Go to the colourfully-designed BlueRock website, and on the homepage is a similarly colourful spinning wheel that would not look out of place on the TV game show, Wheel of Fortune . Give that a spin, and you’ll end up on one of several words, such as ‘Grants’, ‘Accounting’, ‘Insurance’, ‘Digital’, ‘Intelligence’, just to name a few.
So confident is BlueRock with its service offering for businesses, it can do all of it to give clients the best shot at success.
The CEO Magazine had the opportunity to speak with the entrepreneurial advisory firm’s Managing Director Peter Lalor to find out if he really can do all of these services at the highest level, or if he’s really just biting off more than he can chew.
You’ve spent your career in Australia but went to high school in Canada. What was it like spending your formative years in another country to the one you live, and is it something you would recommend to other people?
I lived in Toronto, Canada for nearly five years and it was pretty unique. Being Australian in another country, you get a lot of attention from everyone. They’re interested in Australia, your accent, kangaroos in the street, that kind of thing. But as a teenager you don’t have a lot of self-awareness, so you absorb the experience in a different way to when you’re an adult. It’s formative but in a subtler way.
If there’s an opportunity to go to another country at any stage of your life you should always take it. You get another perspective on life, on how things are done or can be done. It’s a special chance to grow and be curious, and to make positive change.
How do you approach leadership that might be a bit out-of-the-box compared to other C-suite professionals?
I take a very personal approach to my leadership of BlueRock. We have about 200 staff and I make an effort to go around and see as many people as I can in any given week. I work hard at knowing my people and I suppose it’s what I do best. I also talk a lot about community and life happiness at BlueRock, as opposed to business principles. It’s not all about the work.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give to an aspiring professional based on your experience?
This advice refers to my experiences building teams. In my opinion, the best way to create strong leadership and opportunities within a team is by helping the team to love – both you as a leader and each other. If the team cares about one another, you can do amazing things together.
Which experiences have best influenced how you approach your current role as Managing Director of BlueRock?
I started my accounting career specialising in audits at Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and then BGL. After that I moved over to Grant Thornton where I worked my way up from accountant to manager. That was a time of great learning for me. Not only did I grow as a professional and a person, but I discovered a drive within me to do things differently. There was a disconnect between the corporate rigidity of the work culture and my own personality, so I started BlueRock.
After 10 years in professional practice, BlueRock was about shaking up the corporate framework I knew – to take the focus away from hierarchy and making money towards living good lives, having fun and allowing people to be who they want to be. I prefer a business that reflects people’s personalities and their desire to be part of a community. Our business focus should always be on living good lives.
You have a pretty diverse client base. What is your criteria for deciding which clients are worth taking on?
We work with entrepreneurial decision-makers. They’re people who have that desire to build something, to start something new and exciting. They need to be good people with good values that match our own. And obviously they are needing help or advice so that their business can grow, and they’re open to welcoming an adviser to their team.
You take a very holistic approach to your service offering. How do you make sure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew as a firm?
We want to bite off more than we can chew. We’re always chomping away at BlueRock because without growth there is no opportunity. I want to be remembered for being relentless in my pursuits and for trying new things that haven’t been considered before. Failing spectacularly is how I define success.
I want to be remembered for being relentless in my pursuits and for trying new things that haven’t been considered before. Failing spectacularly is how I define success.
What are some other major challenges BlueRock faces on a day-to-day basis?
Keeping people engaged is our biggest challenge because we place strong value on our community. We don’t ever want our people to feel like they’re a cog in a wheel. I’m always working on ways to remind our people that everyone has the opportunity to do great things. I worry that people aren’t truly happy working at BlueRock, and I make it my mission to encourage each and every person at BlueRock to live to their fullest potential.
What new opportunities are you looking to explore for BlueRock over the medium term?
I’m particularly excited about the emerging world of artificial intelligence and machine learning. So, for me it’s about how we can leverage that technology more effectively to reveal insights for our community that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
We’ve just launched a Data Intelligence division at BlueRock, which gives businesses the ability to really explore their data, ask questions of it and derive value that helps them achieve their goals. Data intelligence has a unique capability to drive revenue uplift, improve customer experience and retention, reduce operational costs and mitigate key risks.