, Sam held a number of senior positions in community and business organisations as well as participated in various government-led initiatives while based in Australia. Sam was conferred with honorary life membership of the Western Australian Chamber of Arts and Culture and was appointed as roving Ambassador for the Chamber in 2013.

Sam also became the inaugural recipient of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply's CEO Procurement Champion Award in 2013. In 2012, he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Australia Institute of Company Directors. In 2011, he was recognised with the Richard Pratt Business Arts Leadership Award in Australia. In 2010, in recognition of his distinguished contribution to business and the community, Sam was appointed as an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia and awarded an Honorary Doctor of Commerce by Edith Cowan University. In 2007, Sam was named Western Australia Citizen of the Year - Industry & Commerce, and an Australia Export Hero.

Rising Star Award

Mr Simon Griffiths 

BCom 2007 BE Hons 2007

Simon is the founder of Shebeen, Who Gives a Crap and Ripple, three social enterprises that aim to alleviate global poverty through consumer-driven philanthropy.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in 2007, Simon turned down his dream job at a management consultancy and set up his first social business, Ripple.org, a click-to-give and search-to-give website that donates 100% of its revenue to development aid organisations. Ripple was named #23 in BRW's top 100 web 2.0 sites of 2003 and has received over 6 million visitors to date.

Since then Simon has spent time working in development aid in South Africa and visited various NGOs in eight sub-Saharan nations. He recognised a universal problem with each organisation - insufficient funding - and was determined to revolutionise the way society approaches philanthropy.

Upon returning to Melbourne, Simon started Shebeen and Who Gives a Crap. Inspired by makeshift bards in South Africa, Shebeen is a restaurant and bar that sells exotic beers and wines from the development world with 100% of the profit from each sale supporting projects in each drink's country of origin. Instead of conventional capital-raising, Simon and his business partners sought the support of social investors and product partners, including Schweppes and hospitality equipment funder SilverChef, while promising no returns for investors. Thanks to publicity generated by the media and two years of hard work, Shebeen secured $250,000 in funding and opened its doors in early 2013.

After learning that 2.5 billion people across the world do not have access to a toilet and that diarrhea-related diseases fill over half of sub-Saharan African hospital beds, killing 2,000 children under 5 each day, Simon and his business partners launched Who Gives a Crap, a toilet paper company that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. Simon turned to crowdfunding via the internet to generate capital. His push for donations involved livestreaming himself sitting on a toilet with his laptop until the company raised $50,000. Who Gives a Crap was launched 51 hours later, and the company delivered its first product in March 2013.

In 2010, Simon became Australia's first Fellow of the Unreasonable Institute. In 2011, he was recognised by The Age's Melbourne Magazine as one of Melbourne's Top 100 Most Influential People, and in 2013, he was shortlisted for Young Australian of the Year. 

Leadership Award

Ms Jacqueline Hey 

BCom 1986

Jacqueline Hey has a distinguished career in telecommunications, most recently as Managing Director of Ericsson in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. She currently serves on the Boards of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Special Broadcasting Service Corporation, Qantas, Australian Foundation Investment Company, Cricket Australia and Melbourne Business School.

Jacqueline has demonstrated remarkable leadership in the telecommunications, technology and IT industries in Australian and internationally. From 2004 to 2008, Jacqueline was Managing Director of Ericsson UK and Ireland, including Saudi Arabia from 2005 to2006. Subsequently, Jacqueline served as Managing Director of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand until 2010. During this time, she helped cement Ericsson as one of the world's most important communications companies, shaping the future of mobile and broadband internet communications through continuous innovation and technology leadership.

Since leaving Ericsson, Jacqueline has continued to make sustained contributions in various industries, utilising her unique breadth of experience in managing strategic, corporate governance and policy issues. Based on her international experience and expertise in telecommunications services, digital rights management and online service, Jacqueline was appointed to the Board of SBS in 2011. In the same year, Jacqueline joined the Board of Directors of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and the bank's Audit, Risk and Change Technology Governance Committees.

In October 2012, Jacqueline became the first woman to join the Board of Cricket Australia, a revolutionary change in the boardroom structure of that organisation. With her role, Jacqueline hopes to encourage other women to become influential in cricket.

Recently, Jacqueline expanded her executive portfolio by joining the boards of Qantas, AFIC and Melbourne Business School. Jacqueline is also Honorary Consul for Sweden in Victoria.