John O’Hara, Managing Director and CEO of Sunny Queen Eggs, talks: the food business, playing to your strengths, analysing your weaknesses, walking the talk, and not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Arete Executive Managing Partner Richard Triggs first met John O’Hara when he spoke at an Australian Institute of Management function in 2009 and since then has watched Sunny Queen grow tremendously under John’s leadership. John has been the Managing Director and CEO of Sunny Queen Eggs since 2002. A privately owned company, Sunny Queen generates its revenue from the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of egg and egg products throughout Australia. When John assumed his role, Sunny Queen was an unlisted company that predominantly sold eggs in Queensland and turned over barely $50 million. 15 years later, the company has a major retail presence across the country, including contracts with a number of major retailers, and has grown to a $270 million business with 130 employees. John is also a Non-Executive Director of SunPork and Swickers. As well as his professional responsibilities, John is the secretary of voluntary organisation, Friends and Partners of East Timor, a group which assists with the development of poor communities in the north of East Timor.
One of three sons, John was born in Mt Isa, Queensland. A self confessed “country boy” at heart, John was schooled in Brisbane after his family relocated when he was young. As a teen, he worked at Brisbane’s iconic Lang Park selling hot chips during football grand finals. He also had part-time positions selling newspapers at a local corner grocery store. John’s part-time jobs not only gave him “some pocket money but a taste for business,” and many years later he still “enjoys the rigour and challenges” of his work. He earned a Bachelor of Business in Communications and Public Relations from Queensland University of Technology but upon graduating, a mini recession in Australia made finding a job extremely difficult.
“I determined somewhere along the line that there are two growing industries that required expertise and skill and there’s a future there and that’s food and computers but I didn’t talk to computers very well, so I ultimately decided the food game is where I wanted to be,” John said.
“Every step along the way you learn something that’s different and that helps your skill set later in life.”
John lives in Brisbane with his family.
- John on LinkedIn
- Sunny Queen Eggs Australia
- Queensland University of Technology
- Australian Institute of Company Directors
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