Richard Errington is chief executive officer at West HQ, the company charged with developing a huge arts/sports/entertainment/accommodation complex at Rooty Hill. The centre's massive new theatre, the Coliseum, is launched this morning at 11am and is set to change the entertainment landscape of the whole of Western Sydney. The initial lineup of performers already locked in includes Keith Urban (December 21), Tina Arena (December 14 and 15) and Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage (December 18 and 19). Richard Errington answered our questions.
What is West HQ? Since being established in 1964 as a community club for returned service men and women, Rooty Hill RSL has given our local community a pulse. The expansion to a licensed venue was a platform for growth. The addition of sports and fitness facilities, accommodation and leisure options saw it evolve further. Today it's a renowned destination for entertainment, fitness, lifestyle and accommodation. It's at the apex of the M4 and M7 catering for an immense radius. Rooty Hill RSL shed light on Western Sydney with initially unique entertainment experiences and now much more. It's been an emblem for culture and tradition and now offers significant facilities for the region. With a shift in focus to lessen the reliance on gaming as our core revenue stream and deliver on our vision for West HQ Limited we've placed a high value on our responsibility to improve our community and strengthen social connections between people and places. This last decade we've achieved development that's brought change and created tremendous opportunities by introducing new diversified businesses that no longer depend overwhelmingly on gaming revenue, such as the purpose-built Sydney Gymnastics & Aquatic Centre in 2013. The recent business name-change to West HQ Limited ensures we're catering for our infrastructure expansion and the vision Rooty Hill RSL had in mind to respond to Western Sydney's needs beyond club facilities. We've integrated a diverse range of businesses which contribute to revenue and extend to the region a lively set of assets revitalising our unique space and fulfilling their interests. West HQ is a backbone of the west. It's an 8-hectare destination for entertainment, fitness, lifestyle and accommodation offering leisure, dining, health and wellbeing, hospitality and business.
As the boss of the whole development, what's been your overriding philosophy and dream for the mammoth project? I'm privileged to be the CEO but must commend the many who've been involved in leading our vision and implementing our plans. The board, now and historically, has made significant contributions to what we're now realising as destination West HQ. I merely represent them, our workforce and our members. We reimagined, reinvented and expanded our core offering to create a destination hub in the heart of Western Sydney, now known as West HQ.
No longer can we afford the indulgence of serving a traditional Anglo Australia. Sydney is a multicultural region. In fact, South-West Sydney is perhaps the most multicultural region in the country. How will West HQ serve this? We've always had this approach as our members represent an amazing cross-cultural snapshot of the globe. We have a diverse array of ethnicities and age groups as members and guests. We listen to them, we cater for their interests, we're now offering extensive dining choices and, of course, accessibility is at the forefront of planning in our new developments and systematically being refurbed in the older parts of the business. West HQ staff are also a fine representation of multicultural Australia and we value them and encourage them to share their insights with us.
Is the Coliseum a giant theatre or a collection of venues? And designed for what sort of productions/performances/presentations? Sydney Coliseum Theatre is a 2000-seat multi-mode proscenium-arch theatre with the latest in lighting and audio technologies, capable of all major presentations of entertainment, arts and corporate events, including musical theatre.
What groundbreaking features might especially impress visiting theatre companies and artists? With its awe-inspiring architecture and sleek curved lines, the stunning multi-mode venue will attract headline acts and major performing arts events from around the world from late this year. With unique fully-retractable seating and variable capacity the Coliseum is capable of easily transforming from theatre to concert, cabaret or banquet modes. The building's stunning exterior combined with its deluxe interior means it can deliver next-level customer experiences and host spectacular performances.
Is the venue set up for producers to live-stream? Yes.
A project of this magnitude takes great personal drive and commitment. When did you come on board? 2006.
How long have you been driving the project? The board, staff and members have been driving a development agenda for many years and this lured me to the role. The chance to lead the team to the development we have today was appealing and I'm honoured to have had the opportunity.
Do you prefer to manage people or things? In this role you manage both. It's not a preference of one over the other, it's a matter of necessity. My style is to be considered and collaborative. Integrity is the grit of how I approach everything. I'm a firm believer that integrity prevails when things get tough or challenging.
What did you do on the Olympic Games? I was the general manager of Stadium Australia and had stepped into that role from the MCG. The charter of the role was to create an environment to deliver a world-class event with facilities and customers at the heart of the vision.
What did you take away from that experience that's with you today? The importance of the collective vision in delivering a major space while successfully catering for customers and business partners alike. A great destination is not just about the physical attributes, it must service the needs of its customers. Also the role of diversification in business planning.
At West HQ, you've had to work with government departments, private enterprise and a huge mix of personalities, each pushing and pulling in their own different directions. What's your personal negotiating style? This is again where integrity has to be at the heart of it. I mean, yes, I'm a tough negotiator, and also fair. I'd like to think anyone who's dealt with me from the cross section of industry and business you mention would say I'm fundamentally a decent bloke who's charged with representing our members and the board and my aim is to do a good job for them and settle negotiations in an ethical manner.
When do you decide to let some things go, in favour of the bigger picture? How long will you push for something before you compromise? Compromise is a necessity across business genres we're involved in. They're highly competitive industries and as such there'll always be a need to consider all options. I'm fortunate though that I have great counsel around me with the board and our executive leadership team. So, yes, I compromise when required but always with the consideration of at what cost and why.
How do you stay focused and not get entangled in minutiea? And can you actually afford not to address the minutiea? I'm proud to say we have an excellent team who all have skills and insight and who make valuable contributions to running the business. We're a preferred place of employment with now over 600+ staff and expanding daily. They deal with the day-to-day matters which I assure you are far from minutiea.
How do you wind down? Exercise, general health and wellbeing, family time and the outdoors are my wind-down choices. Good company and a round of golf are also appealing and where I gravitate when I have time.
At what point will you be able to step back at West HQ, take a breath and know everything is on track and can function in your absence? Ian, you never take your hand off the wheel or lose focus but, yes, there are moments, again because of the board's support and staff, I can take time to reflect and draw breath. Our aim is to build a sustainable and economically sound business which can be taken forth by future leaders and continue to evolve. West HQ already has other major plans in the making like the Pullman Hotel mid next decade. The innovation and consideration of what next for our customers should never stop. We have much to do to remain West Sydney's leading landmark destination.