Thomas Strachan, founding Director and CEO of AWX. A business that solves short and long term staffing requirements.
Born in south west Queensland, Roma on 24/10/1973.
After spending the younger years in Western Qld where the luxury of experiencing a strong bush upbringing was provided he matriculated from the Brisbane Grammar School in 1990. Quickly returning to the bush, he commenced jackerooing in the Arcadia Valley.
Potentially spurred on by his family roots being deeply entrenched in Northern Queensland history, Tom spent the majority of his late teens and twenties exploring the gulf of Queensland, working on cattle stations.
On route to the USA just prior to 2000 to train cutting horses, Thomas came through Brisbane but never left having met his future wife. After seeing the development of the recruitment industry and his interest in personnel management gleaned from leadership roles in stock camps Thomas entered the labour hire industry on the advice of some family friends.
Within 18 months the opportunity presented for Thomas and his now long time mentor (Peter Varley) to take over the business they were controlling. So in late 2000 AWX was born. As a founding Director and later solo Director, Thomas has played all roles within the AWX ranks, from payroll through head of sales to CEO…and at one time, all at once. AWX is now a recognised business across Australia with sales exceeding 100M.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Cowboy, Family-man, Businessman.
What is your life motto? Ride hard and don’t fear the spills!
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? Unsure I am successful yet as every summit is a false peak, as we head to the next one. If success is the gathering of quality people and having fun in what you do and within your family, then that was many moons ago.
How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? I am unsure you can measure this as your life is a journey that all culminates in where you are today.
What are the challenges in your line of work? Gathering the superstars and putting them in game breaking positions. Keeping the message and our story consistent to the team as it grows.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Trying to do too much and have investments outside your core business that could require your attention and therefore distracts you from your primary mission… you can’t shit on two toilets so slow it down to speed it up.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date?
Bite off more than you can chew then chew like hell, Or
Water finds its’ own level Or Cowboy up.
I can never decide?
In your mind, is formal training essential? Definitely not. I have never seen a degree that majored in: street smarts, charismatic leadership, mongrel, tenacity, courage under fire, respecting supporting and serving people, and the simple old concept of hard work to do what it takes.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Essential!! A mentor does not need to be specific to an industry. They just need to be neutral and can therefore provide balanced opinion. Not to mention they need grey hairs and life experiences in both personal and business matters. Being part of a business/peer group that can act as an informal board is also great value as long as the group has clear rules around attendance, discipline and confidentiality.
What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career?
A model that works
A team whose vision you can be passionate about
An organisation with core values that align with yours
An organisation with strong and involved leadership, with mentoring as a strong component
A mentor on top of surrounding yourself with quality performers
Then find that special something about yourself while working your arse off.
What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? Courage under fire with the willingness to do what it takes. Strengthened by the 100% commitment to achieve the mission.
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Negative. In saying that, I haven’t ‘made it’ so not qualified to answer. However, I will say this, luck is a word used by those not willing to do what it takes when they see what someone achieves who is willing to do what it takes. Luck: a disguise for hard work.