Rod Henderson’s career with Ampcontrol spans a total of 20 years, culminating when he was appointed as Chief Executive Officer in June 2014.
In his current position Rod has full responsibility for all Ampcontrol Group operations including strategic direction, overall profitability, group structure, risk management and growth of the business.
He is also leading the company to diversify its business capabilities to secure future success, including the implementation of key business improvement initiatives to ensure the business is best placed to meet customer demand, in line with the market needs.
- Could you tell us a little about your career path?
I started out as an apprentice electrician at the now closed Kurri smelter and stayed there for four years. I was then lucky enough to do a traineeship straight after that at Alcan as well through the TAFE system, so I am a Hunter TAFE graduate.
I stayed at Alcan as an engineer for a good while and then moved on to Ampcontrol in the early 1990s where I worked in various roles in engineering and then in product management, left in the mid-90s for a while and went to Melbourne to live, came back at the request of the senior management of Ampcontrol in late 1999 and been there ever since.
So various roles through Ampcontrol from product management, operations management and did an MBA at University of Newcastle through 2003-2007 and then worked my way into the executive team of which I am now the CEO.
- What do you believe makes business unique in the Hunter?
I think the diverse range of people that live here in the Hunter Valley make it fantastic and also the amount of people who actually come back to the Hunter Valley after training elsewhere is incredible.
We would have no fewer than four people on our management team at Ampcontrol who are Newcastle born and bred, that have gone away to do work and come back again and add enormous experience to our business, particularly on a global scale like we are.
- What do you believe has shaped your leadership style?
I think primarily the mentors I have had over the years. I have had some wonderful mentors, particularly at Ampcontrol, and each mentor I have had has added something a little bit different each time to my style.
So I think my style is very inclusive now – I like to talk to my people, I like to be out with my people, and share the vision that I have for Ampcontrol and where I want it to go so a very much inclusive style of leadership.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
A leader is very much someone who puts their vision out there – where do we want to go, how do we want to get there, and let’s take ourselves to that spot. But I think a leader is also knowing when we’re going down the wrong path, pulling us back and taking us down the right path. So you should never be afraid to admit we’ve got it slightly wrong and then take us down to where we need to go.
Management in my mind is more about doing the day to day things right and taking the vision of the leader and putting it into place and making it happen.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
I think I find three people in particular very inspiring who have touched my career over the past 15 years. Neville Sawyer and Peter Cockbain, founders of Ampcontrol, both very different leadership styles and both very different type of people but have touched me in a number of ways and I think made me the business person that I am today.
More recently Terry Lawler who is a great mentor and Chairman of Ampcontrol today. We have very detailed discussions about where we want to take the business as a whole but I think those three guys in particular have done very well in the Hunter Valley and on the national stage as business leaders.