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Snapshot of a Second Career: Michael Walter

17 October 2022 | Alumni Profile


Since retiring as a corporate partner from Herbert Smith Freehills in 2015, Michael Walter has completed business and coaching courses in Singapore, France and London, all of which set him up perfectly to become an executive coach mentoring those in leadership roles, or aspiring to leadership.

There are many things he enjoys about his new career as a professional coach: the combination of change management and psychology, the ability to work his own hours (and choose his own clients) and, most of all, the personal relationships that he gets from coaching. It also helps – indeed, has been a godsend during lockdowns – that he can deliver his coaching remotely.

In Singapore, Michael completed an MBA from Singapore Management University; in France, he studied for an EMCCC (Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Change) at the INSEAD Business School; and in London he completed an accreditation course in leadership coaching from the renowned Tavistock Institute.  That is a lot of learning, but Michael relished it. “I learnt a lot from all of these courses. I was often taken well outside my comfort zone, but really enjoyed the intellectual challenge.  I had been interested in psychology pretty much from my school days, and this was a chance really to delve deeply into the subject,” Michael says. “I wanted a broader offering that simply being a lawyer and was aiming to try and create a more general business consultancy. There were logical business reasons as well as personal interests to do all of these courses.”

Having completed his studies, Michael is now well into his new career as an executive coach, forming his own company, M Walter Consulting & Coaching. He offers strategic advice and support to businesses and institutions requiring assistance in corporate strategy, governance, commercial planning or executive development.  

Now that international travel has resumed, Michael and his wife, Joy, intend to pursue their passion for exploring other countries, especially those with iconic wildlife, so Michael can indulge his other passion: photography. Among his many memorable sightings, Michael has seen – and sometimes captured on his camera -  snow leopards in Ladakh (see photo taken by local guide), Komodo dragons in Indonesia, and brown bears in eastern Russia. Michael has long prioritised heading off to far-flung places for his holidays, always with cameras in tow so he can indulge his love of photography. “Quite apart from the end results and the pleasure I get from looking at photos, I enjoy the technical side of photography, getting the settings right, use of lenses, the angles, and so on. In some ways, I look on it as problem-solving, which is a lot of what I enjoyed when working on complex corporate deals,” Michael says.  

Michael looks back on his time with the firm with great fondness. As well as his client work, Michael led the firm’s global corporate division and was then regional managing partner for Southeast Asia for three years. It is hard for Michael to name a favourite deal, but, when pressed, he says leading the team that advised Shanghai-listed Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Technology (JCET) as international counsel on its S$1 billion takeover bid for Singapore-listed STATS ChipPAC, one of the biggest public deals in Singapore in 2015.”

Michael and Joy have built themselves a house in the stunning location of Queenstown, New Zealand, where he is now based, having moved from Singapore over two years ago. They also have a house in France, to bring them closer to their family.  Fewer overseas trips are planned than before although they will be doing a trip to Antarctica in January.

A voracious reader, Michael has several books on the go, but in particular Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, No Rules Rules – Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer, and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. He is also an avid reader of new science fiction although he has nothing on his bedside table at the moment on that front.

Following on from our October 2022 Newsletter, Michael Walter has asked us to make it clear that the snow leopard photo used in our update is one of a number taken on their expedition by their local guide and expedition leader, and not one that he himself took.

Michael can be reached on:
[email protected]