The builder of integrity

CATHERINE CARTER salutes Dick Dusseldorp, an entrepreneur who put people before profit.

THE late Dick Dusseldorp AO was a man who demonstrated the power for good in the corporate property world.

Dick Dusseldorp

Founder of the Lend Lease Corporation, he led by example, and was respected for his integrity and the setting of new standards for successful business practice.

This month he was honoured as one of the inaugural inductees of the Australian Property Hall of Fame.

An inspiration to the corporate world, he left a proud legacy to the property industry and to Australian society.

Born in Holland, Dusseldorp arrived in Australia in 1951 to build 200 workers’ houses as part of the Snowy Hydro-Electric Scheme. During the ‘50s he won construction contracts in Canberra and Sydney and, in 1958, launched Lend Lease – a business that would become one of Australia’s most successful construction, real estate and financial services companies.

Lend Lease has been responsible for the construction of landmark buildings across the nation including the first stages of the Sydney Opera House, Australia Square and the MLC Tower in Sydney, the Academy of Science in Canberra and most of the early commercial buildings built in Canberra during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Dusseldorp stood apart from other entrepreneurs by his commitment to the community and to his employees and his ability to look “beyond the horizon” rather than opting for short-term profit. He was ahead of his time with his philosophy on corporate responsibility, noting in the early ‘70s that big business had to justify its worth to society, with “greater emphasis placed on environmental and social impact rather than straight economics”. He was among the first to introduce the concept of developer contributions to infrastructure, and consistently worked with the community and planners to ensure the best urban development outcomes.

He negotiated the first productivity agreement with the NSW building trades union, introduced profit sharing and offered superannuation to his employees decades before it became mainstream to do so. Dick was also committed to helping young people train for employment, establishing vocational education training programs in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia

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