Fellow of the University of Wollongong
Citation orated by Professor Alex Frino.
Chancellor, I present Michael Cole.
Michael Cole is a successful corporate man. Over a 40 year career, he has held positions of power and influence as an economist, financial executive and company director. As impressive as that is, however, it is part of a richer story that tells of a strong code of ethics and service and an enduring commitment to community, education and the land.
After graduating with Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Economics, Michael progressed to management level in Bankers Trust Australia and the State Superannuation Board. He has since been appointed as Director or Chair of entities at the top of the country’s financial and investment community. They include continuing roles with State Super Financial Services Limited, Platinum Asset Management Ltd, NSW Treasury-Corp, IMB Ltd and Ironbark Capital Limited.
Another line on Michael’s life graph runs parallel to his exceptional rise in the corporate world. It traces an altruistic path, focussed on sharing skills, resources and knowledge with the community.
Under Michael Cole’s leadership, the IMB Community Foundation has sponsored over 300 projects in the Illawarra, South Coast, Southern Highlands, Sydney and the ACT to the tune of approximately $5 million. They include the Illawarra Drug Awareness Group (Life Education), Wollongong Conservatorium of Music scholarships, The Lawrence Hargrave Centre, various Mens’ Sheds, and the Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (SCARF).
Michael Cole’s commitment to other initiatives for sustaining the dairy industry appear incongruous at first. The explanation goes back to the mid 19thcentury when his family settled in Jamberoo. His attachment to the area and its farming community are at the core of one of his more oddly-titled projects – the Cows Create Careers Program. Established in 2004 to promote career and education opportunities in the dairy industry, the program now involves 200 schools and 10,000 students. Supported by the IMB Community Foundation, it has 426 volunteers, including dairy farmers and industry advocates. Michael is also part of the DairySage Mentoring program which assists people in the dairy industry to establish and formalise meaningful and rewarding mentoring partnerships.
As an extension of his commitment to local communities, Michael serves on Kiama Council as a community representative and he is the author of the 2008 NSW Government Inquiry into the Investments of Local Councils.
To the University’s great benefit, Michael has also served on our high-level investment and finance committees in an honorary capacity since 2011. He has played a key role in assuring UOW’s financial health and prospects, particularly in the wake of the global financial crisis. His experienced advice has been thorough and expertly attuned to emerging risks. His most recent contribution has helped to steer the financing arrangements for the student accommodation expansion, a project that seeks to improve student access and engagement with the learning experience.
Chancellor, Michael Cole is a highly respected business man who has left a positive mark on Australia’s leading corporations. He is, moreover, an exemplary citizen and a generous champion of education. He continues to be a great friend and counsellor to this University and to the Illawarra community.
It is a great privilege to present Michael Cole for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.