SAPN Business Insights

Five minutes with Kevin Jones, CFO

When are you the happiest? 

Probably when I’m cooking a nice dinner. Imagine something like a roast rib of beef, dusted with chilli and mustard and served with sweet potato and celeriac mash, asparagus and a Thai-spiced gravy.

What would a ‘perfect’ day look like for you? 

If I could play a concert with my wife in a really good orchestra (and play well myself) and follow that with a great dinner, probably a curry, with a whole host of friends with laughter and banter, that would be pretty good.

What one memory do you most treasure? 

We had an orchestra, made up of our friends, play at our wedding. When they started to play the opening of the Brahms Variations on a theme by Haydn, I turned around to see my soon-to-be wife beginning the walk down the aisle. That’s the moment.
What was one of the first things you bought with your own money? 

I joined the Army as a French Horn player when I was sixteen years old and I saved up to buy a Sony Walkman, so that I could play music that I liked as well as having to play what we were given to play ever y day. It felt like a small act of independence and self-affirmation in a ver y controlled environment.

What was your first job? 

My first real job was playing the French Horn in the Army, but while I was waiting to join up, I did work for a short time as a trainee industrial chemist in the laboratories of the steel works in Port Talbot. I got all the good jobs like walking over the top of the coke ovens, checking for the amount of pollution coming out of row after row of huge rivets on the top of the structure. It was so hot, I could feel the soles of my trainers starting to melt. I’m proud to see that our thinking on safety has moved on so far in the last thirty-odd years.

What has been your most memorable holiday? 

My honeymoon – it sowed the seeds for my wife and my eventual move to Australia. We went from Wales to Singapore, Perth, Uluru, Alice Springs, Cairns Brisbane and Hong Kong before going home. Four years later, we’d migrated permanently. 

If you could fly a plane anywhere today, where would you go? 

Somewhere I haven’t been, so perhaps Vienna. So cultured and it has one of the world’s great orchestras. 

When was the last time you were nervous? 

I’ve been through a few job interviews recently and that will usually get me going. A lifetime of performing music though is the most unbelievable training for dealing with nerves. If I don’t get at least a little nervous for a performance then I’m probably not going to play my best, so I’ve learned to welcome a little bit of nerves as a sign I’m about to be at my best.

What makes you proud? 

Turning around our safety performance in my previous role at Yarra Valley Water. In the five years or so that I led the safety function (as part of my portfolio as CFO), we reduced our total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) for our own people from over 20 to zero, and that performance has been broadly maintained in the years since I left. Sending everyone home safe at the end of the day is still the best outcome any leader can aspire to.

Who is your role model?

There are so many people whose talents I admire – I’d like to play the Horn like the late Alan Civil, sing like Tommy Körberg or play cricket like Adam Gilchrist. A s a leader, Tony Kelly, who was my first MD at Yarra Valley Water, combined a huge talent for strategy and looking into the future with a gift for knowing and understanding people and their concerns along with a huge dose of humility and humour. I’ll always aspire to be the kind of leader that Tony was.

What is the one thing you will never do again? 

Ski. I did some cross-countr y skiing in my time in the army and I hated ever y moment of it, probably not helped by having zero talent or ability What show are you binging at the moment that you would recommend to watch? Just before I left Sydney, we watched both seasons of Jack Ryan in a fairly short time.