It is a really exciting day for RedBalloon as the board; Chair Ken Boundy, my business partner Peter Simson and I announced to the team – that we have appointed a new CEO. Here is the announcement circulated today.
RedBalloon today announced the appointment of Nick Baker as its new CEO. Baker joins RedBalloon after seven highly successful years as Chief Marketing Officer of Tourism Australia, during which time he and his team were responsible for three of Tourism Australia’s most successful global campaigns and one of the world’s most effective social media marketing strategies.
Baker says he is passionate about the ‘experience’ industry and is ready to take on new challenges in an entrepreneurial environment. RedBalloon offers more than 3000 unique experiences from more than 1000 providers across Australia and New Zealand, and it is the future expansion of these experiences and the company’s customer base which convinced Baker to join the RedBalloon team.
“I considered a lot of interesting roles after Tourism Australia, but RedBalloon was the one that I could not turn down,” Baker says. “The company ethos – recognition of its employees as the key to its success – and customer experience as its main purpose played a significant part in my decision. At RedBalloon there is a definite sense of people being part of something bigger than themselves, and I am really excited about leading and working with its fantastic team.”
He adds, “The importance of experiences in people’s lives and the tremendous value they can bring in employee performance, as well RedBalloon’s recognition of its own employees as key to its success, appealed to me most.”
Baker had a highly successful record as CMO of Tourism Australia. He took over in the wake of the ‘So Where the Bloody Hell Are You?’ campaign, and went on to create and manage three of its most successful campaigns, as well as high-profile events, including bringing Oprah Winfrey to Australia. During his time at Tourism Australia, visitor numbers to Australia grew steadily. It is Baker’s ability to further grow business that RedBalloon is counting on. As CEO, Baker will focus on further expanding RedBalloon’s customer and merchant base, as well as exploring new markets – particularly the growing tourism market. He is also in the process of recruiting a new head of marketing, to help implement his vision for the company.
Baker also played a significant role in transforming the portfolio of Voyages Hotels & Resorts, one of Australia’s early experiential tourism companies, where he was responsible for launching, developing and driving the Voyages brand to consumers, both domestically and internationally.
RedBalloon also welcomes a new Chair, another former Tourism Australia executive: Ken Boundy. Boundy is currently Chair of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, and is a professional independent director and businessman, with experience in small and big businesses and start-ups. He has been close to RedBalloon for some time, and is a great supporter of the company. Boundy brings to RedBalloon invaluable perspectives on consumer marketing from the wine, food and tourism industries, and is a strong advocate for getting the most from the rapidly evolving digital economy. Boundy commenced his role of Chair on February 1.
RedBalloon is jointly owned by Naomi Simson and Peter Simson, who both sit on the board as non-executive directors. Nick Baker takes up his new position on March 16. He replaces the current CEO, Kristie Buchanan, who is leaving to start a family.
I’m finding that I am very busy in my life as a non-executive director, as you may be aware I have been out and about with the launch of my book, Live What You Love, busy with Channel Ten’s Shark Tank and also nurturing the new businesses that I have become involved with including Cricket Cooler and Hegs.
I attended the Canberra Business Chicks breakfast on Friday and remembered you speaking about your support of women in business and, for instance, your stand on quoting notable women instead of men (as they have enough of a voice in the mainstream media). I was somewhat surprised that Red Balloon announced a male CEO when there are so many deserving women and was wondering if you could comment on that decision beyond Nick being the ‘best person for the job’?
Naomi Simson says
So glad you enjoyed the breakfast…. Nick Baker is the fourth CEO of RedBalloon since it was founded in 2001 – and his three predecessors have been women (one was me). His commitment to Australia and all he has achieved for tourism is absolutely unique. Remember I am all about balanced voice and that includes right person right role.