5 great quotes from outgoing Myer CEO Bernie Brookes on leadership

Getty/ Lisa Maree Williams

Bernie Brookes has stepped down as CEO of Myer department store and has been replaced by the retailer’s supply chain chief, Richard Umbers, effective immediately.

Brookes said: “Myer is a fantastic company with an iconic brand and legacy that I remain incredibly passionate about. While there is no doubt that there are many challenges facing the business, I do believe Myer has a strong future ahead of it. After almost nine years, the time is now right for me to pass on the reins.”

Bernie was appointed CEO and MD of Myer in June 2006 and has been a member of the Board since July 2006.

He has been responsible for the 100-year-old business’ overhaul and turnaround.

Brookes has had more than 36 years retail industry experience and held numerous executive roles at Woolworths, as well as roles in Indian retail and in China.

To reflect on his time as the head of Myer, here are some quotes from one of Australia’s most prominent businessmen over the last decade.

On what it takes to be a good leader

“I think a couple of the adjectives I’d use to describe the things you use a lot are worldliness and multiskilling. They are probably the two DNA characteristics that are really important.

“I had the opportunity to work in Indian retail, to work in China, and to spend a lot of time working overseas in different roles and different assignments. And suddenly you’ve got a wider span of worldliness of how retail works and how management works.”
October 1, 2014.

On Australia’s leadership

“Regardless of which party holds office we just look for certainty in policy, certainty in leadership and stability, and we’re not getting that at the moment.

“I think that’s not good for consumer confidence and certainly not good for the perception that overseas investors and overseas travellers have of Australia as well.

“We can become very much the laughing stock overseas and I think that’s disappointing.”
February 8, 2015.

On working your way up

“I was a trolley boy, I was a buyer, I was a store manager, I was a general manager, I was a change agent, I worked in IT. I worked in such a multitude of tasks that now I understand all of the roles.

“I think the day of a CEO moving from being a planner to training buyer to buyer to merchandise manager to CEO is gone. You’ve got to diversify and to be doing operations, or stores as it’s called, then do buying.”
October 1, 2014.

His top business tips

“1. Read as much as you can about the industry that you’re in.
2. Be an active listener to those around you.
3. You never get in trouble for over communicating.
4. Never take no for an answer even if it means becoming ‘prickly’ at times.
5. Smack or belt yourself if you find your feet getting off the ground or your head too big?.”

On continuing to learn

“You must be very creative in coming up with ideas and solutions to things and you’ve got to be inquisitive so that you’re reading as much as you can, looking at what’s on the web and finding out things, and travelling a lot.”
October 1, 2014.

Brookes also had his fair share of confusing remarks. Read more about that here.

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