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Episode 8, Anthony Boyd, CEO, Frasers Property Australia

  • Posted 23 Mar 2021
  • Richard Holmes
  • Podcast

Anthony Boyd is CEO at Frasers Property Australia, a leading diversified property company active in development and asset management across all major Australian markets.

With over 25 years’ experience in the property and finance industries and a strong business acumen, Anthony oversees the development of mixed-use, commercial and retail together with residential land, housing and apartments.

Anthony is also responsible for Frasers Property's investment property portfolio management as well as the sustainability focused energy retailer, Real Utilities.

As a leading Australian property professional, Anthony represents Frasers Property on the Property Council of Australia’s Corporate Leaders Group and Property Male Champions of Change.

Transcript Please note that this has been transcribed by AI/Bots so there may be typos and the occasional strange things happening. Richard Holmes 0:02 Welcome to the numbers people podcast in partnership with HPR consulting a leading Sydney executive finance recruitment firm. I'm your host Richard Holmes. In episode eight we welcome Anthony Boyd. Anthony is CEO of Frasers Property Australia, a leading diversified property company, active in development and asset management across all major Australian markets. CA qualified with over 25 years of experience after he commenced his career in the Big Four before making the commercial move, and relocating overseas. He returned back to Australia and has progressed through the ranks in both financial and operational roles as a leading Australian Property professional until he represents phrases property on the Property Council of Australia's corporate leader’s group and property male Champions of Change. Anthony, How are you? Anthony Boyd 1:00 I'm good. Thanks, Rich. How are you guys? It's been a busy year, I'm sure. Richard Holmes 1:03 Yeah, no, I'm great. Thanks. I can't complain at all in yourself. Anthony Boyd 1:07 Yeah, now we're going really well al things considered. It could have been, it could have been a lot worse. The ease I think, you know, all things being equal. Australia's done a pretty good job managing the pandemic and we're in a pretty good spot business-wise. So yeah, I'm looking forward to Christmas. It's been been a good finish to the year. Richard Holmes 1:27 No, no, I completely, completely agree. And I think I think 2021 is going to be a good year for Australia. I'm looking forward to it. And so I've known Anthony for a number of years. And I'm really glad he's been a guest on the podcast because he just shows you what you can achieve through a finance career. He is now the CEO of phrases property Australia and has done extremely well to get way out where he has. And I think he's got a lot of insights and advice. For the listeners out there. Anthony, would you like to tell us about your story? Anthony Boyd 1:58 Yeah, now I am. I think we've, we sort of spiked a little while ago, which as you said, we've known each other for a while. But you know, I started dumb, straight out of school. I started as an undergraduate at Price Waterhouse at the time, and that became PricewaterhouseCoopers, not long after and did my finance degree while I was working full time. And you know, that was great, because it kind of gave me a will the experience, you know, practically alongside what I was learning technically at uni. And then it also gave me the ability to start my PY or my chartered accounting qualification straight after uni and then became a manager Not long after so yeah, it was awesome. Because I obviously got a chance to work across a few different areas of the business idea a bit of order, I did a bit of control review staff, I did some business advisory work and across multiple industries and clients. But I was also able to learn a lot around leadership and managing teams and those things at quite an early age. So that was great. Then after about eight or nine years at PwC, I moved overseas and worked in Asia worked in Hong Kong, predominantly for most of that time for the Swire group, and more specifically for Cathay Pacific. So I worked across project finance, and you know, leasing and purchasing of aircraft, which was awesome, got to see a lot of the world and travel around a lot of different locations, that cat I flew to, which was unreal, and then at the end of about four years, I have a very moved back to Australia started at Prices, Australia and back then but phrases property at around 2005 and of work there ever seen. So, you know, I've been again very lucky to work across multiple roles, different teams in the business, by finance roles and operational roles. And yeah, I think whilst I knew quite early that I didn't, you know, want to just be focused on finance, it was obviously a great, great starting point for me, and a great learning environment for me and across a number of roles. They're not just obviously subsequently taken a number of opportunities to do you know, business roles or operational roles. Richard Holmes 4:10 That's excellent and reflects on your career. Anthony, you've been a CFO, you receive a phrase property early on the shoe when COVID kicked in. Being a CFO through an economic downturn. Has anything in your career prepared you to deal with that? Anthony Boyd 4:26 One of the things that I have spoken about a bit this year actually was that during that time in Hong Kong 2003 was the SARS epidemic. So for