Founded in 1963 with just five firms in a network across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the US, and Canada, BDO has grown to become the fifth-largest full-service audit, tax, and advisory firm in the world. The business made its foray into the Australian market in 1975 and today employs 1,260 employees nationwide.
The CEO Magazine spoke to three of BDO Australia’s managing partners—Grant Saxon, Sydney; David Garvey, Melbourne; and Tony Schiffmann, Brisbane—to learn more about the culture, the benefits of having a global backing, and the company’s future plans.
The CEO Magazine: What is your personal approach to leadership?
Tony: When you’re working in a business and industry that’s always growing, it’s important to have an open and consultative management style. This is something I take pride in — providing an environment where everyone’s opinion is considered, to ultimately achieve a result that’s best for the business and the client in question. The most important part of leadership is leading by example and setting the tone from the top.
It’s up to people like David, Grant, and myself to create a culture that invokes discussion and hard work, resulting in a progressive workplace that attracts people who want to contribute to a collective goal.
Grant: I pride myself on being a collaborative leader. When you are in the leadership group of any professional services firm, you’re constantly working alongside intelligent and qualified people, so you cannot afford to be too authoritarian. Instead, I see my role as a leader to help people understand the vision and then encourage them down a path that creates value for the organisation as a whole. For this to be effective, the most important thing is to not lose focus and to maintain respect, regardless of the difficulties along the way.
David: Approachability is a key priority of my leadership, and it’s something I endeavour to uphold for both clients and employees. Feedback is an important and healthy component of effective leadership.