John Keeves followed his father and other family members to Prince Alfred College and was a boarder from Mount Gambier from 1977 to 1981. He excelled academically during his time at school and won a number of prizes, including for overall academic excellence. He was prominent in cricket and football, playing a number of games in the 1st XVIII. One of his classmates has described him as being “hard at the ball”. In his final year he was involved in the establishment of a radio station at PAC which broadcast through speakers onto the Back Oval. John was the student announcer, combining some music and current affairs with coverage of school news and issues.
After school John completed degrees in Law with Honours and Economics at the University of Adelaide. He then pursued legal practice with Finlayson's, whilst also tutoring at university. Since 1993 he has been a partner of Johnson, Winter and Slattery, working as a Corporate and Commercial Lawyer. He has worked across a range of industries specialising in large and complex merger and acquisition transactions as well as a range of corporate governance and practice matters.
In addition to his impressive professional record, he has served the legal profession in a number of ways and is acknowledged as a leader in several areas of the law. He is one of the more prominent lawyers in this state and co-presents a series of podcasts for the Business Law Section of the Law Council on topical issues in business law. He has served on a number of professional committees such as the Business and Human Rights Working Group and the Business Law Section Executive of the Law Council of Australia. In addition, he has won a number of awards within the legal profession for his outstanding work.
Given the number of boards on which he has served, many of which he has chaired, it is remarkable that he has also been able to devote a significant amount of time, effort and energy to Prince Alfred College. As well as being an Old Scholar, he is also a past parent, with sons James and Charles having attended the College. John served on the PAC Foundation Board from 2002 to 2009 and on the PAC Council from 2010 to 2020. This included six years as Chair from 2014 to 2019 inclusive.
John’s combination of a formidable intellect, and his lawyer’s training and experience, meant that he was always across the detail of whatever issue was being discussed. At the same time, a good Chair does not dominate meetings, but ensures that every participant is not only allowed, but also encouraged, to make their own contribution. John would then sum up issues in the best possible way leading to agreed outcomes by consensus, without having to resort to voting.
John's passion for Prince Alfred College, and his ambition for the school, were always evident. He never shied away from the bold decisions that would best serve the College in the long-term. It is no coincidence that during his tenure as Chair, three extremely important, strategic, property purchases were made by the College: the Royal Coach Hotel, the Casanova aggregation of properties and the Bureau of Meteorology site. Future generations should thank the Council of the College during this period, led by John Keeves, for its vision in ensuring that these purchases were made.
At the same time, John is a fine example for all of us in being focused on service rather than self. He remained as Council Chair throughout our Sesquicentenary celebrations, not because of any desire to be in the limelight through that period, but simply because he wanted to do his part to ensure that everything went as well as it possibly could. And our highly successful series of Sesquicentenary celebrations are further testament to John's leadership skills.
John is another outstanding example of the best Princes Man. He is the best possible blend of principles and pragmatism. He is genuinely humble and grounded, and never motivated by ego.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns us about people who do good things only for the attention they will receive in so doing. He cautioned us to look out for the people who pray on street corners to appear holy, or who let everyone know when they are giving to charity. Good deeds are their own reward and should be done solely because they are good, not to get others to think better of us. John Keeves is a living example of this, in dedicating his significant talents solely for the benefit of each worthwhile cause in which he is involved, and for the good of the people who will be most impacted.
Highly capable yet humble, understated but passionate about the things he believes in, Prince Alfred College is fortunate to have attracted the loyalty and dedication of this gentleman. John Keeves exemplifies the finest characteristics of the Princes Man and we are proud to acknowledge him.