Rising above with Ian Gillespie

Outgoing RACQ CEO Ian Gillespie joins Your shout to talk about hard work, health problems and his remarkable 13-year legacy at RACQ.

Listen to his story below.


As he prepares to step down, Ian Gillespie looks back over a career full of both hardship and success.

He may have grown up in Cooma, NSW, but Ian has the determination and perseverance of a Queenslander, something he said he learned at a young age.

“I think I learned a lot from my parents in my upbringing. I was also surrounded by a lot of people who had come to Australia just after the war to make a new life for themselves,” Ian said.

“They were people who really wanted to work hard and achieve something for themselves and this had quite a big influence on the way I’ve thought about things.”

Ian brought these values to his own career in industrial relations where he found his passion in the cut and parry of the courtroom, leading him to later become a barrister.   

“That’s how industrial relations were conducted at the time. it was usually a battle that went on between the employer and the unions and I found I really liked it.  I wanted to go to another level,” Ian said.

“So, while I was working full-time and doing that, I also studied law and then eventually qualified and went to the bar.

“It was at quite a young age actually and when I look back it was silly, but I had a burning ambition to do it.  I think, at the time in my life, I saw it as the pinnacle of what I could do. I wanted to challenge myself.”

It wasn’t long after this that Ian experienced health problems, resulting in severely damaged kidneys. He found he could no longer practice law as a barrister, something that affected him deeply.

“I had worked extremely hard and sacrificed an enormous amount to climb that mountain and to get to the summit, only to be pushed off it by something that came completely out of left field,” Ian said.

“It was unexpected. I was 25 years of age and bulletproof, healthy, never had a problem in my life and suddenly that’s happened, and it had all kinds of other impacts.”

But Ian said the silver lining was he and his wife’s first child and a new career that led him to RACQ.

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