Duck soup international style AICD Review

  • Date:01 Jul 2005
  • Type:CompanyDirectorMagazine
Brian Hull’s e-mail address is ducksoup. Duck Soup is also the name of his boat. When I ask what it means, he genially replies, "Piece of cake. You know - no problems."

Duck soup, international style

Ask any participant, and they'll tell you one of the best things about AICD's residential programs are the delegates who attend. Pamela Murray-Jones* found that out for herself when she ditched her normal role as skipper to become a deckhand on the inaugural International Company Directors Course

Brian Hull's e-mail address is ducksoup. Duck Soup is also the name of his boat. When I ask what it means, he genially replies, "Piece of cake. You know - no problems."

Hull was born in Sydney and educated in Tasmania but has lived all his adult life in PNG. He speaks both Hiri Motu and Pidgin fluently. A director of PNGID, former director of the Bank of Papua New Guinea and former executive chairman of NCD Water and Sewerage, Hull runs his own real estate agency in Port Moresby.

He has, however, a way of confounding any preconceptions.

For a start, while his business is selling land, he prefers to live on his boat. He bought Duck Soup, a Banjer 37 built in 1984 to undertake marine biology research, and has lived aboard since 1986.

He says Banjers are very comfortable for one or two people, adding: "The amount of enjoyment one gets from one's boat is inverse to the number of people on board."

Hull has cruised more than 60,000 nautical miles and explored most of the islands around New Guinea, New Zealand, Tonga, Vanuatu, Fiji and much of the Australian coastline, including crossing to the west coast of Tasmania in 1994.

"We crossed Bass Strait both ways in 40 knot SW winds," he says. "Bass Strait is considered to be one of the world's most treacherous seaways. We were down to one knot under staysail and motor going south, and surfing up to 12 knots going north with yankee, reefed main and mizzen. We took no green water on board either way. I have never tried to hove to - though I have thought about it."

Hull has never been one to take the easy path.

While he says many of his director roles in PNG until fairly recent times were rubber-stamping exercises (as most were in the 80s) his most challenging role was in the mid-90s when he was asked to restore water and sewerage to parts of Port Moresby. At the time there was a water carting scam going on that netted the perpetrators $80 million a year.

Within six weeks of taking over as executive chairman, he had eliminated the scam and renegotiated a 22-year $2 billion BOT contract to get things back on track.

Was he afraid of reprisals?

"Absolutely, I had $50,000 placed on my head and travelled around with a bodyguard carrying a 45 calibre pistol and machine gun on the rear seat," he says. "Bit of an insult really. I thought I was worth more."

The case studies in the International Company Directors Course seem tame by comparison, but Hull says he found the course "hugely enjoyable".

"Legislation is so tight now, you just need to know so much more, not just about local legislation, but what is happening elsewhere," he says. "As a career director, I also feel it is up to me to help educate other PNG directors."

"How did you find the assessment?" I ask. 'Piece of cake." he replies.

Or should that be duck soup?

* Pamela Murray-Jones is general manager national education. The International Company Directors Course is designed for directors who work across regulatory frameworks or within an international context. The inaugural course attracted directors from around the world. The next program will be held 4-9 December in Sydney. A small number of scholarships are available to outstanding candidates. Call 02 8248 6620 or see www.companydirectors.com.au

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