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Donald Argus
, 1996

by Kate Gollings

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned (sheet: 60.5 cm x 50.3 cm, image: 50.5 cm x 36.5 cm)

Donald Argus AC (b. 1938), corporate leader, was Chairman of BHP Billiton Ltd from 2000 to 2012. Bundaberg-born and a high-school dropout, Argus began his career in the mailroom of the National Australia Bank (NAB) and worked his way up to hold the position of managing director there from 1990 to 1999, when he became the tenth Chairman of BHP. During his directorship of the NAB Argus oversaw the growth of the organisation into Australia's largest bank, but was still wont to refer to himself as its 'head teller'. He completed his tertiary studies at Harvard at the age of 40, having divided his time between his career, studying, and playing and coaching hockey. Advising business students to 'stick with the fundamentals' such as auditing, he believes that Australians should champion their business leaders rather than complaining about how much profit companies make. He embraces deregulation and globalisation and believes that the Australian banking sector leads the world in enterprise and good management. Since he left the NAB he has also been Chairman of Brambles Industries and a Director of the Australia Foundation Investment Company; he was a Director of Southcorp Ltd from 1999 to 2003, and served on the Board of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games until 2001. Well-known for his support and sponsorship of sports and community activities, Argus has twice been voted Australia's most-admired businessman.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2001
Accession number: 2001.33