LEADERS SURVEY: Endeavour Group CEO Steve Donohue unpacks his daily routine and one word of leadership advice

Adrian Rauso
The Nightly
Steve Donohue, is the chief executive of Endeavour Group which owns Dan Murphy’s, BWS and a plethora of pubs across Australia.
Steve Donohue, is the chief executive of Endeavour Group which owns Dan Murphy’s, BWS and a plethora of pubs across Australia. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

The chief of the company that owns Dan Murphy’s, BWS and a plethora of pubs across Australia says his best nugget of leadership wisdom boils down to nine letters.

“Listening,” Endeavor Group chief executive officer and managing director Steve Donohue told The Nightly for its exclusive Leaders Survey.

“The leaders I admire most are those that listen, and by listening are able to adapt their approach,” he said.

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“There’s often a wider range of views to consider than we’ve thought of so slowing down and being open and considered generally makes for better decisions.

“Positional power is very limited so allowing people to be comfortable enough to tell you what they really think often means being real and vulnerable yourself.”

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He says doing this sometimes can make you “feel really uncomfortable” but believes it’s a key ingredient for a genuine connection, which in itself is the backbone of good leadership.

Mr Donohue has helmed Endeavour since 2018 and guided the ASX-listed giant in its journey as a standalone business after being spun out from Woolworths in mid-2021.

The Endeavour footprint, as per its most recent annual report, includes 1,701 BWS and Dan Murphy stores, 354 hotels, more than 900 bars, and six wineries.

Overseeing the sprawling empire can be a time-consuming feat, but the former Woolies buyer-in-chief makes sure he keeps a stable exercise regime.

“I’m done at the gym by 6.30am and recently switched to a group training format that I’m enjoying. I also do pilates at least once a week,” he said.

“We have three kids at high school so I’m often dropping someone at music or sport in the morning.

“I mix up office time and working from home depending on my schedule and try to avoid peak traffic times.”

Mr Donohue says the “best bit of work” is getting into Endeavour’s pubs and stores, which “generally happens on Fridays or weekends”.

“If I’m not travelling then I aim to be home for the family evening meal where we often unpack the day discussing the best and worst things that happened to us which always makes for a laugh,” he said.

“I generally squeeze in some quiet work time after dinner and always aim for six to seven hours of sleep.”

On a broader market level, Mr Donohue sees the rebound in outbound travel as a key lever of consumer demand.

“After years of travel restrictions it’s great to see Australians travelling again and more flights becoming available,” he said.

“In our industry, we can’t underestimate the role international travel and tourism plays in setting the direction of the drinks industry.

“We often see customers return from overseas travel with a taste for something they’ve discovered in their travels and then that becomes our new drink of the season.”

He believes sharing more data with its 8000 suppliers has enabled Endeavour to better meet the constantly changing demands of its customers.

“We’re sharing more market trends data with our suppliers than ever before - we want them producing what our customers want,” he said.

“In years gone by, some suppliers were running on gut instinct and missing out on consumer trends like the current boom in lemon-flavoured drinks for example.

“Those suppliers were coming under immense pressure when sales of their products started to dry up because consumer tastes had shifted.”

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