As a CEO and director on numerous boards, Deloitte alum Brett Gamble has worked in a variety of interesting roles over his career. We caught up with him to discuss his memories of working at the firm, the challenges of being a CEO and his big screen cameo in a New Zealand spaghetti western.
What was your role at Deloitte and when were you here?
I started at the Deloitte audit practice in 1993, in Dunedin. I worked four years in Dunedin and then another two years in the Philadelphia office in the United States. Then, after leaving the firm to work in London and Australia, I returned to Deloitte in Christchurch where I completed 18 months in the corporate finance team.
What was your fondest memory here?
I’ve got lots! Deloitte was my first job and was such a great training ground, introducing me to how businesses work. The Deloitte environment has a lot to offer and you immediately get exposure to a range of really interesting people and businesses.
One memory that stuck with me is when I was working with Deloitte in Philadelphia. I took some leave and went on a trip to the UK. When I was there, I took trip across to Ireland for a long weekend and I arrived with just my card to withdraw money. For whatever reason, the banks there wouldn’t work with the card, and I had no access to cash.
So I went to a Deloitte office in Dublin, literally knocked on the door and said 'I'm here, I'm part of the Deloitte team and I'm stuck!' They called back to New Zealand to make sure that I was legitimate and they lent me some money! There you go – it was like being part of a global family!
Tell us a little bit about your current roles.
I work both as an executive and in a number of governance roles. For my executive work, I am CEO of the Ben Gough Family Office, a Family Office set up by a local Christchurch family descending from the founder of the Gough Gough and Hamer business. The Office includes management of an investment portfolio (property, private equity, liquid funds), a foundation for philanthropic activities, and a family component focused on integration of future generations.
A significant component of this role is running one of the Family Office joint venture companies, called LJ Partnership NZ (about to rebrand to Alvarium Investments). This is the Australasian arm of a global private wealth partnership, creating and accessing co-investment opportunities on behalf of 200+ wealthy families globally, currently with approximately $25 billion invested.
In addition to my executive role, I’m Chairman of Enable Networks (an ultrafast fibre network owner and operator), and am a director of Mike Greer Homes, Southbase Construction, New Zealand Assets Management and Mojo Coffee. I also have the privilege of chairing the Chalky Carr Trust, a Trust set up by a very good friend to raise funds for those “bound together by cancer”.
Are there any unique challenges as a CEO?
There's always challenges in any leadership role. One of my good friends and mentors always said to me that the one metre across to the other side of the CEO's desk is the longest metre in business. Sitting in the CEO's role can sometimes be lonely and involves courageous discussions and decisions that aren't necessarily liked by everyone. However, it is the best role in the business, where you have the most influence, get to build and lead great teams and create outcomes that otherwise may not have been achievable.
What has been the best moment in your career so far?
Lots of milestones have been highlights - my first CEO role, my first governance role, my first chair role. I also won the Deloitte Top 200 Young Executive of the Year award in 2006, so it was nice to get that recognition. However, the biggest highlight for me has come from contributing to, and seeing a number of New Zealand businesses succeeding locally and globally.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I love spending time with my family - my wife and three kids. They're all awesome so they're a huge focus for me. And then I love my sport - rugby, tennis, and I do a bit of running. I always enjoy a craft beer or a good coffee.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your current role?
Well, I have been lucky enough to have a varied career to date. I've been an executive director of a feature film in New Zealand, called Good For Nothing. It was filmed like the old spaghetti westerns – or as the Kiwi director described, a pavlova western! I also had a cameo - I was the first guy killed in the bar scene before the opening credits were finished. I think they recognised my acting talent, or lack thereof! So I've done some work in the movie business, trying to get funding and onto festival circuits, which I found pretty interesting.
I also managed the professional rugby player, Brad Thorn, for about 16 years. It was a very interesting work, doing contract negotiations in NZ and offshore. He was a brilliant player and won a huge number of rugby trophies.
So it's been an interesting and varied career, although I probably wouldn't be doing anything particularly different. I like having variety in my life and seeing world class talent succeed, whether that's on the sporting field, in film or in the world of commercial business. I'm lucky enough to be able to do that.