Graham Turner co-founded Australia’s biggest travel agency network, Flight Centre Travel Group. He remains managing director and 15% shareholder of the Brisbane-based company. The group has 1,500 travel shops across Australia and another 1,100 in 12 other countries. He also owns a thriving boutique hotel chain Spicers Retreats, run by his wife, Jude, and cycling retailer 99 Bikes, run by his son Matt. Turner qualified as a veterinarian, then moved to London to co-found his first travel company, Topdeck, in 1973.
Graham is not your usual corporate leader. He remains down to earth without the need to surround himself with the trappings of his success. The financial bottom line at Flight Centre is important, but it has been achieved because he also believes in empowering employees, rewarding initiative and fostering the spirit of a large tribe throughout the company. There are no extra perks for senior executives at Flight Centre unless everyone gets them.
Flight Centre has prospered, despite the Global Financial Crisis: in August 2010 its market capitalisation was $1.9 billion. The company is now truly international, operating approximately two thousand agencies and businesses in eleven countries, with 8000 staff. While Flight Centre is the flagship brand, the company has expanded into specialised markets under a range of brand names.
In this episode we talk about:
- Entrepreneurship and building businesses
- Graham’s definition of success
- The future of the travel industry with evolving technology and the rise of automation
- How Graham builds his network of people around him
- What a task force is and what value a task force can bring to a business
- How Graham maximizes the resources at his disposal
- Graham’s values of personal and professional growth and egalitarianism
- The importance of horizontal but also vertical/three-dimensional growth
- Balancing your work as an entrepreneur and knowing when to outsource work
- Finding joy in what you’re doing and not necessarily the end product
- How growing up in the bush shaped his life
- The lows and challenges Graham has faced in his career
- The need to constantly revisit and review the culture of your business as you grow
- What Graham does as CEO of Flight Centre
Where to find Graham Turner