Since he first graduated from Griffith University with a commerce degree in 1992, Paul Simshauser has been making his mark and influencing lives across Queensland and Australia.
His formidable endeavours in the energy sector, his contribution to education and his selfless efforts to give a leg up to those in need of support were highlighted and celebrated when he was named the Griffith Business School Outstanding Alumnus for 2016 on Friday night.
The 47-year-old, one of Australia’s leading energy economists and a popular recipient of the prestigious annual award, was quick to turn the spotlight back on Griffith University and the influence it has had on his notable career to date.
“I wonder if I should be accepting an award or handing one back to the university. I’m not sure if it is going in the right direction,” he said with a hint of embarrassment.
Griffith University has played an integral part in his three major career moments, he explained, not least in 2015 when he moved from an executive position with ASX-listed AGL Energy to the role of Director-General at the Department of Energy and Water Supply.
“I had no prior experience in the public sector and within four hours of my move becoming public I had the university reaching out to me, inquiring how they could help. GBS’s Professor Anne Tiernan, one of Australia’s most respected political scientists and ‘critical friend’ to the Queensland Directors-General Leadership Board, put in a call and has been helping me ever since,” he said.
“I now have a monthly debrief with Professor Tiernan. It’s a sophisticated conversation about my role and my responsibilities to the people of Queensland, and helps immensely to ensure I’m not missing the bigger picture in the pursuit and development of sound public policy.”
Strong connection with Griffith
This strong connection between Paul Simshauser’s career and Griffith Business School dates back to the early 1990s when his first lucky break in working life arose at the Queensland Electricity Commission while at the same time completing a Bachelor of Commerce at Nathan.
“My study focus at that time was just so relevant to the work field I was entering.”
His first executive appointment at the age of 28, as Head of Energy Trading at Stanwell Corporation, intersected with his return to Griffith Business School to study a Master of Commerce and complete a thesis in energy trading.
“I was returning to the education factory to restock and update in terms of the tools of my trade. Again, the timing could not have been better.
“The National Electricity Market was about to start and energy trading was a completely new field. My time at GBS was used to help devise the company’s board policies and trading strategies.”
In 2010 Paul Simshauser was also appointed a Professor of Economics at Griffith University and his academic research has helped expose often hidden household hardship and welfare issues caused by the structure and design of the country’s energy markets. His body of work, including 35 internationally published journal articles, has contributed significantly to energy policy in Australia.
He has also raised more than $500,000 for charity during the past 15 years, his most recent project delivering $35,000 for a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Griffith University students have also benefited from his efforts in this quarter through the creation of industry-connected scholarships.
“We’ve all got a responsibility to give back and when it’s within our power to do so, we should. If nothing else, it keeps you grounded.”
Professor Simshauser shared the limelight at the Sofitel Brisbane Central with two other award winners.
Corporate strategist Olivia Loadwick was named the Young Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, and Dr William Chen was the inaugural recipient of the International Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.
Olivia Loadwick named Young Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Ms Loadwick, who completed a Bachelor of International Business at Griffith in 2003, is an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company in Sydney. An internationally respected specialist in corporate finance, she has advised some of the world’s leading companies on mergers, acquisitions, capital management and strategy.
While studying at Griffith’s Nathan campus she was the only Australian student to be selected for the Samsung Global Strategy program in Seoul, one of only 10 worldwide, an opportunity she continues to value.
“Griffith Business School was responsible for launching my career,” she said.
Olivia is also well known for her work as a social entrepreneur with organisations like Habitat for Humanity, The Glass Elevator and Global Sisters. She is a strong advocate for the ‘shared value’ approach to business.
“Consideration of the social dimension of a company can contribute to driving innovation and supports the long-term adaptation and prosperity of a company,” she said.
“This includes consideration of the relationship between its people, assets, products, services, investments and systems, along with consideration of community impact, relationships with suppliers and supply chains, customers and regulators.”
William Chen named International Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Hong Kong-based William Chen graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1992. Today he is Group Chief Financial Officer and General Manager (Hong Kong) for Hui Lau Shan Group, a dessert chain with more than 250 stores. Since joining in 2011, when the brand had about 70 stores, he has been central to the company’s rapid business expansion into markets in China, Malaysia, UK and US.
Dr Chen congratulated Griffith Business School on the introduction of an international award in 2016.
“It reinforces the value the School places on global orientation and recognises the influence of alumni in business communities overseas.”
Pro Vice Chancellor (Business), Professor David Grant, congratulated the 2016 Outstanding Alumnus Award winners, and described them as fitting ambassadors for Griffith Business School.
“I’m delighted to present Paul, Olivia and William with their alumni awards tonight,” Professor Grant said.
“Their professional achievements stood out amidst strong competition. The exceptional personal qualities and high standards of leadership that they have exhibited throughout their career is truly worthy of this recognition.
“Not only have they made important contributions to their professions and industries, they have also made significant contributions to the broader community. These qualities make them important role models for current and future students at Griffith Business School.”