en-us Inspired by Yarra

David Robb

YOG 1971

International Executive

“There was a team ethos at Yarra and it was enjoyable to be part of that."

David Robb was a foundation student at Yarra Valley Grammar and he remembers the School gradually taking shape during his years at school.

Working bees with families, teachers and students were routine and created strong bonds. David says being a Year 7 foundation student also meant that he and his cohort remained the top year at Yarra as the school grew.

“That brought an extraordinary set of leadership opportunities and an accompanying sense of responsibility. We were expected to show the way in terms of academic performance, sporting performance and in our contribution to the School generally,” says David.

“A small cohort meant we were able to try our hand at everything. We were never pigeon-holed. I still believe in being a generalist and taking on the challenge of broad leadership roles if possible. For example, I’d rather be a conductor of a provincial orchestra than be lead violinist in a world-famous orchestra.”

David was Dux of his graduating year and studied Science at Monash University before returning to Perth where he’d spent some of his childhood. He had no career plans until he saw an ad for a general trainee at BP’s oil refinery south of Perth.

“I had a few years of broad exposure in manufacturing, marketing and accounts and then worked in HR before going into marketing and the general management roles,” he says.

That role was the start of a successful career with BP that crossed Australia, the UK, the US and Asia. David also had an executive director role with Wesfarmers before becoming CEO of an international resources company. Now semi-retired, David’s non-executive roles include Melbourne Football Club.

He says resilience has been a key element of navigating a diverse working life.

“Resilience was part of the formula at Yarra – I was captain of the cricket team and we lost every match that we played!” says David.

The importance of having a close-knit network was also reinforced during his school days and still matters to David.

“I have a tight-knit family and we see each other regularly and Yarra had that family feel in the early days, too,” he says.

He is also still inspired by the School motto.

“To me it means being curious, being optimistic and courageous in life’s many choices. It’s about stepping through a door of opportunity if and when it opens in front of you – and be grateful for the start a school like Yarra gives you,” says David.


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