David Gonski AC allows MANSAM Magazine’s listeners into his amazing life of achievement. His arrival in Australia, early years as a lawyer and his stellar career. Plus some unusual and surprising insights into David’s family history. A podcast to enjoy and inspire.


David Michael Gonski AC (b. 1953), businessman and philanthropist, was seven years old when his family immigrated to Australia from South Africa. He attended Sydney Grammar School and then the University of New South Wales, graduating with degrees in Commerce and Law (with the University Medal) in 1976. He then joined the law firm, Freehills, later becoming the youngest-ever partner in the firm while also teaching in the law faculty at UNSW. 

In 1986, Gonski established a corporate advisory firm, Wentworth Associates. In subsequent years, Gonski became involved in community work. He was appointed a Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1997; served as Chair of the Australia Council between 2002 and 2006; and between 2003 and 2010 was Chair of NIDA, the Trustees of Sydney Grammar School, and Film Australia. He has also served on the boards of bodies including the Bundanon Trust and St Vincent’s Hospital. Appointed a Director of the UNSW Foundation in 1999, he became its Chair in 2007 having, in 2005, become UNSW Chancellor. 

Currently, among other roles, he is Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company; Patron of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation; and non-executive Chairman of the Australian government’s Future Fund. In addition, he has held advisory and board positions for business organisations such as John Fairfax Holdings, Westfield, ANZ Bank, Coca-Cola Amatil, Morgan Stanley, Transfield Holdings and ING Australia. 

In April 2010, he was appointed chairman of the committee commissioned by the Federal government to complete its Review of Funding for Schooling. He was named a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of June 2007.


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