We asked recently appointed Managing Director - Australia, Andrew Mailer, to tell us about his career journey and life outside of work, in our series promoting people of influence from around Beca.

What were you like as a child? What would your parents say?

I think they’d say I was outgoing. That I was a pest to my two older brothers. I was a typical youngest child out of three.

I grew up on a five-acre block on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga, in country New South Wales. We had a lot of freedom out there – much more than where I’m raising my family in inner city Sydney.

I took advantage of that freedom. My parents might say maybe I took a bit too much advantage of that freedom. I spent a lot of time outdoors.

I suppose my parents would say I was ambitious from the start. Probably driven by those competitive behaviours with my older brothers, and that flavoured my personality later on in life. 

What were you into as a child?

I started playing football at a young age – I’ve had a passion for it since I was about five or six years old. We built a soccer goal in our paddock. My father built it out of two pieces of timber, with a gutter across the top, and a makeshift net.

My first ever job was selling pumpkins when I was about eight or nine. My father used to grow them and he’d fill up a wheelbarrow, and my brothers and I would sell them from the side of the road for $2 each to whoever would stop. I’m not sure where that money went actually – I’ll have to send him an invoice at some point.

I moved to Sydney when I was 15 or 16. I wanted to challenge myself so I ended up going to boarding school on a football scholarship. Professional football was definitely a dream, and I was fortunate enough to get a taste of playing in the National Soccer League when I was 19. I was playing football but also going to university at the same time. Training during the day and then studying late at night. That was driven by my family saying: Give it every shot, but always think about a career outside of that dream. I’m very happy I did that.

I’m not playing football these days, but I do find that physical exercise gives me more energy, so I run three or four times a week. I find running a little boring – but I do like how I feel afterwards.

What are your other hobbies these days?
I read – I’m a fan of modern history and non-fiction, though I’m not reading much or running enough at the moment. I have three daughters. The older two are aged 5 and 3, and the youngest was born in March – just before I started this role at Beca, so it’s a busy household.
My wife and I both love to travel. She has Mexican and Italian heritage, and we met in a cafe in Copenhagen when we were both travelling.
I did a stint at Copenhagen Business School as part of my Bachelor’s degree. Spending time over there with such a diverse group of people from all over the world was something incredible. Plus I was fortunate to have met my wife there.

Every couple of years we travel to Mexico to see her family – although that’s getting harder to do with three children. My wife’s family are from a small place on the Pacific Coast called Zihuatanejo. You go there for a few days, and you feel like you’ve been away for a month.

How’s your Spanish?

Not very good. My three year-old is much better at it than me. I can say hello and goodbye, get water and a meal, but I can’t understand what my in-laws are saying. I always think, if they switch to Spanish, that’s when you know you’re in trouble!

Do you enjoy Mexican food?
I do, but I’m a person who eats to live, I don’t live to eat. I like that Mexican food is fast, simple and cheap. I’m fine with beans and rice, salsa, tortillas, and a cold beer.

Are your daughters interested in football?

Not so much. My older girls are very creative. They love arts and crafts, dancing, music. Whereas I never looked forward to art class. I was forced to learn the piano as a child – but it didn’t last long.
I tell you what was a great event though – the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Seeing my two eldest cheering at the Fan Zone was great. When I was growing up, young girls were cheering for the Socceroos - the men’s team. They had to have their sporting heroes as men – there was no publicity around women’s sport. To see young girls looking up to these female sporting heroes is a great thing.

What does a great weekend look like for you?
A great weekend would involve spending some time outdoors with the family at the beach, or a walk in the mountains.
We live in the inner-west, where we have a great cafe culture. So we’ll usually take the family for a walk on a Saturday morning. There’s a really nice community where we live with lots of young families.

Weekends are busy with the family, but we are still social. We do like to get the kids to bed early on a Saturday night and invite friends over for a glass of wine. 

How would your friends describe you?

I think they’d say I’m loyal. Even if I don’t see someone for a long period of time, I do find a way to maintain those relationships. I’d like to think they’d say I’m genuine. I don’t have any secrets from my close network and if I don’t agree I’ll tell them how I see it – it doesn’t always land well! 

What career advice do you give to those who are new to the industry?

I think that having an idea of what you are passionate about is worthwhile, but having a script for your career is not always helpful. Particularly in a world that is changing so fast, I think those who are open to saying ‘yes’ to unforeseen opportunities will likely get a lot more out of their career.
The other comment I would make is that you will learn far more from those around you than you learnt from a text book during your studies – particularly during informal interactions that are often unplanned. Being curious about others and investing in your relationships will help you be more effective in your work.

About the Author
Andrew Mailer

Managing Director – Australia

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