CFO Interview: Robert Drake of Galaxy Entertainment

Mr. Robert Drake
Mr. Robert Drake

Robert Drake, CFO of Galaxy Entertainment, was recently voted as one of the top 3 CFOs in Hong Kong in a FinanceAsia poll of investors and analysts.

We had a chance to ask him some questions on being a top CFO:

Can you share with us your top 3 challenges in your role as a senior finance executive for one of the top companies in Asia?

Mr. Drake: I joined GEG in April 2008.  That year the company reported revenues of HKD13 billion.  Since then revenues have more than trebled to HKD41 billion today.  Managing such a fast growing business is an amazing challenge, and genuinely exciting, including through the chaotic global financial crisis.

The job isn’t getting any less challenging either, as we recently announced the launch of the HKD16 billion Phase 2 of Galaxy MacauTM which will double the size of our Cotai flagship casino resort to a total of one million square metres upon the completion in mid-2015.

Managing the funding of such a complex project as well as day to day operations is a very significant challenge for our team, and we’ve sent a powerful message to the market that we will be able to fund it from internal resources and debt but no plan to issue equity.

Finally, global equity markets have been volatile for many months. In those circumstances, the challenge is explaining to shareholders that share price movements are sometimes simply down to the vagaries of the market, rather than a reflection of our underlying performance and ambitious plans for the future.

How are you handling these challenges?

Mr. Drake: With a lot of hard work… and I have a strong team to support me.  Communication is vital – whether that’s to colleagues, suppliers, customers or our shareholders.

If a brand new CFO approached you for advice, what would be the top 3 tips you could offer them?

Mr. Drake:

  1. Keep ‘shareholder value’ in mind at all times.
  2. Be as transparent and open as possible, both in terms of reporting and corporate governance, and make sure you clearly communicate where you want to be and how you intend to get there
  3. Be prepared to work hard! Attention to detail is everything. Build a good team around you, the buck stops with you, you’re only as good as your team.

What do you feel are the key factors in being a top CFO?

Mr. Drake: Aside from advanced technical knowledge and skills, a good CFO also needs to have a deep knowledge of the market as well as strong leadership and interpersonal skills especially in a multicultural environment.

Anticipating market changes and being able to react promptly is vital. A CFO also needs to carefully manage the expectations and the different agendas of multiple stakeholders.  More broadly, the CFO needs to believe in the business model and have a good team spirit to work closely both with the CEO and the board, and with team members.

One of the themes we’re looking at this year is hiring & retaining top finance talent and developing a top notch finance team. Can you offer any tips and challenges you’ve faced in this area?

Mr. Drake: GEG has successfully demonstrated its ability to attract and retain world class talent.  You should ask my colleagues!  Like in any business, you need to manage and incentivise your team and encourage career progression.

It is important to recruit the right people who share the company’s values and ethics and to give them opportunities to thrive within the team and the organisation. We are committed to engaging with all team members and we genuinely provide our employees with the opportunity to take an active interest in the business and their own personal development. Thank you to Mr. Robert Drake and the Investor Relations team at Galaxy Entertainment for taking the time to help us with this article/interview.