Colin Tate, the chief executive of Conexus Financial, remembers industry legend Mavis Robertson who died on Tuesday.
As a young ad sales guy on the trade title Investor Weekly I was very unsure of how to take Mavis the first times we met. She was the formidable and seemingly dominating woman that knew everyone and certainly threw her weight about, but after engaging with her at an early CMSF conference I got the first signs of her intense commitment to people and her lifelong quest for social and human rights.
At the time my sexuality was rejected by my mother and Mavis was the first woman of a ‘vintage’ similar to my mother to not only delight in my new relationship with Matthew, but to subsequently start conversations with questions about Matthew and I over the next 18 years.
Many others will record her extraordinary career and achievements better than I, like being instrumental in the creation of CBUS, Women in Super, Mothers’ Day Classic, ACSI, AIST, Global Dialogue and the list goes on, however, her commitment to equality, fairness and opportunity, with regards to gender, the indigenous, age, sexuality, socio-economic and the disadvantaged is without par.
During the earliest days of Investment & Technology magazine (today INVESTMENT magazine), Mavis summoned me to a meeting. When Mavis made requests, they were not usually an invitation that could be declined. We had earlier agreed to an exclusive agreement in media terms with AIST.
As we sat on the plastic chairs in the coffee shop below the Grace Hotel in Sydney, she said, it’s time we place Fiona Reynolds on the cover for the upcoming CMSF conference as she thought “Fiona needed a profile”. And Mavis was going to make sure Fiona was soon the CEO.
Mavis made it clear, Fiona not only had the skills for the job but had the best, true understanding of what it meant to be a battler and a blue collar worker, and that she would represent the AIST membership. She was not going to let the opportunity of promoting a woman pass up either. I consulted with the editor at the time, Greg Bright, and Fiona’s image was the full bleed cover on the next issue. Today Fiona, as always, has made Mavis proud, and is in London as the global managing director of PRI, as many reading this will know.
Mavis was constantly behind the scenes making careers grow and advancing the cause – I could never see a motivation for her that was beyond an authentic ‘need’ to leave the world a fairer place.
Over these near two decades, I’ve met this lady in meetings, at conferences, events, parties, weddings, memorials and during travel. She was always the same person, very consistent and always generous in offering her time, ideas, solutions and especially her opinions.
Sadly, I made a promise to her around two years ago at an ASFA conference, (Mavis was now officially retired), to visit her home in Armidale, Melbourne. Mavis wanted Matthews’ interior design advice and we were then to take her to the movies, a French one preferably…. “Life got in the way” and it never happened for which I am very sad.
RIP Mavis, and thank you.