Ian McLeod

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What made you choose GCU and your specific course? 

I knew I wanted to go to University but i didn't really know what course to take. I also knew that I wanted a career in Commerce but wasn't sure in what area. The Business Studies course I selected offered a strong commercial grounding and included a year in industry which I believed would help me get a job when I graduated ... it did!              

What are your memories of University?  Were you involved in any clubs or societies?

Cheese cloth shirts, Dessert boots, jeans ... and permed hair! I enjoyed the variety and the classes. The lecturers were a great bunch overall, great on their subjects and didn't take themselves too seriously.. they made the classes interesting .. and they cared about their subjects .. and their class. 

How has your career progressed since graduation? Did your qualification aid you?

The qualification and grounding certainly helped me through the years .. I should have paid more attention in Dr Cooper’s classes on Discounted Cash Flow and Return on Capital though! It would have saved me time later on!

Initially, I started as a graduate trainee in Grocery Retailing.. at the time people said I was wasting my education, but as I have ended up running businesses as a CEO, nothing could be further than the truth ... but being prepared to get to start at the grass roots of a business was also invaluable ; people often underestimate that value. 

Can you tell me more about your current role?

I am President and CEO of Southeastern Grocers which is based in Florida. We have 750 stores across 7 states through a series of acquisitions made in recent years by our Private Equity owners. The stores have not been performing very well and I have been involved in business transformation programs before with some degree of success which is why I presume they hired me about 18 months ago. 

What is your greatest professional achievement?

The turnaround of Coles Supermarkets in Australia. Coles is a chain of 750 supermarkets, 700 Liquor Stores and 650 Petrol Stations. It was acquired by Wesfarmers the largest conglomerate in Australia for $20bn in 2007 and I was appointed CEO to drive change. Through a series of programs embracing efficiency, operating standards, price investment, product quality and store design development we took the business from $28bn revenue per year and $750m profit to $37bn and $1.6bn profit in 6 years, outperforming the market for over 20 consecutive quarters. 

What advice would you give to current students and new graduates?

Get the best degree you can, present yourself to employers professionally, be committed to the company first and yourself second and despite your illustrious qualifications, demonstrate humility from those that don't and learn from them .. determination and hard work without complaint and the rewards will come.

What are your future plans, both professionally and personally?

Professionally, to do the best I can to improve Southeastern Grocers performance in a very competitive market and personally .. continue as I have always done to act with integrity. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I never seem to have much! .. but my wife and I have family in both hemispheres , so international travel is both a necessity and a pleasure. I enjoy seeing family and spending time with them. I watch sport more than play it these days, but still run and try to keep fit.  

Ian McLeod

President & CEO
Southeastern Grocers LLC 

BA (Hons) Business Studies 1981