From Wallabies flanker to corporate growth, Jeff Miller has always led from the front

A passion for empowering talented and motivated people has led Kooyong Group’s newly appointed Chief Growth Officer Jeff Miller on a pathway from professional Rugby to corporate leadership.

Packing into a scrum next to John Eales and Phil Kearns might seem like an unusual place to find a future business leader, but the elite Wallabies Rugby Union environment has been fostering free thinkers and strong leaders for decades.

The most recent example of this is Kooyong Group’s newly appointed Chief Growth Officer Jeff Miller, former flanker for the Australian Wallabies and Queensland Reds Rugby Union teams. Jeff joins the business after 15 years at Investec and Bank of Queensland Specialist, the most recent 10 months of which he spent as acting CEO.

2021 is a time for reflection and celebration for both Kooyong Group and Jeff Miller. After celebrating its fifth birthday at the end of the financial year, Kooyong Group is enjoying unprecedented growth, with Miller as their newest appointment. While celebrating his new start, Miller will also be reflecting on the 30-year anniversary of the Wallabies 1991 World Cup victory. He says his time as a player and as a coach in Australia’s elite Rugby Union circles were pivotal to his leadership development, and credits former head coach Rod Macqueen as a key influence.

“Rod was very much a lateral thinker. The way that he thought about things was uniquely different, which allowed him to revolutionise the way the Wallabies played by bringing a new level of professionalism and a vision for how the game is played. I took a lot of learnings away but the two that have stuck with me is to have an open mind to different ideas and challenge convention, and the other is building complementary teams by selecting the right people and then nurturing them so that they are empowered and motivated to be able to deliver.”

Miller clearly has taken Macqueen’s ‘lateral thinking’ mantra on board, and it has seen him prosper in professional sporting circles, corporate governance, strategic planning and even on the elite Sudoku circuit. His multi-faceted background fuels his entrepreneurial mindset, something he has tried to foster throughout his career path.

“I’m actually a physical education teacher by training and taught for three years but at that time I started playing for the Wallabies. I joined TNT Express, they had an affiliation with Rugby at that point in time and worked with them over a 10-year, period. I’ve done everything from sales manager, regional manager, and then manager of the combined entity TNT Express Worldwide. From there, I went into Rugby as the inaugural high-performance manager and Wallabies assistant coach. After Rugby, I joined Investec.”

Dealing with transition and change is something Jeff is well versed in, given his time with national Rugby Union circles during the professionalisation era. That experience is particularly useful given the transition Kooyong Group is undergoing, with Avant Mutual increasing its ownership to 55% of market share, something that Miller believes brings great opportunity for both businesses.

A continued focus on people & culture will be pivotal for Kooyong Group as it grows on several different fronts despite the economic climate created by COVID-19.

“I see this transition as giving us the ability to work with highly motivated people that are skilled and driven, and the ability to build something special over a period of time, which is aligned with what I’ve done previously both in Rugby Union and with BOQ Specialist. I’m excited to grow this business in a measured and beneficial way for our members, the medical professionals that we can help, who in turn, help others.”

In line with Miller’s sentiments, Kooyong Group announced last month the launch of a new securitisation warehouse to be released in January 2022. The warehouse has been established to raise capital that in turn will be used to provide doctors with loans to help them start, grow and invest in their practices.

Avant Mutual has invested the first $200 million dollars to support the establishment of the fund.

“In September 2021, Kooyong Group’s loan book reached $500 million in less than three years. The expectation is that the book will reach $1 billion by April 2022 with no sign of slowing.” said founder and former CEO James Ostroburski.

“I am very proud of what our team has been able to achieve in such a short period of time. Our goal is to be recognised as Australia’s leading lender for doctors within the next few years. With Jeff’s appointment, I can’t wait to see what results we can deliver in 2022 and beyond,” Ostroburski says.