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Andrew SullivanManaging Director (FCPA)
Andrew’s path to co-founding GeersSullivan was not a conventional one—it’s part of what makes us different. Read on for the story that shaped our company.
Describe your path to starting GeersSullivan.
The path to getting here was not the traditional one: working at an accounting firm, going up through the ranks, getting a tap on the shoulder one day and buying in. I’ve always been slightly impatient. Mine was more of an insistence that I’m not waiting for somebody to ask—I’ll just go and start my own firm, which you can do; anyone can do that. What prevents a lot of people from doing it is a belief that someone else has to tell them they’re ready.
I started my career in commerce, which is markedly different from public practice. The background in commerce, plus the lessons learnt (sometimes the hard way) from owning several businesses allows me to do what I’ve done at GeersSullivan for the last eleven years—which is work with people to improve and grow their business.
I founded GeersSullivan in 2003 with Keith [Geers] after coming back from London. He had been planning on retiring in 1–2 years. As it turned out, things changed. We grew pretty rapidly, Keith was enjoying himself again and ended up staying with us for seven years before he retired.
What do you love about this business most?
It’s going to sound cheesy, but the people. We’re here long enough…we want to make it enjoyable for everyone. When we seek out new clients and team members we look for people who have the same mindset as us. When you’re working with people you enjoy being around, the outcome is far better.
What kind of clients do you prefer working with?
People with ambition. The ones that want more from themselves and for the people around them. I enjoy working with clients who are positive and reach further than their grasp. What I mean by that is they could be a small business who wants to become a much larger business and is active in doing that. It could be the owner of a large business who is looking for a new challenge and wants to expand further or bring a new generation into the business, or it could be someone who has spent their life building a business and now wants to use those same skills to focus on philanthropy. They’re all examples of great clients.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I start my morning pretty early at home. Before the kids get up I get an hour or so of time to make a list of the things I want to get done during the day and respond to any emails that came in from the afternoon before that I didn’t get to. I set myself an agenda of what I want to achieve in between any locked in meetings I have for the day…and without fail by the time I actually arrive at the office something will throw my well ordered agenda out the window.
What do you do outside of your work?
I’ve got a young family and a lovely wife. Our three kids keep us fairly busy. We love travelling and we are lucky that our kids are good travellers. We’re very involved at our kids’ school–I joined the school board about 3 years ago. My wife and I enjoy working with charities. GeersSullivan is heavily involved in charities, in particular Ronald McDonald House (RMHC). I was on the W.A. RMHC Ball Committee as Treasurer for 10 years and just this year I’ve been appointed to the board of Ronald McDonald House in Western Australia.
Favourite movie or TV show?
The Godfather (Parts 1 and 2 only!), the Star Wars trilogies, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Entourage. Even though I have the box set of all of them, if it comes on TV, I’ll record it to watch later on or if I’m flicking channels I’ll stop and watch it.
I generally only read for pleasure when I’m on holidays. A lot of the time I prefer biographies or autobiographies. I’ve read pretty much everything I can get on Steve Jobs. I enjoy Richard Branson’s autobiographies and the biographies on him where the author didn’t have the same rosy view as Sir Richard. My Dad gave me Jacky Stewart’s autobiography to read—he is someone who has led an inspirational life. His philosophy on life and business are very easy to identify with.
What’s on your bucket list?
For my wife and I to pack just enough belongings to fit into a small piece of luggage each, fly to Maranello in Italy and hire a nice car to drive from the top of the country to the bottom. I’d also love to one day take my family to live for a few months in the south of France in a villa to learn French, eat the delicious food and drink the exceptional wines from the region…it looks so good in the movies.