Carving out a global career in franchise marketing
Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
General Manager Retail, Beaumont Tiles
Since graduating with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) in 1989, Rob McKay has enjoyed a globe-trotting career marketing some of the world’s leading franchising brands.
Rob commenced as General Manager Retail with family-owned company Beaumont Tiles in 2015. Since then, Rob and his team have opened over 20 new stores, including two new Beaumont Studio ‘concept’ stores to target an evolving market, which is showing no signs of slowing down. The company’s association with national television renovation shows, like ‘The Block’ and ‘My House Rules’ has also served to drive connection of the Beaumont Tiles brand with the market.
The Beaumont Tiles group now turns over more than $200 million annually and employs more than 800 people. It has over 110 stores in SA, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales—a third of them company-owned and the rest franchise partners.
“The one thing that is certain about Beaumont Tiles is that we will continue to grow—where that growth is geographically will be determined in time,” says Rob.
Rob’s journey has been one of constant learning and growing, sparked by a conversation he had with his first boss at Coca-Cola.
“I remember feeling so young arriving at South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT) when I was just 16. I didn’t have a driver’s licence and I couldn’t ‘legally’ enter a bar. I went from a feeling of comfort and control at high school to a feeling of uncertainty and anonymity at University. However, the first Monday after my final exam, I walked into my first job at the Coca-Cola Company and I felt ready—my degree gave me a way to think, a problem-solving approach and the ability to take on uncertainty to find clarity,” says Rob.
“My first boss told me to always ask myself if I’m growing. He said growth wasn’t always enjoyable, but if I ever found myself answering ‘no’, I had to go out and find something to help me grow,” he says.
Rob has been setting himself short-, medium- and long-term goals ever since, with the ultimate driver to work internationally, which has led to him experiencing a wonderful variety of opportunities across the entire spectrum.
During his time at Coca-Cola in Adelaide, Rob set and reached his goal of moving to Sydney, bringing him one step closer to his first international stint with the Chevron Corporation—the parent company of Caltex and Ampol — where he spent the next 14 years working throughout Asia, Africa and the United States of America.
In 2008, he returned to Australia with his wife and their young children to take up the role of Group General Manager of Marketing for Asia Pacific and Africa with Luxottica—an Italian company that manufactures eyewear brands like Ray Ban and Oakley, sold through retailers including OPSM and Sunglass Hut stores.
In 2010, Rob took on the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Retail Franchise Group, the parent group of Wendy’s, a South Australian ice-cream chain. His leadership of the Wendy’s franchise system through four of the toughest years of internal and external conditions resulted in its sale to Singapore-based Global Food Retail Group as part of plans to expand into Asia.
“I enjoy working with people and leading change to achieve things that people did not think possible, and this has led to so many things I am hugely proud of in my career,” says Rob.
His achievements speak for themselves. He was a member of the small team that developed the Original Star Mart Convenience Store Concept for Caltex in Australia, a model that is still proving successful. He was responsible for leading the team that turned the performance of US Chevron Extra Mile Franchise on the US West Coast. He steered the team that developed the OPSM AFL Umpire Sponsorship to connect with the most significant market opportunity — males aged 35 to 55 years who do not accept their eyesight is deteriorating, except of course when they are watching the footy.
“The greatest experience I take from working globally is the opportunity to work with different cultures—the work is the same, but the difference is how to align, motivate and drive different teams to achieve things they did not think possible. Working with people from Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe, US and Latin America has helped me to understand that we all think and work differently,” says Rob.
“The challenge is to appreciate the differences and to understand how to make things happen. People come to you from different backgrounds, skills and biases, which means they have different strengths, passions and drivers. My job as a leader is to understand these dynamics and provide support in the areas most needed.”
“I am a proud South Australian with a passion to prove to the rest of the world that SA is a great place to do business, that’s why in addition to my role as General Manager of Retail at Beaumont Tiles, I also sit on the Rundle Mall Management Authority Board and am a member of the UniSA Business School Advisory Board.”