Greg Farrow is a ‘roll your sleeves up’ type of leader who works in and on his business.
Over almost three decades he has helped to grow Pitcher Partners Newcastle & Hunter to be one of the Hunter’s leading accounting and business advisory firms. It now boasts six partners and more than 50 staff across its offices in Newcastle, Maitland and Singleton.
Greg is also a leader who is passionate about giving back to business and community. He is a Past President of the Maitland Business Chamber and the Founder and Chairman of the Maitland Hospital Foundation. Greg is always happy to lend a hand to organisations building a stronger community and is currently a member of the McDonald Jones Homes’ Foundation Board.
- What path led you to your current role?
I have been with the firm for 28 years and prior to that I worked in commerce and for a Newcastle accounting firm, which nicely rounds out my experience for the current role.
I was working for Coopers and Lybrand when I got a call from Beattie, McDonald and Co. all those years ago asking me to come and work for them. There were eight of us in the Church Street office in Maitland. I then became a partner. The business became Farrow Wyatt and then in 2013 we joined Pitcher Partners.
- If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Professional services have been greatly impacted by technology and we need to use it more effectively to benefit clients.
We have made the change at Pitcher Partners but more leaders in our industry need to embrace moving from a compliance-based role to having a more advisory role. This is increasingly important as the Baby Boomer generation ages. So many of them have not made proper plans for retirement. At Pitcher Partners, we are always looking for ways to help people and business to grow wealth. Our industry needs to give more integrated, independent and proactive advice on strategy, succession planning, accounting and wealth management.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
Leadership and management go hand in hand. A leader innovates and inspires whilst a manager administers.
Some leaders can be managers but it is not always the case. Richard Branson is a classic example. A good leader is smart enough to recognise that he or she doesn’t know everything and surround themselves with smart people. [That is what I have done at Pitcher Partners!]
- What do you believe makes business in the Hunter unique?
Although Newcastle is the State’s second largest city it has a different culture to Sydney. We also contribute more than our share to the State’s economy sometimes without support or recognition. I think that unites us and makes us self-sufficient.
Here, you see people working together. There is a high level of involvement in the community by business. A good leader gives back to their industry and community.
I see that in The Maitland Hospital Foundation. We have received some very generous support from businesses, helping us to raise more than $400,000 for vital equipment so far in our short history.
I also sit on the McDonald Homes Foundation Board and I marveled as the company helped build a home for the Children’s Cancer Institute in only two weeks. That’s the Hunter ‘roll your sleeves up and help get the job done’ attitude that may not be unique but is alive and well in the Hunter.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
There are many inspiring business people and I’d have to name more than one.
Alex Abrahams has made Pacific Smiles a real local success story. Many local people have shared in this success.
Andrew Hemers and Bill McDonald have taken McDonald Jones Homes to being the number one builder of detached houses in NSW.
Martin and Meg Heffron (a Chartered Accountant and Actuary respectively) have created a significant national self-managed superannuation service provider.