Staff Profile: William Esau

Our Commercial Property ‘go-to’, William Esau, on COVID-19, Fast Bikes & French Love Affairs.   

William Esau is one of the firm’s founding directors, with several long-established and well-known love affairs running concurrently in his life. Motorbikes got him first at the age of 16, starting with a Vespa and graduating to a 900cc Ducati SuperSport by the time he reached university. And in later years his grandchildren have stolen his heart, along with the “marvellous” city in which they live, Paris.

When the COVID-19 response ramped up across Australia, William was doing one of those things he loves, riding a big bike with friends across picturesque countryside. “We were on our way to the Grampians,” recalls William, “really looking forward to a great trip, but the coronavirus response escalated quickly, and the border closed, so we turned back after one night.”  

Like so many millions of families around the world, COVID-19 travel restrictions have effectively separated William and his grandchildren living overseas. “My daughter Annabelle lives in Paris and works as a lawyer, keeping the family tradition going,” smiles William, “She and her husband live in the 7th arrondissement, near the Eiffel Tower, which is a lovely area and the city as a whole is just marvellous. They have just had my second grandchild, so it’s been especially difficult dealing with the fact that I won’t be able to be with them again any time soon. But it’s important to remember that we are very lucky in comparison to many others. We have FaceTime to keep in touch, and thankfully Annabelle is teaching my first grandchild very good English, so they don’t have to deal with my terrible French!”

COVID-19 and working from home

William is the head of our property team, and their workload has risen in some areas due to the legal knock-on effects of COVID-19 restrictions, especially around commercial leasing. “While some commercial activity has slowed down, we’ve been busy with increased activity relating to leasing and COVID-19 rent relief regulations, which have moved very quickly. I’m very pleased to say that in my experience, clients who own commercial properties have been sensible and responsible in their approach to tenancies. They see the long game, and they want to ensure that businesses are kept viable, which is the right way to go.”

And what about the practicalities of working from home (WFH) and other aspects of the business under this ‘new normal’? How have you found it, and do you have any WFH experiences to share? “Again, I’m one of the lucky ones, in that I was already used to working from home, so there were no unpleasant surprises or difficulties for me. On the occasions I have been popping into the office, without the usual day-to-day activity, I’m finding that I’m more efficient getting things done. Plus, being completely honest, I’m really enjoying being able to wear casual attire to the office!”

Natural-born lawyer

When asked what he might be if not a lawyer, or what his alternative pipe dream might be if life-changing luck should come his way, William is one of those rare breeds who says, “I can’t really imagine doing anything else.” As he explains, it’s been that way all his adult life, “I started studying law, and there were some early moments where I felt I ‘got it’, and knew what I wanted to do. There is a tremendous variation in the commercial work I do. Literally, each day is different. I’m honoured with the opportunity to be part of my clients’ commercial team delivering outcomes, and that they trust me to solve problems on their behalf. It’s incredibly satisfying; I’m definitely in my dream role already.”

The post-COVID ‘to-do’ list?

“Well, obviously I am hanging out for international travel to resume so I can see my Paris family and, who knows, maybe find time for some skiing and hiking in the French Alps. However that seems a long way off at the moment, so for the shorter term, I’ve set my sights on the next bike ride. We’re off to a deserted township called Radium Hill, just out of Broken Hill, formerly a thriving uranium mine township back in the 60s, since abandoned. It is remote country. The last time we were there was on trailbikes, riding through ancient creek beds. It’s eerily beautiful.”

We wish William all the fun in the world when he is able to get to Paris again. In the meantime, there is plenty to keep him and his talented property team busy, with some large property transactions underway, and their continued first-class care for our clients on the frontline of COVID-19 rent relief regulations.

For more information, please contact:
William Esau

William Esau
Director
p.  +61 8 8124 1955
e.  Email me

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