"Time to tackle new opportunities": Q&A with Frontier's Kerrie Williams December 2017

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Frontier Advisors' veteran, Kerrie Williams, has called time on her role with the firm following her 20-year anniversary just a few months ago. To mark her final week, she speaks with Industry Moves about some of her adventures along the way, including her 'mini careers', memorable colleagues, lessons learnt, challenges faced, next steps, and why you should never, ever, use the microwave at work!

What have been some of the highlights of your 20-year tenure with Frontier?

I enjoyed working closely with clients as an investment adviser over many years, but particularly helping them successfully navigate through the GFC period and the liquidity and performance challenges that presented. Leading the development of our Partners Platform offering has been another highlight, given the impact it’s had in supporting the changing needs of our client base and reshaping our advice delivery over recent years. Developing staff and seeing them grow through the firm has also been enormously rewarding. But the biggest highlight would be meeting my husband at a colleague’s wedding (thanks to Andrew Howard at VicSuper!)

…and why is now the right time to explore life outside Frontier?

After celebrating my 20 year anniversary with Frontier in September, it seemed like the right time to tackle new opportunities. I also have a strong sense of achievement about the progress Frontier has made in recent years as a business and know that the team is in great shape, with the next generation of leaders coming through.

"The biggest highlight would be meeting my husband at a colleague’s wedding."

Last time we spoke, you mentioned “some real characters” that you work with at Frontier. Can you highlight a few of these ‘characters’ that have made an impact on you?

Frontier has always valued diversity and allowing people to be themselves in the workplace. While I won’t name names, it has led to the infamous “drying socks in the microwave” incident, weigh-ins of fund managers, hugely popular dress-up events, questionable food obsessions, footy fanaticism, cringe worthy dad jokes, and the list goes on… It’s all part of what makes Frontier a great and memorable place to work!

You also mentioned that you felt as if you had a series of ‘mini-careers’ throughout your time with the firm. Which aspect of this have you enjoyed most?

It would be hard to stay in a workplace for so long without the variety I’ve experienced in my role, the opportunity to take on new challenges, and to constantly be learning and growing. Understanding a business holistically has been really enjoyable – having worked as both an adviser and then in all operational areas, has underpinned my work in helping shape our strategy, technology and the team in more recent years.

What’s the greatest lesson that you’ll take away with you?

In life before Frontier, I studied science at university, then worked in the retail sector for seven years before doing my MBA. All before an incredibly varied career within Frontier. So my greatest lessons have been to persevere, do things you love and do them to the best of your ability, and seek out and embrace new opportunities, even if it seems a little meandering at times!

…and what has been a particular challenge that you've faced and how did you overcome it?

There have been a number of challenges over the years, but I recall being a foundation member of Frontier back in 2000, with a small team of 10 and the need to build a business. As is the case now, collaboration was key and everyone pitched in to do what was necessary to make Frontier the successful organisation it is today.

…and what has been the best piece of advice that you have received?

Take every opportunity to develop your people skills as well as technical skills – ultimately it’s people that matter. Oh, and don’t use the microwave at work (see above)!

Throughout your two-decades worth of “mini-careers”, how have you maintained a work/life balance?

I think this is a constant challenge! My husband Brad leans in spectacularly to allow us both to have meaningful and productive careers, and we have terrific support from family. Flexible work and being passionate about the purpose of an organisation and the work you do are also important, and help in dealing with the shifts in balance that occur from time to time.

What’s next on the cards for you?

I’m looking forward to a break over the summer to spend time with my teenage daughter Hannah. A chance to reflect and then to consider opportunities in the New Year. Non-executive roles is one avenue I’m keen to explore but lots of ideas have been emerging, so a break will be helpful to revisit these ideas with a fresh perspective.

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