Samantha Hutchinson Reporter

Samantha writes on exports, Islamic finance and the business of doing business across borders. Before moving into journalism she worked in executive recruitment and public policy.

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CEO Q&A: Alexie O’Brien

Published 16 August 2012 05:00, Updated 20 August 2012 07:19

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What was your first job?

A Woolworths (cashier) when I was in high school. Cash registers were manual and we had to memorise the fruit and veg prices.

What has been the most challenging task of your professional career?

I was Asia Pacific finance director for a fire protection company. I was travelling five days a week across Asia, leaving a young son at home. We were rebuilding the business after some corrupt and fraudulent business practices. It taught me a lot about how capable I was.

What is the best deal you’ve ever made?

Exiting private equity partners early enough to use their capital but before they could have too much influence on the brand execution of Lululemon in Australia.

And the worst? What did you learn?

[On the] location and size of a retail store, the structure of the deal was percentage rent. We went too small, outperformed and ended up paying too much.

Where do you do your best thinking?

In my chicken pen. I love watching the chickens scratch around and take that analogy into problems I am trying to solve – digging around till I find the answer, or the right question to ask.

What is your worst habit?

I’m addicted to the “crackberry”. Like Pavlov’s dog, when the red light flashes, I have to pick it up and check.

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