me, it's a great reflection on what's happened this year in that it's not just about an economic cycle, it's more around a health issue. You know, a global pandemic this year was probably more focused on Asia when it was the SARS pandemic but it's the same kind of principle: How are consumers behaving, what's happening with broader markets, what's happening with people being you know, leaving home and Doing things normally. So yeah, we did, we had a lot of real-life experience about that, you know, nearly 17 years ago and, and a couple of things that came out of that which we actually sat down and spoke about, after SARS had come and gone. But it's reflected a number of times this year and what I've been thinking about, and then we'll probably have two areas of focus that we had at the time, people and cash flow. And if you think about it, from each of those perspectives, the cash flow bit was all around, I having options, I say, having liquidity and focusing on cash flow, and liquidity gives you options in a business context. But then, more importantly, focusing on people is so critical, because you know, culture is always going to be the most important ingredient to get you through any crisis. And so that's been very evident this year as well. Richard Holmes 5:54 What’s interesting is what your point about people first during that looking after your people, and kind of the rest falls into place. So when you reflect on your career Anthony what advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career like yours, Anthony Boyd 6:10 it's sort of, um, it's not a unique career, there've been plenty of people that have got a good really, you know, strong finance background working in those kinds of environments that I've worked in, and I've gone into really, you know, good operational roles as well. But for me, personally, it's been all about taking opportunities to learn whenever you can. So if you presented an opportunity to do something different, work with a different team, get a different perspective in the business, then then I would recommend doing it. Being Okay, about, I guess, getting out of your comfort zone feeling, you know, just, you know, in some contexts, feeling comfortable being uncomfortable. You know, one, one thing that I've learned one bit of advice I would give people is, I think when you're young, and you're looking at executive teams, or you're looking at partners in a firm, or you're looking at senior managers, you assume they know everything, you're assuming they've got everything under control because they calm or they're, they've got an answer for different crises and whatever else, but in reality, everyone's still learning. And everyone to some degree is out of their comfort zone. So as soon as you understand that, then you should feel completely comfortable doing that. Some other advice would be, you know, always focusing on things, looking at them through a business lens, not necessarily just through a finance lens. And that's just about listening to as many different people as you can across the business, seeing how they view the business, talk to people at all levels of a business, as much as you can, in different teams, get out to sides, get out to projects, do as much as you can to kind of learn those, those contexts of the business. And then the last thing would probably be just making sure that the organization you're working for, has a shared set of, or at least aligned beliefs and values and morals that you have yourself. Because it just actually means it's really important, not just enjoying the industry you're in. But it really being part of that culture and being able to really give yourself into that culture is really important as well. Richard Holmes 8:19 No, that's, that's, that's great advice on funny. And, yeah, it's your point about looking through the business lens is really important to finance people. Like we've touched on earlier, where we're finance people tend to be focused on on the balance sheet and the numbers, but looking through that lens kind of gives you a bit of a better, better view of things. So, knowing what you know, now, what advice would you give to yourself? Anthony Boyd 8:45 I wouldn't probably do much different. Yeah. So it's not like that, you know, I think a lot of people, if you ask that question, I might say, are you now at that point in time, I would, I would have taken that opportunity. Or if I had my time again, I'd maybe do something different. I don't really regret anything I've done. And don't get me wrong, I completely understand. I've been both lucky and privileged a number of times in my career, so I don't take that for granted. But I think you know, in terms of advice, I'd give people you know, things I probably did do a bit of that I shouldn't have, which was just worry about things that you can't control or advise people just don't do that. You know, just focus on those things you can control, focus on yourself. And then just do as good a job as you can in whatever role you're doing. Don't worry about you know, being too strategic or political or thinking about things in too much depth. Just do what you're doing well look for those opportunities to learn like I was talking about before where that's new skills or, or new perspectives and then just be willing to work with a range of people and really understand the business that you're in and that should give you lots of opportunities. Richard Holmes 9:56 Definitely. And, and reflecting again. On the career, did you have a career plan? Did you just set out to move