Thursday, 27 July 2023

Reception for Industry Leaders Fund

I am delighted to welcome the Industry Leaders Fund community to Government House - not only to acknowledge the importance of the fund to the development of the State, but also to honour its founding CEO, Geoff Vogt.

Geoff, as is well known, is currently handing over the baton after a remarkable 13 years at the helm to new CEO Richard Barrett.

In no part due to Geoff’s commitment, passion, and long-term vision for the ILF, I suspect his handover has been smooth and robust, as he imparts his extensive knowledge, vision, and enviable list of contacts.

It is a special occasion which brings a former Governor, the Premier and a former Premier to Government House and is testament to the esteem in which the fund and indeed Geoff himself are held.


Thirteen years ago, Geoff had a brief to recommend and implement a system to improve business leadership skills in South Australia with a view to growing the economy.

In just two months he built a grants system from scratch to enable existing and emerging leaders to lift their skills and accelerate their development through study.

I’m told that without Geoff’s care and skill the ILF would not be what it is today – enabling our eminent leaders to have reached as high as they have.

As he was recently described by a colleague: Geoff has a genuine drive to liberate the potential in leaders to fully achieve what they are capable of.

And on an occasion such as this, it is worth reflecting on some of the achievements of the fund:

Since inception, the ILF has offered grants worth over $3.2 million to 261 talented business leaders, who have chosen to study at 33 of the world’s top business schools.

That includes 58 who chose Harvard and 50 who elected to attend the University of Adelaide.

It has established a scholars’ network, to embed and reinforce the leadership knowledge and capabilities of the scholars. Several are here today.

With membership earned by passing a rigorous test, I’m told the network has built a reputation as the foremost business network in our State.

The annual survey of Scholar businesses indicated in January this year that 3,490 new jobs had been created in South Australia, at an average grant dollar cost of $650.

Behind this has been the leadership and dedication shown by Geoff, the guidance of an eminent Board alongside the support of highly-motivated scholars, far-sighted donors, and generous supporters.

An audience such as this needs no reminding of the importance of strong leadership being critical to our State’s future and that of the world.

It is a perspective I think it is fair to say has been held by successive premiers, and was reinforced for me in my former role as a diplomat and senior public servant. It’s one that I carry forward as Governor, providing encouragement and support in any way I can.

Of course, I must mention Sir Eric’s personal strong commitment to fostering leadership when, as Governor, he established the Governor’s Leadership Foundation.

Subsequent Governors, including myself, have been proud to continue that patronage.


As a State we are reorientating our economic vision. Once a proud manufacturing State, our compass is now charting new horizons - renewable energy, space, cyber and defence industries, medical research, information technologies.

All the while building on our strengths in agriculture, the arts, food, wine, education, and tourism.

To navigate this future, we will need leaders who are bold enough to look over that horizon, respond to challenges, have integrity, are inclusive and are open to innovative ideas.

We will need leaders who possess a deep self-awareness to draw on their strengths and are generous in sharing their expertise.

I congratulate the ILF for being part of that quest for leadership excellence.

I congratulate all those scholars who have gained much from the Industry Leaders Fund and are actively using that experience to build a strong South Australia.

I also thank all those who have supported that pathway.

The ILF will long have Geoff’s stamp on it, but in saying so I know Richard already has the reins well in hand.

I wish the ILF all the best for the future in its most important work.

Coming events