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Meet The Team - Graham Willis

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Graham Willis

How would you describe your job to someone who knew nothing about the Executive search industry?

I talk to and attract high-quality candidates to Board and CEO roles that not only fit with what the client is looking for, but who I can see adding something different to that organisation. It is not just a matter of the experience which that Executive or Board member has, but crucially it is also their ability to fit into the client’s organisation or board.

What inspired you to work in the industry?

Simply I was approached to consider it! I had never thought of being in executive search until then. As I found out more about the profession, I thought I had experience that would work well and would allow me concentrate on the people component of businesses. We have the opportunity to meet some fascinating individuals who in turn have the opportunity to impact on the lives of many people… it sounds a touch dramatic, but it is true.

Who is the most influential person you’ve ever met? (And why).

Of late that’s probably Dr Tim Soutphommasane… our Racial Discrimination Commissioner. He is on a mission to make a difference but in a very considered way. Tim seems to be able to take on an issue without being confrontational towards the individual. His power of conviction coupled with a personal humility is very engaging and effective. Prior to meeting Tim, it is probably Dame Marie Bashir for her understated style, her humanity and her devotion to duty. Her early career as a woman doctor who moved into Psychiatry was pushing frontiers at the time, even more so given she was of Lebanese descent. Her husband Sir Nicholas Shehadie is no slouch either… amazing couple.

What’s the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?

My alarm clock… although it rarely goes!

What’s your biggest career achievement to date?

I suspect when I was working with the Commonwealth Bank and led a project that created their Operations Centres across Australia, I then went on to manage those centres. The project involved 90% of the branches and impacted thousands of people. Apart from being a complex, large-scale project, the real achievement was in the culture the operations teams were able to create. The people in the centres were very empowered to make changes, make a decision and stand behind it and where the starting point was that the customer was right… always.

What’s the best thing about working at Watermark?

The people. The people in our business and the people we meet through our business. This business allows us to be curious and interested in each person’s story. It’s a privileged position.

If you never had to work again, how would you spend your time?

Travelling the underwater hot spots of the world, indulging my passion for diving and underwater photography and using that to highlight the impact that we can have (good and bad) on the oceans.

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by Watermark