Q&A with Anthony Dobbyn, Founder and Partner of Dobbyn & Carafa Corporate Advisors & Chartered Accountants

Welcome to the first of our interview series of Business Leaders from the Finance & Accounting industry. Today we speak to Anthony Dobbyn, Founder and Partner of Dobbyn & Carafa Corporate Advisors & Chartered Accountants. Since 2006, Anthony's firm has successfully serviced and supported a range of growing Australian SME's and Mid-Sized companies.

amge+: Please name a person who has been a great influence on you as a leader.  How did this person mould your style?

AD: I have been fortunate to have had a number of people who have influenced and moulded my leadership style, including friends and family members. I have always had the approach of trying to learn different skills from EVERYONE I come into contact with, even those people I don’t necessarily like or relate to. There is always something to learn from everyone, even if it relates to how you DO NOT want to be as a leader. I am genuinely curious and interested in people.

However, If I had to pick just one person, it would be my father.

I always respected his raw intelligence, frank and direct communication style, relentless integrity and honesty in his dealings with people. Everyone who met me who knew my father, mentioned what a decent person he was and what an impact he had made on their lives – this is in essence my life’s aim, to help people and try to have a positive impact on them through honest, direct communication underpinned by a deep care for their welfare.

amge+: When did you first develop an interest in your career?

I have come from a long list of entrepreneurs on both sides of my family, so I guess there is no mystery as to the reason why I decided to break from the ranks of ‘employee’. My father was also an accountant with his own firm and I worked with him during my Uni study breaks and to earn a little income to help me get through the ‘poor days’.

However in truth, I think I could have undertaken any number of different career paths, but what drove my decision was the desire to serve and help people. I have always had an interest in the commercial world and more specifically in SME business: what works and what causes issues.

So, my own interest in questioning why businesses were successful or not was the trigger for my studies and journey to find the answer. My interest was in people and service, so the combination made professional service/accounting and finance a logical choice – also it was a well established and clear course structure at University.

amge+: How would you describe your style as a leader?

AD: I will describe my style as:

·         Direct

·         Honest

·         Caring

·         Determined

·         Humorous - this is a big part of my style, being really silly at times and engaging with the team at a human level

·         Challenging people to lift

·         Expecting a very high standard at all times- I expect more from myself though.

amge+: What is your mission as a leader?

AD: I want to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone who comes into contact with me, giving them strategies and tactics to help them reach their own goals.

amge+: What are the top three habits you have cultivated that consistently contribute to your success?

AD:

1.      I maintain a detailed to do list and update it every day;

2.      I have crucial conversations when required - sooner than later (with respect and dignity of course);

3.      I exercise regularly – specifically running around Albert Park Lake at least 3 times per week

amge+: What does it take to become a leader that people want to follow?

AD: You simply must do what you say you will and expect nothing from the team that you are not prepared to do yourself.

You MUST lead by example.

Most of all, you must care at least as much about your team as you do about yourself – a big call and can mean that you are vulnerable and can get hurt when people let you down, but I’ve found the positives outweigh the negatives.

You cannot be right all the time, particularly if you hire smarter people than you are – admit when you’re wrong.

amge+: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

AD: Aside from my normal technical training and development, I am involved in TEC (The Executive Connection) which is an international organisation focussed on developing effective leaders in business. Execs meet once a month to hear external speakers and discuss issues in a common group forum.

amge+: When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?

AD: Qualifications are not the driver in our hiring process as these can be trained. It is the ‘softer’ qualities I look for which basically include values such as integrity, humility, honesty and humor.

amge+: What advice would you give someone who was interviewing with you/your company?

AD:

·         Be honest, even if the answer may not assist you (in your mind)

·         Understand It’s not only about you, its about what you can do for your employer and the organisation

·         Show evidence that you know something about the company and the person you are speaking to

·         Be prepared to go on a journey, don’t expect it all NOW!

amge+: What personality traits do you most look for in a candidate and what might we be surprised to learn that you don't look for?

AD:

·         I don’t look for academic intelligence and book smarts. They typically can’t translate their smarts into commercial reality. We come across that all the time in our dealing with some of the larger firms (no names!)

·         I don’t look for aggressively motivated or ambitious types – they get bored and are therefore boring to everyone around them.

·         I look for someone who is down to earth, self aware, mature in their outlook on life and who I think will be able to communicate and work well with their colleagues and most importantly with clients, after all that is the ONLY reason we are here.

amge+: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

AD: Listen and seek to understand first

Respect those that know more than you

Be humble. Understand your value but don’t bash people over the head with it, if it is real, they will see

amge+: How do you juggle your work and home life priorities?

AD: With great difficulty.

You need to be honest about whether you really want to get home to your family – if you do then you will. In other words you will make decisions that allow you to have time at home.

I do think some people use work as an excuse, when really they are getting off on the adrenalin and challenge of work and would prefer to be there and not at home – just a view.

amge+: If you had chosen a completely different career, what would it have been?

AD: Army, Airforce or police force.

I spent time in school cadets, then a small time with the reserves and reg army over summer break which I loved: the physical action, the toys, and the camaraderie with your mates. There is an extremely strong mateship culture in our armed forces which I relate to.

amge+: What excites you most in your day to day work?

AD: Interaction with People

Getting told you’ve done a great job – getting a thank you is big in my world.