Posted: 08 Mar. 2019

Alumni profile: Phil McCaw

Phil McCaw has been instrumental in the development of many of New Zealand’s best-known tech companies through his work as the founder and Managing Partner of investment firm, Movac. Prior to that, his career started in the offices of Deloitte. We took him back to memories of his first role and beyond…

What was your role at Deloitte and when were you here?

I joined Deloitte in 1989 and I was the first graduate hire into the Consulting division at Deloitte. I stayed there for around 10 years, working principally in the Health sector and also spent two years of that in the US. I was involved in setting out Deloitte's first technology research team, which at that time was based in Minneapolis. After that, I came back to the Wellington office, setting up our software capability. 

Do you have any fond memories of your time at the firm?

I've got lots of fond memories. I always say I've only ever had two employers - Deloitte and myself. I look back on my time at Deloitte as the apprenticeship that gave me the experience to go and do what I do now.

Were you offered any strong pieces of advice at Deloitte that you still use?

When I started at Deloitte in the late ‘80s they put us through a three-day 'school of etiquette’, where amongst other advice, we got taught how to dress properly. I do recall one of the senior figures at the firm fixed my tie for me!

Tell us a little about Movac and why you started it.

When I left Deloitte, myself and a few others started a systems integration and consulting practice. We had a clear focus to use consulting as an enabler for us to invest in technology. Once we won a few consulting jobs, we started to put our profits into early-stage technology investments.

One of those investments was TradeMe, which went on to become a runaway success. When that was sold on, we went on to create Movac in around 2005 - an early stage technology investment business in New Zealand.

From your experience, what do you think is the sign of a successful technology business?

I think the most critical thing that's consistent in a lot of people's companies is making sure that you have a fabulous team, which includes a very strong founder and someone who can build that team. The best idea in the world without the right team will fail, and the best team in the world without the right idea will fail, so you need those two things working in combination to absolutely make it work.

What does a regular day in your role look like?

I'm very active in a number of ventures so I probably change subjects from company to company about three or four times a day. Most of the time I'm probably working on ensuring the companies are adequately funded, so making sure they're prepped and ready for their next round of funding. Often in the midst in all of that, we can be doing a bit of firefighting, supporting companies where things aren't going to plan and making sure they've got all the right mitigation actions in place.

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I like to hang out at our beach house at Raumati, do a bit of paddleboarding and fishing and drag my kids around, who are growing up far too fast. In winter, you also might find me umpiring on the side of a netball court, which I’ve been doing for about 10 or 11 years.

Sounds fun! Have you ever made any controversial calls?

I'm a brilliant umpire, you can quote me on that! The beauty of netball is that the game flows so quickly that as long as you're decisive, the game just keeps going. The critical thing is to be decisive!

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Jen Scouler

Jen Scouler

Senior Digital Content Advisor

Jen Scouler is a Senior Digital Content Advisor at Deloitte, working across the firm's digital communications and social media.