INTHEBLACK November 2021 - Flipbook - Page 32
// M E E T T H E C F O
Graham Talbot FCPA joined
Atlas Corporation and
Seaspan as joint CFO in
January 2021. Talbot now
hopes to grow a recent
acquisition, APR Energy,
into a global player in the
renewable energy sector.
Talbot was educated at the
University of Canberra and
has an MBA from the
Melbourne Business School.
He is a fellow of the
Governance Institute of
Australia and a fellow of the
Previously, Talbot was CFO
at a state-owned Abu Dhabi
corporation, and prior to
this he was based in
Copenhagen with Maersk.
AS TOLD TO ADAM COURTENAY PHOTOGRAPHY JIMMY JEONG
VANCOUVER-BASED GRAHAM TALBOT FCPA IS JOINT CFO OF ATLAS
CORPORATION AND SEASPAN. HE HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF STRONG
COMMUNICATION IN CONVEYING A BUSINESS’S VALUE TO STAKEHOLDERS.
D E MO N STR AT I NG VALU E
Atlas Corporation is an asset management
company with two platforms, maritime and
energy. We recently acquired APR Energy, which
is a world leader in fast-track energy solutions.
Our maritime subsidiary, Seaspan, is the
largest container ship lessor in the world –
double the size of our nearest competitor –
so a lot of my time is spent with investors,
analysts and debt holders.
We are somewhat unique and growing rapidly
in a changing market and therefore need to
effectively communicate our differentiation and
the value it adds. We are also targeting an
investment-grade credit rating, which requires
considerable work to position the business and
its capital structure accordingly.
My role is to match the commercial side of
the business with the financial – how do the
growth prospects look, how are we evolving
the business and how does the balance sheet
support all of that?
I spend much of my time explaining our
business model to the market and
demonstrating how we create value.
We are also in an acquisition phase,
investing about US$4.7 billion (A$6.4 billion),
and we need to make that case, its execution
at each phase and communicate how the
32 ITB November 2021
delivery of the value is being de-risked
through the entire execution phase.
The other part of my role is about how we run
the business internally, which is about employee
culture, organisation design, process efficiency
and, key to us, scalability. Accordingly, we have
very active digital and business transformation
programs to support this.
LEA RN ING FRO M CHA LLEN G ES
Between 2003 and 2008, I was working
for Shell in Kazakhstan on a US$50 billion
(A$68 billion) oil development project. It was
an extremely difficult regulatory and
operational environment. Every day presented
new challenges and, given the scale of the
project, the challenges were always big ones.
This type of environment either breaks you
or makes you stronger. We were operating in
a joint venture company made up of several
very large, successful global companies.
Although this brought a lot of horsepower,
it also required building specific skills to
manage and navigate multiple cultures, both
geographic and organisational.
It was a tough time, but I learned so much
about all aspects of our business, a lot about
myself and built lifelong relationships through
STA KEHO LDER EN GAG E M E N T
We operate a large fleet of ships, with about
5000 staff around the world.
The market tends to bucket us together
with liner companies, which are susceptible
to short-term freight rates – which we are
not, we operate the vessels on their behalf.
Investors and analysts wrongly think we
are susceptible to market volatility when,
in actual fact, the vessels are rented at a
fixed rate on long-term contracts, up to
18 years. The challenges relate to explaining
this to people.
Always listen, because if investors or
analysts have unanswered questions, their
ears stop working.
If you want to convey a message, you
need to prepare the audience to receive
that message. If not, you will not get the
One of my favourite quotes is from Charles
Mingus, who said, “Making the simple
complicated is commonplace; making the
complicated simple, awesomely simple,
This applies to so many aspects of the CFO
portfolio and is a constant guide that I use to
assess both my decision-making and
communication, and that of my team.