Jetset life becomes part of the day’s work

FORMER Perth-based Andersen corporate finance head partner and inaugral 40under40 winner, Justin Willis is pursuing a role with AC Management, the independent events management spin-off from the Swiss-based Alinghi consortium that won the America’s Cup in New Zealand earlier this year.

Mr Willis’ move comes after a challenging five month’s consulting to UK-based motor racing identity David Richards whose main business interests are centred on big sporting events and have many parallels with AC Management’s task to host the regatta at Valencia in Spain in 2007.

The recent contract was to personally advise Mr Richards on a three-year corporate strategy regarding his role as the chairman of UK private company Prodrive which includes, among other things, acting personally as the team principal of the rapidly improving BAR Formula One team, principal of the Subaru rally team and chairman of the company that holds the worldwide commercial rights to the World Rally Championships.

Mr Willis’ role was to help Mr Richards prioritise his various personal and business affairs in a way that maximised his investments and provided the best return for all relevant company stakeholders.

This job was a seven-day-a-week tour of the formula one and world rally circuits, not to mention various other high adrenalin pursuits that are trademarks of the hectic European motorsports executive.

Mr Richards brought Mr Willis on board for Project Forest, so dubbed because time pressures meant he "couldn’t see the proverbial forest for the trees".

"He is the busiest guy I have ever met in my career," Mr Willis said.

The next stage in the project was a 12-month implementation contract, which did not interest Mr Willis as much as pursuing a role with the Alinghi consortium’s management of its Amercia’s Cup defence.

Alinghi is backed by another high rolling European executive Ernesto Bertarelli, the head of pharmaceutical company Serono and identified as the world’s second richest man under 40.

While Geneva and Valencia beckon the keen Royal Perth-based yachtsman, Mr Willis is back in Perth to enjoy the summer after a schedule that took him to 14 countries in 136 days and involved 31 commercial airline flights (not to mention the private jet and helicopter flights) with 62 separate hotel check-ins.

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