Matt Braysher takes the reigns as Chair of Wesley College Council.
Mr Braysher has been an instrumental member of the College Council since 2012. In addition, he has served on the Council Financial Committee for over nine years. There is no doubt, Matt understands and lives Wesley’s values, culture and ethos.
Mr Braysher brings extensive leadership experience and business acumen to the role. Currently, he is Director of Business and Consumer – Financial Markets for one of the major Australian banks.
Head of Wesley College, Mr Ross Barron, sat down with Mr Braysher, to reflect on life, leadership and lessons learned along the way.
What were your early years like?
I was born in Kellerberrin; my mum was a school teacher and my dad managed the Chrysler dealership in town. Because of the drought in the early 1970s, my parents had to move to Perth for work.
I think of my childhood as normal and uneventful. However, I now look back and realise that I was the fortunate beneficiary of two parents who showed me unconditional love.
In reality, there was a significant curveball as I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was eight years old. In retrospect, it probably impacted me more than I realised, but it was even more impactful for my parents. Thankfully, I grew out of it when I was 12 years old. My mum has a deep faith and believes my health is a miracle.
You’re a finance guy, did you enjoy mathematics as a child?
Everyone thinks of me as a finance guy, but I think of myself as a people person that happens to have a technical specialty in finance. I enjoy numbers more than I enjoy letters – I’ll reach for Sudoku instead of Words with Friends anytime!
What was your very first job?
Painting garden gnomes! However, I never got past painting the undercoat. Apparently, my boss didn’t see my painting talent extending to the final coat when it comes to the fine art practice of gnome painting.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you went to university?
No, I started working in a bank two days after my TEE exams. My dad suggested I should get some work experience and then go to university. But when the 1991 recession hit there were very few jobs so I kept working. I completed all my university education part-time while holding down a full-time job. I did it the hard way.
When did you really get interested in finance?
I realised this was the career for me when I landed a job in financial markets. It was fascinating to see how global events had a direct impact on what I was doing that day. And because it was a specialist area, if you did a good job, you really made a difference to customers. I felt like I was adding value – that’s a good feeling.
What are some of your leadership lessons?
It sounds cliché, but anyone can be a leader. And often, you’re displaying leadership characteristics long before you formally have a leadership ‘job’. Another big lesson is that people can in good faith hear the same information and have completely different but logical conclusions about the same subject. In order to understand where the others are coming from requires real listening to other people’s views and understand the different ways others look at life. You have to put yourself in other people’s shoes in order to move ahead together.
As a past parent, why did you choose Wesley for your children?
The thing that convinced us to bring our children to Wesley was the sense that the whole person was going to be looked after. We clearly wanted our children to achieve their personal best, whatever academically that was – but it was more than that. It was about their school life being in support and in harmony with what we were trying to do as parents – that is raising good humans that will have a fulfilling life and contribute to the community that they live in. We hoped it would be good, but only when our boys were at the College did we fully recognised what Wesley had to offer. Wesley delivered all we hoped for and more.
What life advice would you give to high school graduates?
For many graduates it can be a scary unknown looking into the future. I try to encourage them by using this analogy: there is always a river of opportunity flowing past you at any point in time. If an opportunity gets missed, the water keeps flowing—there is always more river. The main thing is to place yourself in that river, and no doubt that can be uncomfortable at times. However, if you look for opportunities and keep your eyes open, they will always come.
What do you want to achieve as Chair of Council?
It’s important to say that while the role of Chair is significant, I am conscious that it is just one of many, many roles, and that we are all working together in service and support of the College and importantly our students and families.
Today, we are enjoying the benefits of those who have come before us and so for us as a Council this is a guiding light. What we hope to achieve is twofold: Firstly, build on the legacy of the past for benefit of our current students and the next generation. Secondly, ensure that our current boys and girls have a real sense of the Wesley Way, such that they can carry that Wesley Difference into their future wherever it might take them.
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