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7 Questions with Charles Galayini
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7 Questions with Charles Galayini
Name: Charles Galayini
Current title: Head of Business Development
Current organisation: GSA Insurance Brokers
I have been in the insurance industry for 15 years, working my way through various roles before landing in a business development role at GSA. Since then I've taken responsibility for business development across our organisation, leading a team that helps clients find a solution to the insurance challenges, and ensuring we deliver and exceed expectations.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The extra responsibility of leading a profitable company. My role is to be focused on generating new revenue. Now I have to balance client acquisition with staff well-being, budgets and client retention. It opened my eyes to the bigger picture and importance of sticking to the company vision.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I enjoy leading people, and have always gravitated to opportunities to lead. I was already managing our business development team, but when our Director of Business Development left the business, there was the opportunity to step into a bigger role with more emphasis on strategy, financial and personnel management. There was no discussion as to whether I wanted the role. Our CEO knew I was eager to have a bigger impact on the businesses, and with his and our Chairman's guidance, I am now confident I am adding value to our organisation in many areas.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Having a young family, and being a morning person, I like to get into the office early and get my day underway, so I am up at 5.15 and into the office by 7. I try to keep my mornings free from meetings to tackle as much as I can of the tasks I need to complete, and ensure my teams are moving in the right direction. Then after lunch I am generally out of the office, meeting with prospective or existing clients, or referral partners. Unless I have a function to attend, I am out of the office at 4pm sharp, to spend the afternoon and evening with my family. This is increasingly meaning taking kids to sport, which I absolutely love. After books and bed for the kids, I'll alternate between spending time with my wife, or jumping back on my emails to tidy up the day's work so I can sleep peacefully. During the week bedtime is generally no later than 10pm, or I don't function so well the next day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The word poise sticks in my mind. I'm an eager, excitable person with lots of energy and enthusiasm. That's often a good value, but in leadership that can also lead to rash decisions, or acting without thinking things through. I've had some key people both internally and externally to GSA help me develop the ability to stop and think on things, sometimes overnight if I have to, and that allows me time to see things from other perspectives, and make informed decisions.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Above the Line, by Urban Meyer. He was a Football coach in American Football College who helped change the culture of a football team that led to them achieving unrivaled success. I've tried reading leadership books before, but because of the sporting analogies, I connected with this book and couldn't put it down. This book reinforced the lessons I'd learned - event + response = outcome. You can't change the event, but you can change your response, and that will impact the outcome. It also reinforced that sometimes you have to have hard conversations with people you lead if you want them to take on constructive feedback and grow.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
It starts with your existing leaders constantly striving to be better. If your executives are sitting still, it's likely the rest of the organisation is as well. If you executives are challenging themselves and become better leaders, this creates opportunities for the next generation of leaders to test themselves and develop their skills. I've learnt identifying leaders is easy, but giving them genuine opportunities to be leaders is harder, but much more rewarding.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
We went through significant change within our organisation, both from an ownership and loss of long term staff. There is no doubt that creates disruption, and with disruption comes a level of fear and uncertainty. But it also creates opportunity, and two key ingredients - strategy and communication - can help the business revitalise itself, and move on to bigger and better things. We are only part the way through our revitalisation, but the future is certainly bright.