On the job as an Associate Principal at Port Jackson Partners

Anthony Gray studies Law and Economics at University of Sydney and is now associate principal at Port Jackson Partners
Jaymes Carr
Jaymes Carr
Team GradAustralia
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What's your job title? How long have you worked in your current position?

My current role is ‘Associate Principal’. I have been with Port Jackson Partners for more than eight years, and in my current role for the past two.

What does your job involve?

My role is to oversee client engagement, manage the project team, and ensure we deliver a good outcome for the client.

What is your employer’s goal?

Port Jackson Partners is a management consulting firm that specialises in strategic advice. Essentially, we help our clients work through their most important strategic challenges. We partner with some of Australia’s leading companies and organisations to provide solutions to the core problems they are grappling with.

What do you do on a daily basis?

One of the good things about this job is the variety that comes with it. The specific tasks of each day depend on the individual project, and can vary from facilitating client workshops and presenting key finding, research and analysis, preparing client material, and meetings or interviews.

Have you worked on any projects that you’re particularly proud of?

There are a number of projects that stand out, but the one that I am most proud of was working for a leading Middle East property company in Dubai to develop their ‘neighbourhood malls’ strategy. This was memorable for a number of reasons – from the client side, it was a challenging problem and we had to navigate the competing interests of multiple stakeholders to deliver an answer to the client. Satisfyingly, the client has since put in place our recommendations and delivered significant value to the organisation. From a personal point of view, it was a great learning opportunity and a chance to take on an enhanced leadership role.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?

The problems we deal with are hard, and quite often have no obvious solutions – that is why our clients use us. Being able to identify solutions for our clients and working with them to implement these to their advantages is immensely satisfying.

How is technology changing the practice of law? What are the advantages of embracing technology?

I am in a non-legal role. The biggest technological change we have to deal with is around data – our clients are measuring and capturing exponentially more data. We need to make sure we have the technological capacity to analyse this data in a way that is meaningful and can deliver insights to our clients.

What did you study?

I completed a double degree in Law and Economics at the University of Sydney. I then did a summer clerkship and was a paralegal at a leading Australian law firm, but never practiced law.

What attracted you to that field of study?

I was interested in economics as I felt like that was a good basis for understanding how the world around us works, and wanted to explore it further. I never had a strong interest in black-letter law, but I was attracted to its logical side – for example, the need to reason by analogy, structure arguments well, making a compelling case for a certain position, and so on.

What personal qualities are required for success in your position?

I think this role requires a lot of natural curiosity, tenacity, and the ability to think clearly and logically.

What’s one thing it might surprise people to learn is advantageous in your job? 

I don’t think management consulting is viewed as particularly creative, but a high degree of creativity is required to come up with innovative and original solutions for our clients.

What are the limitations or downsides of your job?

As in a lot of professional services work, the hours and travel can be demanding.

If you could give three pieces of advice to your younger self at university, what would they be?

  • Throw yourself into all that university has to offer and invest your spare time in things you are passionate about. Don’t do things for the sake of padding your resume – there is plenty of time to be serious once you get a job.
  • Expand your field of study – study things that are interesting to you, not just what you think is most relevant to future employment (you learn most of this on the job anyway).
  • Go on exchange (I didn’t do one, and regret missing out).

 Learn more about working in this field, jump to in-house and corporate or the Commercial law overview.