Partner Q&A: Behind the scenes with Vanessa Williams
Newly-appointed Asia Pacific Chair Vanessa Williams shares what motivates her, the best career advice she ever received, and just as importantly, what she does when not working.
What do you love most about your job?
Simply put, my clients and my team. I do business with people “I like”. Strong client relationships often turn into friendships. Working to create an environment for our team to excel, grow and have fun. So much time is spent at work it has to be a place you feel good coming to every day.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who was looking at starting out in your industry?
Client facing skills are so important and the core of our business. Ensure they fully understand not only what the client does but why they do it. Understanding clients and their motivation is so valuable when giving advice.
What would you do if you weren’t in your current role?
An owner/manager of a luxury lodge or hotel. I love travel, meeting new people and exceeding expectations.
Name 3 people that you would invite to a dinner party (living or dead).
Steve Jobs to find out what is going to be the next big thing, Rafael Nadal for endurance and dedication, and Oprah Winfrey for a “woman’s words of wisdom”.
What was your first job?
At 12 I was a shop assistant at the local newsagents. I learnt very early on about customer service, balancing a till and was able to read the magazines and books when the store was quiet.
What motivates you?
My clients’ successes, seeing my team becoming better at what they do and also planning the next holiday destination with my family!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
New Zealand of course!!! But closely followed by New York (I lived there for a while when I was in my twenties).
How do you start each morning?
A quick look at my emails to help me plan my day. Business is truly global and never sleeps so overnight there is always new emails in my inbox. We also live by the beach so on the weekends I go swimming with our dog.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?
Business is challenging and change is constant, so you need to be brave, receptive to that change and agile enough to take different paths in life, so embrace the journey.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Escaping the NZ Winter to Fiji – it’s a short flight, no jet lag and I can be lying on the beach within 30 minutes of landing in Nadi just reading, relaxing and rejuvenating in warm, balmy temperatures.
Name one item that you can’t live without.
My iPhone which has become an extension of my body. When I don’t have it, is feels like I have a limb missing!
What is the number one problem Alliott Group solves for your clients?
Access to global resources. We can provide the international contacts and connections that the large firms have yet we are still able to maintain that personalised approach.
Which countries do you most regularly work with?
NZ , Australia, Japan, UK and USA
What would say to a firm that is considering whether to join Alliott Group or a different international group?
For us it has been of significant benefit both in terms of business referrals from group members and also the quality of the members involved. To maximise this value make sure you attend the conferences to meet members face to face.
Describe Alliott Group in as few words as possible.
Professional and collegiate, providing a global expertise and perspective.