Following roles at Multiplex and Stockland, he is now Chief Operating Officer of UrbanGrowth NSW, the NSW Government’s urban transformation delivery organisation.
Julian tells us how his career unfolded and about his new role.
Julian, congratulations on recently being appointed COO of UrbanGrowth NSW. Tell us more about your new role and where your career after Clayton Utz has taken you?
As COO, my role is to establish the strategy, build the organisational platform and manage much of the day-to-day operations at UrbanGrowth NSW. I am constantly challenged by the complexity of our projects, which include some of Australia’s highest profile urban regeneration opportunities.
My journey started 15 years ago when I completed a combined civil engineering and law degree at UNSW. After finishing, I found that I was torn between the desire to develop real estate and the allure of strategy consulting and law. Because of my ‘bi-polar’ approach to career planning, I initially spent time working as a strategy consultant at Bain and later as a lawyer at Clayton Utz. This experience provided a solid professional footing for my development roles at Multiplex, Stockland and now at UrbanGrowth NSW.
What does an average day for you involve?
My average day involves interacting across senior layers of Government (including Ministers, Secretaries and CEOs), working with the UrbanGrowth NSW executive team, and rolling up my selves to help out with major transactions, HR, financial or strategic matters.
How is your current role different to working as a lawyer at Clayton Utz?
My role at UrbanGrowth NSW is about developing a strategy and mobilising resources to deliver against this strategy. Unlike my time spent in law, my personal output is limited by the fact that most of my day is spent in meetings, so I rely heavily on a very capable executive team to produce results. That is probably a good thing, because I don’t think I was the world’s most productive lawyer!
What are some of the more challenging and/or interesting aspects of your role?
I find my work really enjoyable. I think it comes down to the fact that you get to work on some of the most complex and significant projects in Australia. Furthermore, you get a chance to influence the growth trends for how people are going to live and work for generations to come in Sydney.
What are your career high points, to date?
I would have to say that one of my career highlights was the recent Bay International Summit in November 2014. This was a fantastic opportunity for UrbanGrowth NSW to bring some of the best urban renewal experts from around the globe to Sydney, and to share ideas and experiences.
Tell us about your time at Clayton Utz. What were some of the highlights/memories?
I remember fondly completing a Summer Clerkship at Clayton Utz and later working within Graeme Gurney’s Property and Structure Finance team. I still remember the corridor cricket and famous Christmas parties!
What skills gained at Clayton Utz have been most valuable in your career?
Lawyers are precise creatures. By our nature we need to have finely attuned antennae for risk and accuracy. These skills are extremely valuable in a managerial capacity.
What is the best advice (career or personal) you have been given?
I think that you need to pursue something which makes you genuinely happy whilst also playing to your strengths. Good advice given to me was to be patient and resilient.
How do you like to spend your time away from the office?
I have fantastic wife and three young boys… which makes life fun but also chaotic! Most weekends I’ll escape for a paddle on Sydney Harbour in my ocean kayak or a surf at Manly. I’m constantly amazed by the beauty of Sydney from the water, and it’s something which I’m passionate about preserving.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination would have to be Manly. Yes Manly, 30 minutes from the CBD! Why? It’s perfect for three young kids because they don’t scream at you in the car for very long.
How do you like to keep informed on a daily basis? Twitter, newspaper etc?
We have an UrbanGrowth NSW media report which keeps me informed. I also try to make time to thumb through the AFR and on-line newspapers on the train to work.