Hockey starts DC business in the middle of a roaring pandemic.
Australian Financial Review | April 2, 2020
Starting a business in Washington is not for the faint-hearted. Doing so in the middle of a roaring pandemic is probably crazy.
But former treasurer and ambassador to the US Joe Hockey – who hung out the shingle on his Pennsylvania Avenue advisory firm Bondi Partners earlier this year – insists he’s in good shape.
One client – a hedge fund – has paid its fee a year in advance, giving a timely kickstart to Mr Hockey’s first foray into the private sector after more than two decades in public life.
The upfront payment is pretty fortunate given the rest of the global consulting industry is grappling with the same overnight freeze that has afflicted the rest of the economy. Washington is among the hardest hit.
Sources talk of staff triage and long hours serving clients as they grapple with the same fallout. And there’s also the attendant problems of being home-bound and tied to screen meetings.
“What we’ve found is one door closes but another opens,” Mr Hockey told The Australian Financial Review from his home near his former embassy residence in Woodley Park, where he’s working in accordance with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser’s current shelter-at-home guidelines.
“And there’s tremendous Australian innovation opportunities to come into the US at this point,” he says referring to the coronavirus outbreak, which has exposed shortfalls in America’s supplies of crucial medical equipment such as face masks, respirators and testing kits.
“We’ve had a number of healthcare and emergency response companies come to us, seeing an opportunity to help out.”
Mr Hockey said his firm is working with a series of senior former administration officials, from both sides of politics, as well as former Pentagon people.
While he’s loath to name names, Mr Hockey is known to be close to outgoing White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who spoke at the ambassador’s farewell party in January.
Photo: Evelyn Hockstein