Suncorp's Regional GM Spends Half His Time On Customers' Farms And Gets Invited To Their Weddings

A Queensland farm: Shutterstock

As Suncorp’s regional general manager of central Queensland, Troy Constance doesn’t exactly have average days.

Constance joined Suncorp – Australia’s 5th largest bank – as a Sydney University graduate in 2003 and now leads a team of 150 agribusiness specialists.

Each of his reports manages 30-60 customer accounts. Constance tries to know the largest of those personally, sometimes spending full days with customers on their farms.

He spends Thursdays, Fridays and weekends in Rockhampton, where he lives with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

The rest of his week is split between 23 branches and agribusiness centres across the state, or monthly meetings with his boss in Suncorp’s Brisbane head office.

That’s a lot of travel.

Here’s what Constance told Business Insider Australia about a day in his life:

5:30am I live in Rockhampton, but generally I wake up in a motel in another part of the state.

I wake up without an alarm – I don’t know why – and generally go for a 30-minute run first thing in the morning to try and clear my head.

6:30am I get a lot of work done over breakfast, on my iPhone or laptop.

I’m very much a to-do-list person: I write myself a long list at breakfast and tick things off throughout the day.

I get about 120-130 emails a day and probably action about half of those. The rest, I’m usually included on as an FYI, and I also get a little bit of spam.

7:00am If I’m out at Longreach, for example, which is a 7-hour drive away [from Rockhampton], we generally start pretty early.

I try and see all my sites every three months. 50% of my time is spent with my team and 50% with customers.

When I spend time with my team, I try to get to know them at a personal level – I think that’s really important. I also work on developing people and identifying and addressing any blockages in the business.

I present to the team when we start the day and have morning tea with team members.

9:00am We might go see a client that’s [located] 3-4 hours away. We drive all over western and northern Queensland to meet with our customers.

We serve a diverse range of Queenslanders, from a child opening their first bank account, to someone applying for a home loan, to business owners, bbut the agribusiness customer base is probably 80% of my business.

I generally concentrate on our larger clients, clients who have been with us for long periods of time, or clients who might be starting new enterprises with innovative ideas that might be of interest to head office. I probably visit about 50 customer sites a year.

12:00pm We’ll get to the client’s site at about lunch time and sit down to talk about what’s happening with them in the next few months, and where they see themselves in the next 4-5 years.

That takes half a day to a full day; generally, they’re very keen to see us quite regularly. A lot of the stations are quite large and we’ll be up in helicopters and planes.

Our proposition is very much face-to-face conversations, versus over the phone. [Agribusiness is] quite complex and it’s changing all the time with commodity cycles and weather patterns.

Often, if you’re driving around a paddock, you have a good indication of what’s going on and you can structure the [banking] facility to match any cash flow gaps.

It’s a very intimate relationship; it’s [about] getting to know not just current business owners, but also their sons and daughters who might be taking over the farm. We might get invites to their weddings.

4:00pm We might get out of there by about 4pm after spending 3-4 hours looking around. On the road, we’re constantly on the phone. I have a handsfree car kit and I’m working all the time.

Throughout the day I’d probably have to make phone calls to 5-6 people, and I’d be interacting with and updating stakeholders from head office.

7:00pm We generally get back by about 6-7pm, and I’ll go back to the motel room, put a dinner jacket on, then a client function would start.

We put on events for 70-80 customers, with a meal, drinks and a presentation. Generally, the events coincide with when I’m there.

11:00pm Bedtime. I suppose that’s quite a long day.

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