with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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In this episode of The Inner Chief podcast, I speak to world-renowned hotel developer, Rory Hunter

Rory has led multiple organisations and the development of award-winning properties across Australia and South-East Asia, including the Song Saa Private Island, which was named one of the top 10 Luxury Hotel Developments of the last decade globally.

His latest venture is MODEL – a new, Australian build-to-rent group that is committed to creating meaningful impact for future generations.

Rory previously founded SoHo Partners, and in 2013, he established the Song Saa Foundation, an independent NGO dedicated to preserving Cambodia's marine environment. A highlight of the foundation includes creating the country's first ever Marine National Park in partnership with Monaco's Prince Albert.

Rory has won numerous awards, including National Geographic’s Leader in Sustainable Tourism, and is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and a Global Board Member of the Young Presidents’ Organization Sports and Outdoors Network.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How he harnessed the entrepreneurial spirit he possessed from a young age
  • Buying an island in his twenties and building an acclaimed resort on it
  • Build-to-rent development that considers the planet, local environment and the locals instead of profit, and
  • Finding forgiveness, love, acceptance and inner peace by sailing solo across the ocean on his way home to Australia.

Thanks to former guest, Daniel Penny, for introducing me to Rory.

Connecting with Rory Hunter

You can connect with Rory via LinkedIn and the MODEL website.

Books and resources

Tomorrow’s too late (white paper) – by Rory Hunter


I love the Churchill quote, “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. What matters is the courage to go on.”


Key takeaways from the episode

  • Understanding the local culture and stakeholders is crucial when operating in complex multicultural environments.
  • Embracing change and seeing it as a rhythm can lead to personal growth and resilience.
  • Building a business with a focus on stakeholder alignment and long-term impact can drive positive change.
  • The built form, specifically build-to-rent, can address the climate crisis, housing crisis, and mental health crisis in Australia. Support or learn more about the white paper by visiting the model.com.au website.
  • Build-to-Rent has significant growth potential and aims to become a multi-billion dollar platform.
  • Capital is needed to scale a business idea, and having an executive team with a great chairman, a strong service offering, and a steady CFO is crucial.
  • Hiring based on attitude and culture fit is more important than technical skills.

Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders 

  • Finding balance in life, including emotional, psychological, physical, nutritional, and sleep aspects, is essential for sustainable success.

Stay epic,