New Rod on the team

Ernst & Young’s newest recruit for its Perth office, Rod Willers, views the rationale for his recent workplace move in the same terms as the work he does for clients.

Mr Willers unreservedly enjoys the buzz of being in a "nursery for the future blue chips and big corporates" just as much as moving beyond a personal career comfort level, with each affording the opportunity to effect and to experience a paradigm shift, from current limits to a new set of boundaries.

As one of three directors and two partners comprising the firm’s Entrepreneurial Services group, Mr Willers’ forté is business development consulting.

Mr Willers defines as essentially entrepreneurial companies, those which demonstrate a commitment to growth, to the extent they produce tangible benefits, not only for themselves and investors, but also employees and consumers.

Such companies usually produce a larger and more innovative or service range, offer superior growth and promotional opportunities for employees, and create new job opportunities for others in the community.

"These are the companies which change the way we live," he says.

Fostering these companies involves developing a relationship to the extent Mr Willers feels he is almost a board member. Regularly sitting in on the boards of almost two dozen different companies, Mr Willers is able to share his insights to bolster chief executive officers’ confidence in the appropriateness of strategies.

These strategies cover the core factors of financing for growth, acquisitions and sales, strategic alliances and market expansion.

But while driving the growth strategies, Mr Willers’ work also involves a lot of company analysis and relationship-building so that fundamental issues, such as maintaining focus on the core drivers of a business, remain the rationale behind all decisions.

"We have to offer more than the traditional accounting profession has, with its hourly fee structure. We’re not offering real value if we’re not up to date on the business of the company, working with its business model and understanding all its needs. We need to generate value from the beginning, rather than just bills."

Starting out in the banking world for seven years, then qualifying and working as a traditional accountant, Mr Willers recognises wealth-building for a client company, and the individuals leading it, as a key priority, but sees this as more than just tax minimisation and funds management.

In the past five years, companies have been hit with an acceleration in the rate at which business is conducted and have had to begin redefining long-established business models in response to e-commerce and globalisation.

These same factors will continue to drive changes through the next decade, Mr Willers predicts.

He also contends the smaller and younger companies carry the most advantage in this climate, in that they can move with greater agility and adapt more quickly.

Those who come out on top will be the companies which can most readily identify or redefine opportunities and those which offer personal service to customers.

But whatever the future changes and needs, Mr Willers says the entrepreneurial companies, those which are absolutely committed to growth, will always be the ones who recognise business is always changing, and which say: "We can’t put our heads in the sand. We need to look around."

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