Successful SA Industry Leaders

Robert Hill-Ling AO

Personal History
RD (Bob) Hill-Ling was an active supporter and valued adviser to the Industry Leaders Fund. Sadly he passed away on 20 November 2015. He is fondly remembered with gratitude.

Bob was the first cadet engineer at Hills Industries Limited in 1951, commencing as a driver and shop floor supervisor. He graduated as a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) in 1957, and was progressively promoted at Hills to become Managing Director in 1967.

He formed several networks including his classmates at university, including such well known South Australian industry leaders as Professor Emeritus Sam Luxton (designed the Olympic Torch), Malcolm Kinnaird AC AO (Kinhill, Adelaide Brighton etc) and Ian Webber AO (Mitsubishi, Mayne Nickless etc).

Bob was married to Rosemary and has two daughters and a son.

His leadership abilities were recognised by invitations to be a director on numerous company boards, including Argo Investments and Korvest.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1981 for services to Industry and the Community.

Bob took corporate social responsibility seriously, and contributed to the community as director of several charities and not for-profit-boards, including Bedford Industries Limited and the Carrick Hill Trust. Bob also served in the CMF (Army Reserve) with the Adelaide University Regiment, and was a member of Rotary for over 30 years.

On the industry front, he took a great interest in the Engineering Employers Association SA as a member for 34 years and as President. He also contributed to the Metal Trades Industry Association in Canberra. He was a Foundation Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.

He was the only South Australian on the new Parliament House Construction Authority in the 1980s.

Views on what makes a leader successful
Bob said that one can be and do whatever one wishes, provided one has the will, plans action carefully and works accordingly. There is no substitute for hard work and tenacity.

Essentially one needs the backing of one’s partner. Selection of a good, faithful, intelligent partner is the first task to tackle for ultimate success in any vocation.

Regular early contact with people on the ‘shop floor’ is necessary to understand how people think and react to any information or communication from management.

Bob was quoted as saying, “I was grateful to have spent time as a driver and also on the factory floor in my early life. People skills are always the most important ingredient for success in advancement to managerial capability. To be a real leader one must have vision, be able to solve problems analytically and be capable of communicating clearly.”

“It helps to know also, how one can devise and visualise the path to accomplishment and the strategy to be followed.”

“I also found involvement in community affairs through Rotary or similar organisations was valuable, as of course is the gradual development of friendly ties in all sides of politics.”

“Naturally one must also be and be seen to be fair, honest, loyal, and transparently humble.”

“Recognising that technology and innovation breed progress means that team selection is a vital factor to get where the organisation must go. Also mastering control through the application of timely financial information is mandatory, and yes, you can do it.”

Robert Hill Ling AO