from one role to the other? How did it work out Anthony Boyd 10:07 for you? Now, there's been a lot of times where I've sort of been advised, you know, by different people at different levels too, you know, sometimes you do a course and people say, you have to have this career plan and write it down and itemize it by year and all your objectives, etc. And I know that works for some people. So I'm not saying that's not a good idea if it does work, but my own experience has been, I've actually never had a career plan, per se, I have always just focused on the role I'm doing, I'm doing the best I can in that role. And, you know, don't get me wrong, I have had a rough idea of the things I wanted to do. And I guess where I wanted to be in certain organizations, but that's based on more around the things I really enjoy doing. So the idea of not necessarily always wanting to just be in finance, for instance, was actually more about the fact that I just love doing things like you know, making strategic decisions, and building partnerships, leading teams, all those sorts of things. So, you know, I never put pressure on myself to be in a certain role or, or, you know, earn a certain amount of money or be at a certain point in my career, by a certain age, I took the view, you need to just, you know, be enjoying what you're doing, having fun and, and, and aligning with the business that you're in. And, you know, I've always hoped that those opportunities would come. And that's been my experience that they have. Richard Holmes 11:32 Excellent. And I can imagine anything, you've worked with some brilliant people over the years, who has influenced you the most? Yeah, I Anthony Boyd 11:39 like this question. Because I think when you talk about it more broadly, I think, this year, have always has really opened up people's, I guess, minds around who people really are. So suddenly, you're in people's lounge rooms, and living rooms and, and bedrooms, and that sort of stuff, because you're on zoom and teams and all that sort of stuff. And I think that allows you to look back and think well, who does influence you in your life, it's not just about bosses, I have had great bosses, by the way, who have who I look back on, I think they have influenced me in it, you know, in a huge way, because they've given me opportunities. And, and almost without saying it, they've given me confidence, because they've just said, I, you know, I want you to do this, which is meant today sort of believed in me and said, you know, he's an opportunity for you. I've also had some really good football coaches in particular, over time, I've got this really strong belief that you know, sport, and business has a lot of parallels and a lot of lessons. And so I've had some really good coaches that have given me opportunities, I guess, in a sporting context, but also they have this different way of looking at the world, but they've got insight or wisdom that, that comes to things like teamwork, and communication and trust, setting goals, all of those sorts of things that are actually really relevant in your working life. But also, I guess, from a personal point of view, I've had, you know, a lot of people that are close to me, influenced me. So my parents have had a big influence on me, for instance, not because they're their big business people or, or executives in large companies, but just more that they've got this really great perspective. And then what's important in life, the same with my wife, and my daughters about the manager got a good sense of balance and perspective. And then, you know, I even look at my mates and my brothers that have had influences on me as well. Because not because they probably are because they're not actually impressed by, you know, what you do, or your job title or anything like that. They just, they just look at how you trade people and how you behave. So you know that that's been a big influence as well. Richard Holmes 13:50 That's, that's great. And you just touched on. And then it's the people that are closest to you, but ultimately influence you the most, which is interesting. Anthony Boyd 14:00 And I was actually talking I was on a webinar this morning, we were talking about the All Blacks and as you said with sport and business, he does run hand in hand. I mean, I think they're just a great example of how it works, strong work ethic and in that team unity they've gotten that team is just incredible, isn't it? I agree and that's, that's a perfect example of how culture sits above everything. And, you know, their ability to understand their place in a team and obviously have their own individual ambitions in their own individual jobs. But how that contributes to that wider organization and the team's goals and the team's ambitions is so they mean, they're so clear about it, and they just understand it so well and and and the culture of that organization has thrived as a result. It's a benchmark, there's Richard Holmes 14:47 no doubt that's that it's only the Wallabies. It's so now you're in the CEO role. How do you continue to learn in order to stay on top of things? Anthony Boyd 15:00 Yeah, learning is such a key, it's actually a really good way to phrase that, that that question because a lot of what we focus on more broadly is, is, you know, formal training and development, a lot of organizations say, let's think about training and development. But I think that often becomes too structured, or people kind of think they have to tick different boxes, as opposed to this sort of organic learning all the time