Qld WorkCover hires NSW super fund exec for top job

The $4.3 billion Queensland Government workers’ compensation and insurance business, WorkCover Queensland, has recruited Bruce Watson as its new chief executive.

Watson has already moved, with his wife, to Brisbane from picturesque Lake Macquarie, north of Newcastle, NSW, for the role, which commenced on January 2. His recruitment followed the retirement of Tony Hawkins, who had been chief executive of the business since 1998.

Watson was previously the chief executive of the coal industry fund Wealth Mine + Wellbeing (formerly AusCoal) for 11 years, and before that a trustee director of the fund, overseeing its growth from about $3 billion in assets under management and 30 employees to about $10 billion under management and more than 200 employees as of last year. He left in February last year to pursue new challenges. It seems he has found one.

In recent years, at Mine Wealth + Wellbeing, Watson insourced administration with an investment in fintech super administration company Recreo, which replaced DST’s Bluedoor as administration systems provider. He also oversaw a move of the head office from Warners Bay, near Port Macquarie, about 15kms away to Newcastle’s CBD – partly to improve member reporting because of better internet service. He revamped and provided considerably extra resources for the internal investment team, under CIO David Bell, and recruited Stephen Rowbottom from HostPlus to a newly created role as CFO.

Watson also picked up the prestigious Fund Executive of the Year Award, from the Fund Executives Association Ltd, along the way, in 2010 (pictured).

The Queensland WorkCover role will hardly run at an easier pace, though. Watson will now be overseeing about 720 employees and dealing with a ‘self-insured’ system involving all the issues one would expect in workers’ compensation claims, at the same time trying to maintain a solid return on the investment pool.

Watson said last week that he would be keeping a close eye on investments, along with the administration parts of the role and technological developments.

Glenn Ferguson, WorkCover Queensland chair, said in a statement prior to Christmas: “Bruce is an outstanding and proven CEO with a demonstrated track record of delivering sustainable financial performance and customer service excellence in the financial services sector…”