Celebrating Queensland’s Business Leaders from the past and into the future

Queensland Library Foundation

Ken MacDonald AM – June 2020

When inaugural Chairman of the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Governing Committee, John Allpass, invited me to join the Committee in 2011, I was delighted for multiple reasons - I have a lifetime interest in history and believe a sound historical memory is an important foundation for successfully charting the future.

My whole working career has been involved in facilitating and supporting the development of business in Queensland. I have had the privilege of working alongside admirable and outstanding business leaders, some of whom are among our inductees, and  believe deeply in the importance of sound and successful business in providing the necessary material foundations on which our community depends in so many ways.

Since 2009 the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame, founded by the QUT Business School, State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Library Foundation, has inducted some 76 Queenslanders and Queensland businesses. Their digital stories make up a valuable addition to our understanding of the State’s  business history. Each year the Hall of Fame Management and Governing Committees seek to achieve a balance between the past and the present in determining inductees. Among the historical candidates I have some particular favourites.

William Knox D’Arcy ​​​​​​

William Knox D’Arcy , who isn’t but should be a household name to every Queenslander and indeed every Australian. What a story to demonstrate what can be achieved by a young Rockhampton solicitor willing to take risk! For D’Arcy, from relatively obscure beginnings in regional Queensland, went on to invest a fortune made from Mount Morgan’s gold into oil exploration in the Middle East before it was known to hold the rich resources with which we are now familiar. With a final throw of the dice, he struck oil, and founded a company the world now knows as BP!

Sarah Jenyns

Another of my favourites from the past is the story of Sarah Jenyns , who as a mother of eight used innovation and entrepreneurship to create a business regarded internationally as a leader in its field, which lasted nearly 100 years and covered four generations of the Jenyns family. But the innovative business she founded was not centred on information technology as it might be today, it was based on the humble corset, where she revolutionised corset design to produce garments which delivered both pain relief and fashion outcomes.

It is delightful, to hear expressions of surprise when we induct a business that everyone knows but don’t know of its Queensland roots. And so, it was when in 2017 we  announced the induction of Queen. Perhaps best known for its vanilla essence, and still manufacturing from the suburbs of Brisbane the number 1 brand of products in the baking section of Australian supermarkets as it has been for more than 120 years. It was fascinating to learn that the original business name “ Queen of Essences“ was adopted because of Queen Victoria’s known love of baking!

The digital stories of all our inductees can be found at the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame website. I encourage all to have a dip into these inspiring stories and perhaps join us at our next Induction dinner when we celebrate the addition of more amazing businesses and businessmen and women into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame.

On the Hall of Fame website you can also:


Ken MacDonald AM

Chair, Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Governing Committee and Queensland Library Foundation Councillor


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