Travels from: Queensland
Categories: Business Speakers
Full Presenter Profile & Bio
Brett Godfrey conceptualised and wrote the business plan for what is now Virgin Australia. He was the founding Chief Executive and implemented that vision in August 2000, with two planes, two routes and 200 staff. When he stepped down in 2010 after more than a decade at the helm, Virgin was Australia's second largest carrier, with 7,000 staff, moving nearly 20 million 'guests' annually and turning over more than $3 billion pa. He is recognised and honoured as an innovator and leader in global aviation.
He was educated at Victoria University in Melbourne, graduating with honours and a Bachelor of Business Degree before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Touche Ross. He also spent time working for the firm's Canadian arm.
The aviation bug bit soon after when he returned to Australia and joined Sherrard/National Jet in Melbourne as their Financial Controller.
Brett's Virgin career began in the early 90's when he moved to the UK to join the hugely successful airline Virgin Atlantic, the premier international carrier based in London, as Finance Manager.
After three years in that role, he moved on to Belgium and his next challenge when he was handpicked to represent Virgin's interests in the acquisition of a new European low fare carrier – Virgin Express. Brett was part of the team that took the airline public in 1997 and was promoted shortly after to the role of CFO.
With Richard Branson they planned and plotted during 1999 making a surprise announcement in Sydney on November 30th 1999 of Virgin's intentions to become Australia's newest and freshest airline. His vast experience in both the premium and low fare markets perpetuated by his passion for the aviation industry ultimately led to the plan to help shake up the cozy Australian aviation market.
In early 2000, Brett Godfrey moved with his wife and children from Brussels to Brisbane and set up Virgin Blue's headquarters. He and his team spent eighteen months turning the concept into reality. Ten years on Virgin Blue is one of Australia's leading low fare airlines.
The secret of his success has been an unwavering commitment to leadership and culture. It is legend in the industry that monthly he would see the 'world' through the eyes of his customers and staff; donning a check-in uniform or baggage handler overalls to work the line. He never sat at the pointy end of one of his airline's flights, always taking the very back or worst seat to ensure he truly understood what his guests experienced with a view to continuous improvement.
Brett has been awarded the Centenary Medal for his service to Tourism and Aviation, was recognised as the Australian Chief Executive of the Year by the Institute Of Customer Service and the Outstanding Chartered Accountant in Business, by the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Today Brett is taking a break of sorts, but invests in new ideas, participates on a small number of boards and has a particular interest in several tourism assets including Makepeace Island resort at Noosa in collaboration with Richard Branson and the iconic Quamby Estate and country club in Tasmania.