As CEO of Virgin Management Asia Pacific, David Baxby is responsible for managing Virgin’s investment portfolio in the region and reports directly to Richard Branson. At 32, he is also the youngest person on the BRW list of the top 20 expatriates aged 45 and younger.
But just a little over eleven years ago, the ink was barely dry on his Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from Bond University.
When David finished Year 12 at Brisbane’s John Paul College, all he knew was that he wanted to do “something in finance”.
“I’d been involved in the Sharemarket Game at high school but I was really more into sports than studying,” he says. “It was only in Year 12 that I decided to focus on schoolwork.”
Achieving a TE score of 990 (equivalent to an OP1 in today’s money) afforded him plenty of choice when it came to selecting a university. It also attracted a scholarship at Australia’s first private university – Bond on the Gold Coast.
“Bond appealed to me because it was still very new in those days. I went to the Open Day and found that they were really trying to do something different. Talking to the lecturers and students, I felt that they were all there for the same reason and that they were the right people for me to be with.”
Keeping his career options open, David opted to apply half of his scholarship to a Bachelor of Law and the other half to a Bachelor of Commerce. Bond’s three-semesters-a-year schedule would enable him to complete both degrees in three years.
“One of the big advantages of the Bond program was its flexibility. They allowed me to pick and choose subjects within each degree that were relevant to my career plans – in Law, for instance, I was able to focus on commercial and tax law as opposed to more courtroom-focussed subjects. You just can’t do that at other universities.”
David also found that being at Bond in those early days allowed him and his fellow students to put their mark on the university.
“I had a chance to contribute to creating the culture at a new university by helping to establish campus groups like the Liberal Party and the Rowing Club. We really felt we could make a difference.”
As for the financial investment in his education, David found that it “paid off ten-fold” within his first few years in the workforce by virtue of the fact that he’d finished his studies years earlier than he would have at any other university and that he then had his choice of world-class companies to work for.
Fielding plenty of job offers on graduation, David opted to join Arthur Anderson’s corporate finance division and, after 18 months, moved to Rothschild’s then Goldman Sachs.
“I came into contact with Virgin when I was appointed to act as their Advisor while working for Goldman Sachs in their London office.
“When I returned to Australia as co-head of Goldman Sach’s consumer and industrials group, I took responsibility for the sale of 50% of Virgin Blue to Patrick Corporation and the public float of Virgin Blue.”
In June 2004, Richard Branson asked David to come and work for the Virgin group directly, and he joined as Chief Executive of Virgin Management Asia Pacific.
In addition to managing their investments in Virgin Blue, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Money, Virgin Atlantic, V2, Virgin Mega stores and Virgin Radio, David is also now a Non-Executive Director on the Virgin Blue board in Australia.
As part of Virgin’s strategy to take advantage of the rapidly expanding Chinese market, David will relocate from Sydney to Shanghai this month with his wife and three children. At the top of his list are plans to launch Virgin Mobile in China, while he will also orchestrate the brand’s expansion in to India and Japan.