Not everyone ends up in their career by taking a traditional path. Those who arrive at their job through unexpected paths, though, are likely to be all the more dedicated to the career. Such is the story of Graham Campbell, CEO of Gallagher Benefit Services. It’s certainly quite a leap, but Graham started out playing rugby professionally in Queensland, when he was introduced to a financial planner through his friend and coach.
“I was genuinely fascinated by his business and how he helped people,” Graham recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ And now 30 years later, I’m in this CEO role. This means I’ve had to transition out of my financial planning role and focus more on building our corporate solutions capabilities. For me, the appeal of delivering employee benefits solutions to Australian businesses speaks very much to my passion for making a difference, but on a larger scale.”
Prior to being part of global risk management and insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher & Co (Gallagher), Graham worked for a sole trader as a financial planner, with just over two dozen staff.
In January 2017, however, the company underwent a radical transformation, when it was acquired as a branch of Gallagher and brought the employee benefits division to Australia. Today, it’s grown to more than 100 staff, and the new capabilities offered by Gallagher, says Graham, meant the benefits team “could take things to the next level”.
“When we were introduced to the employee benefits division, I was blown away by the incredible things it was doing overseas,” says Graham. “Seeing the opportunity and potential to change the way Australian businesses think about their people was the most exciting part of our Gallagher journey. The team and I are now on a mission to pull together the ‘best of breed’ businesses in this space – businesses that are doing things differently, thinking outside the box and, most importantly, understanding the individualised nature that employee benefits and wellbeing are heading towards now.”
Graham considers it an achievement that his small but successful financial planning firm was able to draw the attention of Gallagher. The Australian employee benefits division offers consulting and education services to help adjust to evolving workplace dynamics and provide better physical, emotional, career and financial wellbeing to employees.
The company also provides financial advice to private clients, and advice around tailoring a lifestyle conducive to wealth accumulation. “Employees who are engaged and feel valued are more loyal and connected to their organisation,” Graham asserts.
“Employees who are engaged and feel valued are more loyal and connected to their organisation.”
“This isn’t an easy thing to achieve, particularly in this new generation of workers, but we believe we have the understanding and the methodology to help businesses achieve this. Looking at the intangible indicators such as culture, purpose, values, ethics and sustainability – these are now vital in the success and longevity of an organisation – the intangible driving the tangible.”
It would be hypocritical if the Gallagher benefits team, while helping to construct workplaces driven by purpose and ethics, didn’t reflect a similar environment internally.
But it’s not for nothing that Gallagher has been recognised as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for eight years running. It’s Graham’s belief that “the success of a business starts and ends with its people”, and that applies not only to Gallagher’s clients but to its own team of employees.
“Everyone in the team is made to feel like they can contribute, and every opinion counts, from senior management to admin,” Graham explains. “We invest in our people and we truly care about them. In return, they care for the business and feel comfortable and confident enough to keep pushing the boundaries and trying new and innovative solutions.
“I have an open-door policy, and I surround myself with a leadership team that supports me, has my back and I trust. I’m also always looking at personal and professional development and ways to improve as a leader – it’s what you do ‘when no-one is watching’ that makes a difference.”
With one eye to the future, Graham believes the drivers to success will be listening to clients and adjusting to their diverse needs. After all, it’s Graham’s ambition to make Gallagher’s employee benefits division not the biggest in its field, but the best – the company known across Australia for making workplaces better.
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