learning. And so for me, it is much less about, you know, sitting in a formal webinar necessarily, or doing a three or four-day course, I have done, you know, executive training courses, which have been awesome. But I think, more importantly, is that organic thing of just listening to people getting a range of perspective on any issues that you're trying to solve, reading a lot about, you know, whether it's industry, media, economic, kind of insights or forecasts. But actually, probably, more importantly, than just being absorbed in the industry stuff all the time, which is obviously important. It's actually looking at trends, and the environment outside of the industry and what you can learn from that. So as much as I can, I try to talk to people outside the industry as well. And, you know, listen to what they're dealing with, or listen to the opportunities they're kind of being exposed to, and seeing how that might, you know, be able to influence what we're doing. Richard Holmes 16:27 That is true. I mean, having that interest in, in, in your company, and what you do certainly helps, isn't it? Yep. Absolutely. And, you know, a good point about looking more broadly outside the industry, and certainly helps to say it's a constant thing, isn't it? Sure. I'm sure you've, you've seen finance evolve a lot over your career, what does the future of finance look like to self? Yeah, I Anthony Boyd 16:53 know, this is something you an Irish, we've spoken about, actually, you know, before I spoke about it ever, ever a number of years, to be honest, and I think some of the things we've spoken about, would really resonate with how I see the evolution of Finance. And I think you have to pull two things apart, you have to, you have to think about finance, from a systems point of view, like a tech point of view, which I think is evolving very quickly. And I think the idea of finance professionals, you know, being all about the machine, you know, the actual systems themselves and, and putting things into and getting things out of a machine. And then, and then sort of putting that data on a page and giving it to someone else, I think those days are sort of gone. So, so more and more, you know, artificial intelligence, robotics, all of these sorts of things will be able to perform accounting type functions. But what's missing from that is the insights that come out of finance and really good finance professional. So the second part of it is, what's the evolution of finance people. And this is the stuff you and I have spoken about, which is, you know when you think about the skills, and just the inherent understanding of finance people, you do take it for granted, sometimes that not everyone in the business understands, you know, things like cash flow and capital management, and, you know, risk management and all of those opportunities. So, as I finance people, the evolution of that will be around, how do you get on the front line of strategy, use those broader finance skills to drive insights, that you're then working with people who they who make those decisions? And they could be everything from manufacturing, design, marketing, all of these things? What are those cost drivers in a business? What's that? What's driving value? So I think it's about, you know, understanding that, you know, in addition to those other things around what you're doing, the community and your brand, and your customers and all of those things that define business success, it does all come back to financial returns as well. So So understanding what that looks like for a business, as I said, before, really understanding a business, then understanding what drives the success or the failures in those different areas of the business, relative to the various risks being taken, is a different angle that finance can provide. And it also provides a huge amount of objectivity. That's different to how someone might see something if they're just working in marketing, or they're just working in a building context or, or manufacturing or selling or whatever it might be. So that that I think is the future of finance is, is leveraging those skills and becoming more and more part of that front line of the business. Richard Holmes 19:43 Yeah, yeah, I agree with all your points. I think it's that that is the future of finance, isn't it? Understanding the business and kind of reverse engineering it back from there, for sure. It's interesting. And so I've been in the Australian market since 2006, and knowing what I know about phrases and pray to the Austral, and you you, you guys do have the benchmark in terms of good culture, it's always been a really good place to work in the tenure of your staff is just phenomenal. What does culture mean to you? Anthony Boyd 20:15 Not my it's not, it's nice of you to say because it's always great to get an external perspective on how people see your business. And often what they refer to, even though they might not define it like that it is actually culture and what their understanding of that culture is and how it reflects on people working there. So it's nice of you to say that, but look, there's no doubt in my perspective and the perspective of the business cultures, their most important ingredient in business success, Trump's strategy every day, and it's something that we've focused a lot on. So in that context is not just about the finance team that we've focused on, it's actually broader than that. But finance is a great example of how it can evolve in a lot of ways because you can, you can really look at the