ANDREW PURDIE

ENTREPRENEUR
PROPERTY DEVELOPER
TV PRESENTER

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Andrew Purdie, CEO of Bennett Williams, spoke with The CEO Magazine recently about leadership and entrepreneurship, and what it takes to build a positive culture.

You’ve had a long career in the property development industry, what attracted you to founding Bennett Williams?

I view Bennett Williams as a stage in my journey and a brand that represents a desired destination that I always wanted to arrive at in my career. It symbolises all the things I ever wanted to do and achieve within the property industry. Bennett Williams is a diversified business that specialises in all the aspects I find interesting, challenging and personally fulfilling in the world of property.

I began my career in the property market in the real estate arena with no money behind me, and with nothing more than a dream of what I thought success looked like. Over many years I have run multiple companies with a focus on basic property developments that provided wealth creation and cash flow, however the process wasn’t stimulating creatively and I was not passionate about the end result.  It wasn’t until the last few years, having worked hard enough for long enough to have the financial capacity to be true to my core vision, that I was able bring Bennett Williams to life as a vehicle to explore all the projects I want to develop rather than simply money-making ventures.

Bennett Williams allows me fluidity in decision-making and access to a vast array of sectors within the property space. I now have the capacity to participate in exciting opportunities that deliver luxury homes, large-scale housing projects, social housing projects and lifestyle villages. And I can also play in the equity and debt space as a private financier for other developers.

What is your approach to entrepreneurship? What qualities do you have that you believe make you a successful entrepreneur?

It feels natural to me. At the beginning of my career being a successful entrepreneur was driven purely by my insecurities and a fear of failure, and a drive and determination that overrode this insecurity. I was corporately aggressive, didn’t sleep much, didn’t listen to advice and was stressed as hell, but I had a desire to succeed at all costs. I literally ran myself into the ground to achieve my financial goals.

I always understood that success was never going to be easy. I knew it would take a lot of hard work to reach the milestones I set within myself to make sure I was on the path to what I viewed as success. In hindsight this was crazy.  Now I approach my career very differently, and my purpose and drive comes from a very different place. I now do the things that fulfil me and make me happy. I have focused the business proposition with a much clearer direction and I have an amazing team that I work closely with every day. My approach these days is to import the intellect around me that I lack and to nurture and support them so that they want to support me in return. I am very aware of my strengths and I play to these, but it’s extremely important for me to understand my weaknesses. I know I lack design creativity, so I engage architects and interior designers who have the skill set to deliver homes that I fall in love with. I lack finely tuned finance skills so I work with the best finance adviser I know who advises, guides and brokers contracts. I’m still very much a risk taker however I now take carefully controlled risks that offer a significant outcome if successful but are not too damaging should the deal go awry. I never want to jeopardise the Bennett Williams brand, or my position. I network well, I’m extremely driven, I continue to learn every single day, I listen and take advice and I enjoy engaging consultants who I are much more talented than me in many areas that are not in my genius zone.

What is the purpose that drives you as a CEO?

For many years it was wealth and creating a lifestyle for my family and especially my children that I could be proud of, and that would allow my children to experience all the magical things life has to offer. Today, my drive is to continue to push a successful brand in the property space that is also recognised for making a difference. This year my drive is to integrate a pure social housing development arm into my business that distributes 100% of profits to a selection of charities that my family wish to partner with and support. It’s the most fulfilling part of my career to date. Driving a brand that continues to seek improvement and makes a difference socially at the same time.

What is the purpose that drives you as a CEO?

For many years it was wealth and creating a lifestyle for my family and especially my children that I could be proud of, and that would allow my children to experience all the magical things life has to offer. Today, my drive is to continue to push a successful brand in the property space that is also recognised for making a difference. This year my drive is to integrate a pure social housing development arm into my business that distributes 100% of profits to a selection of charities that my family wish to partner with and support. It’s the most fulfilling part of my career to date. Driving a brand that continues to seek improvement and makes a difference socially at the same time.

When you first got started, what key opportunities did you see for making Bennett Williams a leader within the industry?

The greatest opportunity I saw in the property development space was that if I worked as hard as I could and took calculated risks, it would ultimately lead to me making money and getting results. Medium density townhouse developments reaped the financial rewards I was seeking, however now the opportunities I seek out are ones that I fall in love with. I am passionate about bringing to life spaces that create warmth, romance and happiness for the occupants, and delivering developments that make an impact for the people living within them. Whether it be through affordable living options, projects positioned to support first home buyers or social housing, these are the projects I love creating. I see Bennett Williams as an industry leader, showing others that we can still create a great life for ourselves whilst being community-minded, socially considerate and environmentally responsible. There are so many people within every community who require and deserve our help. There has never been a greater separation between the wealthy and extreme poverty in our country. This has created major issues in basic human rights – housing, education, hygiene and  access to food and essentials, so Bennett Williams will be doing everything within our power to have maximum impact in making a difference in these areas, along with supporting a number of medical research programs and associated support help groups.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Work hard and don’t be afraid of failure. Nothing comes easy however the personal fulfilment you get from reaching goals and milestones far out ways the grind of hard work. My other piece of advice is get a mentor and make it someone you respect – not just someone who is successful in the area you are seeking success in. I personally have a mentor and it has made a massive difference in my career. He brings a different and responsible view to the table when I need help in decision-making. He continues to teach me the benefits of a cool head in stressful times and never to make rushed decisions due to external pressure. I won’t drop his name however he is an older gentleman from Queensland and has had a bigger impact on me and my career than he could probably ever imagine. I am extremely grateful for having him as my mentor.

To learn more about Bennett Williams, visit www.bennettwilliams.com.au.

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