When you have accomplished everything you set out to and achieved the ambitions and promises you made to yourself, where do you go next? While there is always the opportunity to build on your successes and diversify, Andrew Purdie, CEO of property developers Bennett Williams, has found a new kind of fulfillment through philanthropy.
Using the incredible skill set and team he has built as one of the foremost property developers in Australia, he’s giving back with plans to revolutionize social housing. Purdie is also hoping to inspire others to make giving back a focus of 2023 with his new podcast, The Hidden Philanthropist.
"This year, my drive is to integrate a pure social housing development arm into my business that distributes 100 percent of profits to a selection of charities my family wish to partner with and support," he explains.
"It’s the most fulfilling part of my career to date. Driving a brand that continues to seek improvement and makes a difference socially at the same time."
Mindset: Changing as you grow
There is no doubt that time and success have changed Purdie’s mindset. "At the beginning of my career, being a successful entrepreneur was driven purely by my insecurities and a fear of failure; and a drive and determination that overrode that insecurity," he says.
"I was corporately aggressive, didn’t sleep much, didn’t listen to advice and was stressed as hell, but I had a desire to succeed at all costs. I literally ran myself into the ground to achieve my financial goals. In hindsight, this was crazy. Now, I approach my career very differently and my purpose and drive come from a very different place."
Recognizing that surrounding himself with talented co-workers who excel in the areas of business he feels are not his areas of expertise has freed Purdie up to focus on his strengths.
"My approach these days is to import the intellect around me that I lack and to nurture and support them so that they want to support me in return," he says. "I enjoy engaging consultants who are much more talented than I am in the areas that are not in my genius zone."
Giving back has become a louder calling and it is something he feels could benefit so many other CEOs. He has set up The Purdie Foundation as he switches his focus from what he can accumulate, to what he can share.
"The Foundation will focus on delivering social housing projects as a solution to the massive social housing issue in Australia; whilst at the same time, delivering a considerable amount of money to not-for-profits," he says.
Purdie is also hoping the launch of his new podcast The Hidden Philanthropist will inspire others to get out there and support charities and causes which speak to them. "I feel a personal obligation to help those who genuinely need help," he explains.
"I have had a wonderful career to date and have achieved many things I never thought possible. Now it has come to a stage in my life where I feel it’s my time to help others. I can – so I should."
Philanthropy: A personal mission
Purdie appreciates the opportunity to give back as he feels he has been able to provide so much to his family through building his company Bennett Williams. He wanted to be able to send his children to the best schools and take them on incredible journeys, having grown up in a single-parent, low-income family himself, where he watched his mother’s sacrifices for her children.
He believes this has given him an empathetic outlook and the motivation to share his knowledge, expertise and wealth to help others in the most effective way possible. He started by making sure the company was community-minded, socially considerate and environmentally responsible, but that was not enough.
After personally feeling inspired by hearing the stories of others who contribute their time and energy, Purdie was perplexed by the fact that so often, this area of someone’s life remains uncelebrated.
"It’s both ugly and frowned upon to push your own agenda when it comes to philanthropy and helping others. However, there are so many incredible people out there who need to have their agendas highlighted and their philanthropic work spoken about in a public forum," he notes.
Now he is hoping to be part of a culture shift himself. "I love communicating with people and engaging them in conversation; and I am genuinely interested in every word they have to say."
He has found the conversations with guests on his podcast incredibly inspiring and motivational and is hopeful that the feeling is contagious to those tuning in. "[Listeners] need to understand how they can make an impact and where they can get advice on how they can help. I hope [the podcast will be] inspiring other people to engage with their communities or causes that they wish to align themselves with and go out and make a difference," he says.
"Donate a few hours of your time, read a book to a sick child, deliver food to the elderly or the homeless. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big impact."