Lou Stojanovski is a Hunter leader on a mission to make his clients successful. A love of construction uncovered a passion for the law. After the right blend of extensive experience at large law firms, a well known local building company and a multinational, publically listed company, Lou has opened his own firm.
Keystone Lawyers is so named because Lou sees himself and his team as the lock in the arch of his clients. His focus on others success and leading by inspiration rather than dictation has unsurprisingly led to his own success.
In five years, Keystone Lawyers has grown rapidly, serving clients here in the Hunter, nationally and internationally.
- What path led you to your current role?
An interest in construction management helped to uncover my passion for the law. After gaining a scholarship with the McCloy Group, I was doing a lot of work reading and reviewing contracts. I really enjoyed that work. After completing my Building Degree, my first big job was constructing the Parnell Building at Newcastle Grammar School. Again, I loved the contract side of the job. At the time, you could only do law at The University of Newcastle full time, so I quit my job and went back to study. I spent 10 years at Sparke Helmore specialising in construction law but I wanted to be involved more broadly in client matters, not playing just one part. I opened Gillis Delaney’s Newcastle Office and became a partner. We handled a lot of work for Master Builders’ members. After leaving Gillis Delaney, I worked as Australian and South East Asian Legal Counsel for a multinational engineering and mining services company FLSmidt. During that time we worked on four major acquisitions and successfully handled complex litigation.
All of that experience gave me the expertise to open my own business. At Keystone I combine my passion for construction, development and the law. I work across a range of matters to help my clients to achieve their personal and business goals.
- How do you define the difference between a Manager and a Leader?
My approach to both management and leadership is similar. If there is a difference I suppose it is that a leader inspires people and creates breakthroughs. A manager directs a little more or puts the people in the right places. At Keystone, my job is to inspire my staff and constantly innovate to differentiate our services.
- Your business has grown quickly. Any lessons to share?
Keystone has grown quickly as did FLSmidt when I worked for them. My advice is don’t be afraid to set goals outside of your comfort zone. I was inherently a conservative person until my family and I survived a home invasion. I was determined to turn that harrowing experience into a positive. It changed my ability to take risks and made me realise I could do more than I thought I was capable of doing. If you have clearly set your core values and direction, got the right people in place who share that vision, you can achieve anything. The only thing that is holding you back is you.
- How do you lead a business whose clients are often outside the Hunter?
Technology makes it much easier to manage clients and projects remotely. I currently have clients with matters in Darwin, Brisbane and Western Australia. We talk on the phone and if I need to I jump on a plane and go see them. You don’t have to be meeting face to face all the time to get the job done. Sometimes that is counter-productive. In terms of our market being partly outside the Hunter, we have found that if you always do an excellent job, clients seek you out no matter where they are located.
- What business leader do you find inspiring? Why?
Although Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump are completely different in some ways they have the common trait of backing themselves and being upfront about what they want to do. They are not afraid to follow the less travelled path and do things outside the norm. Both men take risks and aren’t afraid to fail.