active CEO Podcast #15 Michael Sewards All Aboard the SkyBus

Michael Sewards – CEO SkyBus

On this episode of the active CEO Podcast, we discuss how Michael’s team are elevating the experience of the SkyBus Passengers, coping with passengers varying stress levels, expanding both nationally and internationally, and solving the congestion problems at airports. We delve into Michael’s leadership style, parking the ego in a co-CEO environment, the growing pains when expanding quickly from 140 to 600 team members, and leading through transparency, energy and purpose, in a practical manner.


Michael Sewards is a CEO that is always on the move, ensuring that customers are placed first and the passenger experience is of the highest quality. His leadership style is a charismatic, but humble, approach that suits being at the heart of a world-class transport service that caters for over 4 million passengers per year. He became Co-CEO of SkyBus in 2014, the company services airport passengers across Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne, Gold Coast, Auckland and Hobart, at no cost to the tax payers.

His efficient nature shines through in his ability to manage multiple site locations, volunteering at various sport organisations, supporting charities, spending time with his family and finding time to ride his bike. Michael is known for his generosity and caring nature, he spends a lot of time with his wife supporting and making a difference with those less fortunate such as starving children and women dealing with Breast Cancer.

Michael talks about:

  • Growing up and dreaming of being a Professional soccer player, and the harsh realities of trialling for Queens Park Rangers and realising that you don’t have enough talent to succeed.
  • The importance of preparation and understanding the environment you are about to enter.
  • How having part-time roles during High School and University allowed him to develop the fundamental skills required to be successful in business.
  • The first 100 days as the new CEO of SkyBus and being handed the keys.
  • Underestimating the strength of the culture in a family business that had been developed over 36 years.
  • Having a co-CEO and the relationship that has been developed for over 20 years.
  • SkyBus being proud to showcase and love the passenger’s destination, and making sure that their first impression is truly amazing.
  • Coping with passengers differing levels of stress, feelings, experience and approach to travelling.
  • Why it is important for the CEO to be clipping tickets at the curb or driving the bus.
  • Understanding the pinch points and degrees of stress in the business because of an event or certain time of the year, and deploying the management team to the curb.
  • The expansion strategy of SkyBus and the most important components for making it successful.
  • Understanding what the market knew and felt about SkyBus. Is there sense of brand equity and passenger ownership of the brand?
  • The greatest limitation to growth at airports is congestion in the forecourt terminal.
  • Partnerships are becoming very important in the growth and development of both business and most importantly the community.
  • SkyBus powered by Vodafone.
  • Wrapping the bus in promoting White Ribbon and Breast Cancer Network, and getting the bus drivers to sign the bus and commit to stopping any violence towards women.
  • The importance of turning off from work, having interests outside of work, riding a bike before work and reading a book per week.
  • Doing something new, every day, for the last four years.

Active CEO Wellness Tip

Ben and Craig talk about giving it a rest. It is amazing how many people disregard the most important technique for stress management, productivity, mental health, physical health and performance, GET A GOODS NIGHT SLEEP! People who get less than 6hrs sleep double the likelihood of weight gain and diabetes because of raised cortisol levels and the affects it has on insulin metabolism and blood-sugar control. Getting 8 or more hours sleep a night has a positive affect on your biochemical balance, predisposition to chronic diseases, performance, mood, energy levels, helping you to lose weight, controlling your stress response and vigour. Prioritise the time you go to bed.


“The most important thing our team members need to know, is that somebody is there to help.” Gaining an insight into Michael Sewards, CEO of SkyBus, on the active CEO Podcast.

“It is challenging to apply the learning’s from Australia and to pivot and mold in New Zealand. It is just such an incredibly dynamic market because everything that happens in New Zealand is really done for the rest of the world.” Michael Sewards on expanding SkyBus into New Zealand, on the active CEO Podcast.


Resources Mentioned in this show:

Michael Sewards LinkedIn


Craig Johns LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole LinkedIn

Ben Gathercole Performance Coaching

Recommended Reading:

Better Than Winning – Ben’s best selling book link

Previous active CEO Podcast Episodes:

#14 – Jamin Heppell & Jen Ziegner (Mountains & Marathons) – Leading From the Mountain Tops Link
– Chris Dean (Choice Energy) – Disrupting the Energy Spectrum link
#12 – Kate Palmer (Sport Australia) – Changing the Game link
#11 – Tim Cosulich (Fratelli Cosulich Group) – Navigating the Global Family Business link
– Dr Ndidi Nnoli-Edozien (Rising Tide Africa) – Magic Happens Outside the Comfort Zone link
#9 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #2 – Creating an Earthquake link
#8 – Mike DeNoma (KBZ Bank) Part #1 – Your Strengths are What Energise You link
#7 –
Trina Gordon (Boyden World Corporation) – Recruiting World Leaders link
#6 – Indiran Padayachee (RentCorp) – Winning Only Matters link
#5 – Suzie Hoitink (Clear Complexions) – Enemy of a Great Life is a Good One link
#4 – Rene Zondag (PBI) – People Are Our Greatest Asset link
#3 – Anne Gripper (NSW Office of Sport) – 6 C’s of Leadership link 
#2 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 2 link
#1 – active CEO Intro (NRG2Perform) Part 1 link

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