Class of 1991
Managing Director – Industrials Division, Wesfarmers
Page 13 of the 1991 John Paul College Yearbook reveals a photo of a young David Baxby. In the photo, David and his ‘Wall Street Warlord’ teammates display the trophy they have received as Queensland winners of the Sharemarket Game conducted by the Australian Stock Exchange.
It seems David’s predilection for the world of commerce and industry was piqued at a relatively young age.
David joined John Paul College as a Year Ten student in 1989, the eldest of three brothers who would all go on to be highly successful in their own right. His mother, Nanette Carroll, built her own business legacy.
Some hard truths from influential teachers, Barry Neighbour and Steve Mapstone, saw David re-evaluate his academic commitment.
‘At the end of Year Eleven, Steve Mapstone sat me down and told me I wasn’t going to university unless I put my head down. I never looked back from that moment.’
David’s renewed dedication in Year Twelve earned him the ‘KH Farmer Memorial Award’ at Speech Night and a half scholarship to attend Bond University. This allowed him to complete Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees in three years instead of the usual five.
Following graduation from Bond in 1994, David worked for Arthur Anderson and Rothchilds before moving to Goldman Sachs. He was appointed partner at age 31.
David returned to Australia in 2001 having worked for two years in the London office of Goldman Sachs and in 2003 advised the Virgin Group on the Initial Public Offering and sale of a 50 per cent stake in Virgin Blue, working closely with Richard Branson.
The following year, Richard approached David to work for the Virgin Group and he was subsequently appointed CEO of Virgin’s Asia Pacific Region, with responsibility for Virgin Mobile, Virgin Active, Virgin Money and Virgin Australia. He was also appointed as the Global Head of Aviation, based out of Geneva, Sydney and Shanghai.
After time in Shanghai exploring new opportunities, David moved to Geneva in 2008 to oversee Virgin’s investments in aviation. By 2011, he was co-CEO of the Virgin Group, earning the title, ‘Richard Branson’s right-hand man’.
Following Virgin, David was appointed CEO of Global Blue and has held directorships of Virgin Australia, Velocity Frequent Flyer, Unlockd and Workpac, and has chaired Frontier Digital Ventures.
David returned to Australia in 2016 and is currently the Managing Director of Wesfarmers Industrials Division overseeing 6,000 employees and $6 billion in revenue.
He is the recipient of the Robert Stable Alumni Medal from Bond University for exceptional achievements by a graduate
Reflecting on his JPC days, David says he’s grateful for the grounding he received that he has sought to carry throughout his career and life.
‘Tolerance and respect for myself and others regardless of religion, gender or socio-economic background,’ were strong core values learned at school.
He also points to a ‘little competitive tension’ between his brothers, ‘a strong internal compass towards hard-work and determination,’ and life mentors in his wife, Selina and mother, that have guided his outstanding success.