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5 MINUTES WITH BRIAN HARTZER: ‘I once had lunch with Her Majesty The Queen’

November 18 2021

We’re excited to be working with leadership expert Brian Hartzer on the campaign for his new book, The Leadership Star: A Practical Guide to Building Engagement. We asked Brian our 5 questions to find out more about him, his book, and his vision:


1. Pitch in 10 - sell us your book in less than 10 words

Highly Engaged teams win. Here’s how you can build one.

2. Audience of One -  If you could choose ONE person to read your book who would it be and why? 

The Leadership Star is the book I wish I had had when I was starting out as a leader. It would have saved me many years of learning through hard experience, and given me a memorable framework I could have used to bring more consistency and effectiveness to my various roles.

Not having a time machine to go back and give it to myself, I’d hope that another young leader who wants to make a difference to their organisation is able to apply the Leadership Star framework to turbocharge their career, growing into larger roles that then inspire other leaders to create meaningful work for all their people. In other words, my hope is that this book creates a ripple effect by growing better leaders.

Eventually I was asked by a colleague to share what we were doing, and boiled it down into five things, all of which started with C. To make it memorable, I called it the Leadership Star, based on five points of a star. That turned into a presentation I gave to managers in my businesses; they applied it and found it worked, and eventually it became one of the key tenets of Westpac’s Leadership Development Program.

Along the way one of my communications advisors suggested I put it into a book, and the COVID-enforced lockdown seemed the perfect opportunity to do that.

3. Behind the Book - Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’m not a trained manager—I don’t have an MBA. So when I was put in charge of my first business, managing 1000 people, I felt quite uncertain about how to go about it. The one certainty I had was that if I could attract the best people in my industry to work for us, and create an environment where they could thrive, then we would win. So I started paying attention to leaders who had built strong engaged cultures, watching what they did, and began applying the lessons in my own business. It worked, our staff engagement scores went up, and we became the highest performing business in the company.

4. Guess what? Tell us one thing that readers might be surprised to hear about you. 

I once had lunch with Her Majesty The Queen. As CEO of a large global bank (Westpac), I’ve had the opportunity to meet many leading CEOs and entrepreneurs. But my role as CEO of Coutts brought with it some particularly interesting experiences. While I can’t disclose what we talked about, I can say that her knowledge of current events and interest in looking ahead to the future was exceptional.

5. The next chapter - what’s next for you?

After 30 years in corporate life, I’m enjoying the chance to work with startup founders and their teams to scale up and take their solutions to the world. In addition to leadership team and CEO mentoring, I am currently the Chairman of Beforepay, a Sydney-based pay-in-advance business; Reejig, an AI-based HR talent management system, and another Fintech business that is building an exciting niche lending proposition. It’s nice to have the brain space to think about how the explosion in new technologies can create new opportunities to serve consumers and support businesses as they grow.

To get a review copy or to book in an interview, contact Teresa Richardson at teresa.richardson@thebookpublicist.co.uk

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