opportunities to develop people, and everyone who's in an organization wants to learn and want to feel engaged. And they and they want to feel like there’s opportunities ahead of them. So how you do that, in a broader context, in a broader cultural context is really important to plan it. And then to execute it. We've been lucky that, that we've got a few different finance teams across the business, maybe they're in different asset classes, in terms of the business teams themselves. There's some different parts of our corporate finance team. And we've been as proactive as we can be. And this doesn't work perfectly for everybody. But we've been proactive where we have where we can be to move people around, give them opportunities to learn new areas of the business. People have moved countries, people have moved states, and move teams just to kind of get a broader perspective and be challenged and learn more. So you know, I wouldn't say we've got it perfect. But you know, I think it is reflected in the fact that people have been here for a long period of time, not necessarily doing the same job, but being really interested in how the business has evolved. And how culture has evolved as a key part of that. Richard Holmes 22:15 That's, that's great. And I think a couple of points you made there, where culture is the most important ingredient, it always fascinates me where companies don't see that then kind of treating people, people poorly, right. So nobody will know about you until you're a passionate guy. You love your industry. What's when you reflect back? What's the favourite thing about your career? Anthony Boyd 22:35 I've had, as I said before, I do feel both privileged and lucky. And with my career, I know a lot of people say it's not bad luck. And yeah, I look to it, to be honest, it's probably not, it's about maybe being able to take advantage of opportunities when they're presented to you. But I have had the ability to see a lot of different businesses and work with a lot of really good people. So I think when you just kind of try to map your career out and think about what's been the best part of it, it's, it's, it is the cultures, it's what we were just talking about, it's being able to work in great cultures, work with people that care about what they do care about how they do it. You know, I feel very lucky that I've seen so much of the world in different parts of my career. And, and had a huge amount of fun. So So whilst it's hard to kind of pin down one theme, that is what is the favourite part of my career, it's probably that I've always been able to have fun. I think that's really important. I think often, you can take yourself too seriously. And I think even, you know, businesses and teams can take themselves too seriously. And don't get me wrong is what we do is high stakes. And it is really important. And it's very serious. But that doesn't mean you can, you know, have fun and work, you know, you know, really proactive way with really good people. And enjoy your time is achieving great things. Richard Holmes 24:01 That's just great advice. And Funny, isn't it? I think people lose track of that, especially in finance, where it can be fun. You can go to work and have a laugh. Yeah. So again, reflecting back, have there been any recommendations that you wish had not followed? AB Anthony Boyd 24:18 I remember one time when I was I think it might have been just starting the P y at the time you had a chartered accounting qualification. And I was playing footy. You know, and there was a bunch of us in a room one day and some of the more senior people in the organization, some of the managers, they all kind of came in and some of the messaging was around. Forget about social life. Forget about sport. All you'll be doing over the next few years is study and work. And that was sort of the message that I deleted and I kind of took me aback a little bit because I was thinking, Oh, that just feels so different to what I actually want to be able to do. Luckily, I didn't really follow that, that advice or recommendation, but it was sort of there at the time. And I think what that's what it's proven and look, to be honest society, and a lot of corporate cultures have changed a lot. For the better since then, as well. But I think what has just proven is that you know, balance is crucial for people to be at their best they need balance, you need to find, like, my advice to people would be, you need to find things that you do really enjoy doing. And sometimes that is work, by the way. But also, just as importantly, it's things outside of work, it could be, you know, music, painting, travel, exercise, whatever it is, find the time to do it. And, and when I look back that probably reflective of a bit of a different time and attitude. But, you know, I think increasingly that, you know, people have to be, to a certain degree a little bit selfish about what it is they really want to do. Because in time that actually makes them better people, and that they'll contribute more anyway, to an organization and cultures and businesses have to be aware of that, and provide, you know, a degree of flexibility, and a degree of, you know, cultural elements that allow people to be able to do that because I think that that actually works better for an organization in due course. Richard Holmes 26:14 Of course, yeah. And it's just logical, isn't it? Yeah. So with the convention in your role, Anthony, you've got a lot going on, when you're fairly composed guy. But when you do feel overwhelmed, what what do you do? Anthony