#Wegiveascot about learning from industry leaders and forward thinkers. For the third instalment of our “TwoScots Takes Two” blog series, we’re taking two minutes with the ever-inspiring and energetic Andries Meyer, Chief Executive Officer at The Buchan Group.
Buchan is a global architectural organisation specialising in retail, hotel, commercial office and mixed-use developments, with clients plotted across Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom. Fellow Melbournians, you may recognise some of their recent work in Chadstone Shopping Centre’s expansive redesign last year.
Andries was Chief Financial Officer at Buchan from 2012 to 2016, before stepping up to the role of CEO in December 2016. He attributes his success to “enabling [his] staff to be the best version of themselves” and continuously “building momentum for change”, paying homage to the Buchan and TwoScots philosophies.
Responding to volatile trends and transient challenges facing his industry sector, he advocates for in situ, practical training solutions. As University education grows more theoretical, Andries promotes Buchan’s graduate program in which staff are rotated through project-based work. In terms of technological advancements, he notes “digital transformation has seen a shift in the industry from traditional design.” A greater use of technology has resulted in particularly alarming, “unintended consequences” for the design industry like the endangerment of freehand sketching. To promote the preservation of these skills, his team has hosted brilliant sketching sessions and a string of social club activities.
Along with advocating for his staff’s skill set development, Andries himself is impassioned by “learning as much as you can, as quickly as you can.” Prioritising the art of networking, he “maintains regular contact with Melbourne Business School and attends their events,” while also turning to literature for new ideas and inspiration. Reminding us of the importance of continuous development both personally and professionally, he mentions that he “never stops learning.” In fact, Francesca Gino’s ‘Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life’ is currently warming his bedside.
When I brought up the long-debated concept of work-life imbalance, Andries made an astute point: “it should be called work-life integration, rather than balance.”
“With the way the world is changing, it’s about integrating our responsibilities and focusing on the high priority and high value items first. I get up at 5am, exercise, get to the office between 8 and 9am, work a full day, leave on time, have a sit-down dinner then do what is needed. On weekends, I volunteer and generally keep active and healthy,” he says.
In pursuit of inspiration, Andries perfectly demonstrates how work and life can intertwine. He attributes his wife, Marinda, as his greatest catalyst for motivation, specifically after “having seen how hard she [works] to overcome unconscious bias in the workplace.” Andries speaks ardently of Marinda and expresses a genuine desire to share her “ability to influence people.”
As a CEO, Andries’ role is already inherently synonymous with influence, but he maintains that “leading a team is always challenging.” Like all great leaders, he admits to having “made a few mistakes” during the transition phase into his current role.
“I reflect on interactions regularly and try not to make the same mistake again. Having said that, I
enjoy the diversity of the teams I lead and seeing them succeed. I look forward to the challenge of leading the team and how they respond to my style,” he says.
Recounting a recent team success story, Andries proves how those initial ‘mistakes’ can lead to harnessing new perspectives and achieving breakthrough results. His team’s submission for an exciting project opportunity pitch that “wasn’t going that well”, made it “clear that [they] were under-resourced”. After calling on new team members, he was able to curate a group of people with experience in that sector and service line, resulting in a refined final submission that he felt “very proud of.”
Pressed for a parting piece of career advice for newly-qualified Accountants, Andries suggests striving to “be noticed, be eager to pick things up [and] be thankful for the opportunity.”
That marks the end of another insightful TwoScots Takes Two interview. If you’re holding out for another dose of inspiration from an ‘Industry Great’, stay tuned!