The past 24 months have been a rollercoaster for Downer EDI. In 201011, the company posted a $440-million blowout due to extra provisions for its Waratah Train Project. The market, investors, staff, and banks lost confidence in the organisation and Downer EDI looked like it was standing on shaky ground. However, by August 2012 the company reported a strong recovery with profits reaching $112.8 million for financial year 201112. Following an impressive capital raising and restructure of the executive team, Downer CEO Grant Fenn is confident the worst is behind them and the project is back on track.
Grant is a chartered accountant by profession and began his career with big-four auditor KPMG. "I spent the good part of 10 years with them and then joined Qantas", he says. "I was with Qantas for close to 15 years. I started with Downer in October 2009 as the finance director and CFO before becoming CEO in July 2010".
With an extensive background in finance, Grant was an ideal candidate for delivering Downer from disrepair. "I came in off the back of a large writedown and problems with one of our largest projects, the building of the Waratah train", he explains. "The company was at rock bottom in terms of investor sentiment, staff morale, and bankers views of management credibility, so I was coming in at a low point in the history of Downer. There has been a lot of change to get us to the position were in now".