Boyd 26:28 Normally, it'd be going for a run. Exercise has always been part of my life. But it's always also been a way to clear my head. It didn't start out as a deliberate strategy like that. But it's just been too many times where I've done it, I mean, I do it just because it makes me feel really good. But there's been too many times I've done it. And I've had this clarity of thought, or I've just been able to kind of just get perspective back on what might otherwise feel overwhelming. And, you know, sometimes something might feel too big to handle or whatever. And that just allows you to just will potentially for 40 minutes or an hour or whatever, just don't think about that just got out recharge a little bit. And I think sometimes you come back in and have a shower and go, Okay, that's not so big now, you know, so it's, it's a little tricky. But Sam, it's always worked for me. No, it's Richard Holmes 27:17 Exercise is a prominent theme through these podcasts. Yeah. To kind of recharge your batteries in it just kind of resets. Interesting to point there where it's, most of the time, it's never as bad as what it seems Absolutely. Like, it's good. So I'm kind of closed out as well. I'm free. I mean, this podcast isn't about recruitment. But knowing phrases, you've recruited some amazing talent over the year, when when you personally recruit what, what is the most important thing you look for? Anthony Boyd 27:45 I, I always reflect this. When it's sort of it's not even just in recruitment, it's probably around promotions, it's probably around building teams, all that sort of stuff. But it is actually really important for recruiting as well when it's the single most important thing, I almost leave by the saying that there are two things you've got control of your attitude and your effort. And I know it's sort of feels a bit odd to someone saying, Well, how do you know that if you're sitting with someone for an hour, if you're recruiting them, but I think you can. And I think it's just about the way people might either talk about themselves or talk about their achievements or talk about their ambitions and all that sort of stuff. I think you can always teach technical skills or business-specific processes. But people generally have an innate attitude and a level of effort. And I think he can identify that. So that's, that's, that's one of the most important things I would look for all the time. Another very little thing, which is probably worth raising is just those subtle cues around how people interact with other people. I've seen a number of people walk into an organization and just probably see that maybe someone who's introduced them or met them at reception or done those sort of things might see someone has been junior to themselves and behave in a certain way. And I think that says a lot about people as well as just how, how an individual would interact with whoever is in front of them. Richard Holmes 29:14 No, it's Yeah, I completely agree with all those points. And it's it Yeah, I mean, how you treat the receptionist? is really important, isn't it when you go for an interview? Anthony Boyd 29:22 Absolutely. Richard Holmes 29:22 Sure it shows a lot about your character. And obviously, family sports are important to you what what makes you happy? AB Anthony Boyd 29:30 Yeah, okay, as you said before, rich we're not retired long term. I'm pretty happy person Anyway, I'll go down. You know, I don't get too down a lot of the time and I feel lucky that that's the case. So a lot of things made me happy like you said, family, exercise, but I think when it comes to work, a lot of things make me happy and that's it can be as simple as, you know, an individual, like a person who I know overcoming a challenge or working with a team or seeing a team work really well to achieve And then that does make me really happy because it's just it's, it can be quite a simple thing, but it just is actually a real key essence of, of what's great salad look like I do believe that, that people can find, you know, a job, or business and industry, you know, a team that actually can really make them happy. And I've been very lucky to have found that a number of times in mockery. Richard Holmes 30:22 No, that's great. And as you touched on before Anthony, it's, it's about finding that balance, isn't it not just work at home as well. Anthony Boyd 30:29 Yeah, that's it. And that's the thing is people, if people have that balance, then generally they're going to find the things that are gonna drag on them in elite in any element of their life, he's going to be offset by the other things that I know are gonna, you know, be able to make them happy. And you know, people should always be looking at those opportunities to do that. Richard Holmes 30:47 That sounds great. Well, Anthony, a really appreciate your time, I think you've been a great guest and offered some really good advice and insights there. And hopefully, we'll have you on the podcast again Anthony Boyd 30:57 soon. So I could talk about the sort of things which is sort of feels sometimes like the career is gone very fast in a lot of ways and very slow in others. And it's always nice to be able to sort of reminiscing and you do a great job at sort of helping people think about the broader elements of, you know, jobs and careers and life and that's, that's a credit to you, and I'd say good luck for the rest of the podcast. It's been really fun. Season Three, Richard Holmes 31:25 Really appreciate it. Thanks,Rich.
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