Think HBR

Let's Talk With Richard Anicich

Richard 1
1. In a few words tell us about your current role.
There are several. Having transitioned from a full time role 12 months ago I am now more focused on non-executive director roles in addition to continuing as a consultant with Sparke Helmore. I am currently the Deputy Chair on the Board of Hunter Primary Care and also a Director of Rural and Remote Medical Services, a company which provides infrastructure and practice management support to a number of medical practices in remote rural towns.
I have been on the Board of Hunter Business Chamber for almost 10 years, including 3 years as president, but that appointment is about to come to an end. However, I have taken on another challenge as Chair of the newly formed Committee for the Hunter so I will still have plenty of opportunity to play a role as a passionate advocate for sustainable growth and investment in the Hunter region.
2. How have you reached this point in your professional life?
It’s a long story. I have been fortunate to have been a partner of Sparke Helmore for 30 plus years and been part of a business which was founded in Newcastle in 1882 which had its only other office in Sydney when I joined the firm. Today it is a business with about 800 people in nine offices around the country so that has been quite a ride.
In looking for new challenges after a full time career as a partner in a busy law firm, the opportunity to use the skills and experience I had gained as a commercial lawyer and in business made the decision to transition to non-executive director roles a logical choice for me.
I was also fortunate to have been President of Hunter Business Chamber in the period 2011-2014 at a time when there was so much change and opportunity for the revitalisation of Newcastle CBD and the broader Hunter region. With all that happening it was easy to get excited for the future of the Region and to be a vocal advocate for change.
Starting out as a fresh faced university graduate with qualifications in law and accounting I had no idea what the future might hold but I have been open to new ideas and opportunities and been bold enough at times, particularly with a bit more experience under my belt, to challenge myself and avoid having to ask myself the “if only” question at times.
3. When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
At times commitments with full time work and my various community roles have not left a lot of time but I do enjoy time in the outdoors, whether it be a regular swim at Merewether Baths, snow skiing whenever the opportunity presents, bush walks or some more adventurous treks. I do try to keep fit and get to the gym on a regular basis. Travel is always exciting. My wife and I had about 6 weeks in Norway and Finland earlier this year chasing the northern lights and other wonderful experiences and we have just had 10 days in the Top End, our first time in that part of Australia.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
My family is a great sounding board and keeps me grounded. Their own achievements are also inspiring, particularly considering some of the personal challenges they have faced.
Travel is often an inspiration when you see and experience what happens elsewhere and how that could be translated into what we could achieve here. I remember being excited on a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne by the vibrancy in the city centre from having 2 university campuses in the city, tweeting photos from Milan of their light rail operating on shared rather than separated running when that debate was playing out in Newcastle, or wandering through the restored Treasury building in Perth and trying to envisage how our Post Office could be transformed.
5. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
My advice to anyone, regardless of what they do, is to back themselves and have a go. You do not want to be left wondering what might have been.
6. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
A few years ago I made it to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895m on a trek with my son. That was probably the hardest physical and mental challenge I have ever undertaken but extremely rewarding having made it. Last year I participated in a 5 day trek over about 85km on the Larapinta Trail in the West MacDonell Range and next years challenge is a 6 day trek over about 100kms on the Heysen Trail in the Flinders Ranges.
7. How would you like to see the Hunter evolve over the next
I think the Hunter is on the cusp of an exciting new era. The Newcastle CBD revitalisation works are nearing completion and this sets the city up as a more vibrant and liveable regional capital which will benefit the entire Region. The recently released Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan and the broader Hunter Regional Plan 2036 provide a blue print for how the region can grow and evolve into the future. One key challenge will be to create employment opportunities in the region which will retain the younger generation, attract others to work here and to create career paths which retain this talent in the Hunter. We can do this by supporting the growing start up ecosystem in the region, creating an environment which attracts larger businesses, both in advanced manufacturing and the services sector, and supports existing businesses to grow their operations in the region. This will involve attracting investment capital to the region and also creating an environment that will make the region a truly attractive place to live, work and play.
8. What’s your favourite Hunter restaurant/café/bar?
There are many but I enjoy a coffee at Bank in Beresford St and a few spots at The Junction. For a pizza it’s hard to go past Napoli on King St. For something different I enjoy a visit to Coal & Cedar on Hunter St.
9. Are you reading anything at the moment?
A book by Roland Perry on the efforts of Monash and Chauvel in WW1.
The western world is fortunate to have had John Monash do what he did at that time.
10. Do you have a favourite sport or team?
I’m a bit of a rugby tragic and even travelled to Eden Park to see the Wallabies outclassed by the All Blacks yet again in a recent Bledisloe test.
11. What’s the best line from a film you’ve ever heard?
There are probably a few if I thought about it but a couple that come to mind are “Just keep swimming” from Finding Nemo and “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” from The Godfather.