The Cleaner Who Swept His Way to the Top
To the holiday makers and retirees relaxing with a walk along the magnificent Gold Coast beach of Queensland, Australia, Peter Felgate appeared to be just another jogger enjoying his retirement from corporate life. Until recently, the 53-year-old had been a member of the Australian Reserve Bank Board and, as chairman and chief executive officer of Reno Ltd., had been one of the most powerful and highly paid businessmen in the country. Only 12 months earlier, he had reached the pinnacle of his career, which began 37 years before as a janitor in a Reno variety store in South Australia. When he retired, Felgate was the CEO of Reno with a salary package of $1.5 million a year, a mansion in an expensive area in northeast Melbourne and six luxury cars, including a Ferrari and a Bentley. After retiring, he rarely used his mansion, preferring to spend much of his time at his $1.9 million luxury apartment, with its uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean, close to the heart of Surfers’ Paradise.
During his career, Felgate held a series of prestigious posts, including a foundation member of the Business Council of Australia, a board member of Melbourne University’s Graduate School and a member of the Federal Government’s Advisory Committee on Prices and Incomes. The Australian government even awarded him an Order of Australia for his services to the retail industry.
But life was not all sun and relaxation for Felgate. The ...