5 mins with… Gavin Ward


What scares you?

A failure to keep our group moving forward. If you aren’t advancing, then you are falling behind, and it is too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day rhythm of business.

What’s your life philosophy?

Always treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself.

What’s your specialist subject?

In my private life, my passion for sailing. In business, I would say marketing.

What are you most proud of?

My family.

Best compliment you’ve ever received?

When my son had a major achievement in his job and he told me that his success was due to what I had taught him.

What would you cook for a dinner party?

Paella. It’s meant to be shared with friends. Done well, it’s a taste explosion.

Your favourite gadget?

My iPad.

Best way to spend the weekend?

Boating: either working on my boat, spending time with my family on it, or racing.

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?

Australian yachtsman James Spithill. Despite losing the 2017 America’s Cup, he has grown from a school boy sailor to the peak of performance on outstanding new boats. It would be amazing to understand the thrill and passion of working with such awe-inspiring teams.

If the world had a President, who would you vote for?

Barrack Obama – the man has long-term vision and passion.

What kind of music do you like?

My music is very varied and depends on what I am doing. Currently, I would say Mumford & Sons. I like their mix of pop and bluegrass which makes them unique.

If you could have the answer to any question, what would you ask?

How do you get people to understand the concept of working together for the common good, supporting each other’s growth?

Your childhood ambitions?

A passionate and happy life. I have pretty well ticked most of that.

What’s your favourite place to visit
in Australia?

Hamilton Island. It is one of the great wonders of the world and fantastic for a holiday. It also hosts Australia’s largest offshore sailing regatta.


Describe your current job.

As CEO of dealer group Office Brands, my job is to be the central interpreter of members’ needs, the objectives of our suppliers, and the guardianship of shareholder assets. I find all of these aspects demanding and yet rewarding challenges.

Your worst ever job?

I can’t say I have ever really had a bad job. All have had issues, but the process of dealing with those has been what has developed and shaped the career I have enjoyed.

Which industry figure do you most admire?

I have a lot of people I hold in high esteem so it’s hard to single out a particular figure. At the moment, I particularly admire founder and CEO of Complete Office Supplies Dominique Lyone. I have spent a large part of my life supporting independent businesses and Dom is a man who started with very little and made it into an empire.

I regard him as a fierce competitor and a man of strong ethics. A number of members in our own group exhibit similar tendencies, but I think Dom is an outstanding competitor.

Your best piece of advice to someone who has just joined the OP industry?

Don’t bury yourself in what the industry has been or is today. Look to where it’s going and make sure you allocate time and energy to move towards that direction, by picking a new market or channel and focusing on it to get it right. Then do it again. Use the resources you have to find mentors that can help you move ahead with these new tasks.

What personal item do you have on your desk?

A barometer. It reminds me of the sea, which has a very calming influence.