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Take 5 with Antony Cohen

Antony Cohen

We catch up with KPMG's former Head of Energy & Natural Resources, Antony Cohen.

We catch up with KPMG's former Head of Energy & Natural Resources, Antony Cohen.

Antony Cohen
Last role at KPMG Head of Energy & Natural Resources
Time with KPMG 1981 – 2009
KPMG office Melbourne
Current roles
(as of May 2019)
CFO, Longview
Chairman, AUDiMED Ltd
Non-Executive Director, Unified Healthcare Group
Non-Executive Director, QuickFee
Independent advisor, Wingate Group
Independent advisor, family office

Antony Cohen held multiple leadership positions at KPMG, including Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Head of Valuations, Head of Industry Restructuring and Privatisation, Head of Energy and Natural Resources and member of the firm’s Australian Board of Directors. Subsequent to KPMG, Antony was CFO and then CEO of the electric vehicle infrastructure provider Better Place Australia and, currently, is CFO of LongView Real Estate, as well as Non-Executive Director or advisor to several public and not-for profit organisations.

Describe your career journey in 3 words:

1. Non-linear (I was the only non-accounting graduate hired by the Firm in 1981 and had what I describe as 7 different roles over my 28 years with the Firm before the diverse roles I have had since)
2. Exciting (I had the opportunity to work on large, complex projects and in multiple countries as well as to lead and build businesses)
3. Challenging (the intellectual and other challenges were very large).


You held multiple senior leadership roles at KPMG. What led you to transition into real estate?

Our experience is that residential real estate investors don’t receive the professional expertise and service that equity investors do from firms such as KPMG. We have set out to change that by building an agency focussed on the needs of real estate investors. To do this we must do the basics well and overlay this with unique offerings (such as offering guaranteed rent and portfolio review services) to meet the unmet needs of real estate investors.

 

Do you have any advice for our readers who may be thinking of switching career?
Be Bold. The reaction of colleagues when I left the Firm to be CFO of Better Place was almost identical to that when I took a year’s sabbatical in 1989 – Half said “I wish I had the guts to do that” the other half asked “How can you do that in the middle of your career?”.


Are there any obstacles or challenges you’ve faced in your career, which have helped you get to where you are today?

Dealing with complex personalities teaches one that a range of tactical approaches are necessary for success.


Of all your accomplishments so far, what makes you proudest?

The work the team I lead did to restructure the Victorian energy industry (now often wrongly maligned) was a very important structural reform for the Victorian and Australian economy. It was also a great example of a large cross functional team working very well. (Unfortunately our Political leaders have failed dismally to ensure that the markets evolve to deal with the different problems we face today as opposed to those we were solving over 20 years ago.)


What was one of the most valuable things you learnt during your time at KPMG?

Always challenge the status quo.


If you had an extra 10 hours a week, what would you do?

Spend more time with the family and on my bike (and maybe clear some things off the to-do list). My wife says clean up the study.


Name three people you admire and why?

1. Michael Ullmer and the late John Anderson were very important mentors for my career at KPMG.
2. Alan Stockdale was an incredibly engaged, supportive and focussed Treasurer of Victoria throughout the six years of our energy reform program. The success of the program owes a great deal to him.
3. Jim Stynes leadership at the Melbourne Football Club and in the Community was truly inspirational. (Go Dees!)


What’s the best career advice you can offer?

Work is a big part of life not something apart from it. Work with people you like and trust. Enjoy it.

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