Described as outgoing and the life of the party by his friends, Nic Willis of Chatswood Stud decided that after completing an advertising degree at university, his true calling was not in an office somewhere but with horses.
Swapping content design for researching pedigrees and matching mares with stallions, it is a decision that Nic does not regret in the slightest.
Presented with the opportunity to accept the role as Sales and Nominations Manager for Chatswood Stud, it was not one he could turn down.
When asked where he saw his career taking him in five years, he states, “I am already doing what I intend on doing for the rest of my life”.
While he enjoyed his role at an advertising agency, it isn’t something that Nic saw as a ‘forever job’. After all, horses are in his blood. His father is Greg Willis, principal of Chatswood Stud.
Raised in Seymour, he spent his youth on the farm he now works at and while at first, he may have taken the country life for granted, as Nic puts it, ‘it isn’t until you get a bit older, that you appreciate it’.
Between work, watching all the races where Chatswood’s stallions have a runner, (in fact, he paused this interview to watch a runner at Pakenham) and catching up with friends, Nic doesn’t get a lot of down time to himself. He does however, try to make weekly trips into the ‘G to watch his beloved Tigers win.
“I enjoy the football and it is something that my Dad and I try to do weekly. I also try to make sure I get to Hong Kong each year. I love travelling and have a very soft spot for the place”.
Nic recognises that the opportunity he has worked so hard for, isn’t one that is readily available to all those in the industry. When asked what advice he would give to someone aspiring to be in the position he is, he stops and reflects for some time, before saying, “Study as much as possible, so you can speak and relate to people. In your spare time, study pedigrees, people really notice if you are approachable and have a positive can-do attitude. It becomes contagious.”
In his mere four years in his role, when asked what his career achievements to date were, he smiles and states he has a few. Firstly, in 2015 and 2017 ensuring that he booked 200 mares into Reward For Effort, Nic carefully studied pedigrees and drew upon mating analysis’ he conducted to get the bookings.
The second career achievement?
Well at first, he states when Reward For Effort had his first Stakes Winner in Golden Symphony but then quickly changes his mind to when Take Pride won at Seymour. Nic was there cheering on from the sidelines as she flew across the finishing post to become Reward For Effort’s first winner.
And finally, parting advice from Nic?
“You never know what someone is going through and there are a lot of tough people in the industry, but you should always be nice to people.”
We think so too Nic.
Hoofnote: What is Grassroots? Grassroots is a new segment of the TBV weekly newsletter, which aims to showcase people in our industry and the stories they have to tell. Each week, we will aim to bring you a new story of someone’s background, experience and passion.