Interview with Philip Walters
What has been the best advice ever given to you?
Early in my career, a wise businessman told me, "You can go for months without thinking about strategy or mergers or acquisitions but you cannot have a day when you are not obsessed with operations, people and cash flow". .
While it is important for every business to have a clear strategy, the most important element is the execution of that strategy – even the greatest strategy will fail if it is implemented poorly.
What are the traits that you look for in a leader?
Leaders need to articulate a clear vision for the future of their business. They need to be decisive and be able to inspire their team. I also believe that the best leaders have emotional maturity and are comfortable with ambiguity – corporate life is never straightforward and decisions are rarely ‘black’ or ‘white’.
Tell us about a memorable challenge and the lesson that you gained from it.
My most recent major challenge was recruiting an entire senior management team for Harry’s.
I required senior board level executives from Finance, Marketing, Culinary as well as Operations and I needed to recruit them quickly. I had forgotten how long it takes to find great people and to get them into the business. All the candidates were in employment and so it took some time as they had to tender their resignations and serve out their notice. The lesson learnt – use a great recruitment agency!
What keeps you motivated everyday?
The joy of working with a fantastic team of like-minded individuals who share the goal of taking a much-loved Singapore brand like Harry’s and pushing it to the next level by revamping the food offering and improving the overall customer experience.
What do you do to unwind?
I have been spending quite a bit of time unwinding over the weekends at various Harry’s outlets actually! That is the time when I can interact with my staff, have a beer with them and find out in general how they are doing. It is also a chance for me to sit back and experience Harry’s as a customer, as opposed to working within the environment.
What is your typical weekend like?
Having been in Singapore for 18 months so far, I have been spending some time every weekend exploring parts of Singapore. Travelling on buses and on the MRT, I have ventured to areas such as Sembawang and Woodlands, as well as enclaves like Arab Street and Haji Lane.
On Sundays, I typically like to just relax and chill out at home, reading the papers and catching up with friends when the opportunity arises.
Brief career history (dates / role / company / location)
With more than 20 years’ experience of private equity investing, Philip Walters has bought built and sold several companies in such sectors as travel, inflight entertainment, gaming and public houses. Today, Philip is based in Singapore and has a diverse portfolio of interests and investments including F&B Asia, Premier Training International, Pebble Hotels and Everstone Capital Management. Philip is married with three children and, outside of work, is a keen skier and an enthusiastic but technically challenged golfer.
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