I grew up near Huntingdon, and attended two of Cambridgeshire’s finest comprehensives, Longsands school in St. Neots and Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon. When I was a kid I used to count everything from floor tiles to train carriages. So, I suppose it came as no surprise that I pursued a career as an Accountant. After my foundation year at Wolverhampton, I worked for Chartered Accountants in Norwich and the West End of London and qualified ACCA in 1988. I learned the hard way how to put sets of accounts together without computers. I also saw a huge variety of SME businesses as well as a good selection of Entertainment industry clients.
In 1991 Europe called and my 16-year journey through Amsterdam, Munich and the United States with General Electric began. I I learned some Dutch, some German and tried my best not to pick up an American accent….I hope I succeeded! In 2006 I returned to London with General Electric where I finished my GE career after 27 years in 2017. In my years with GE I saw many cultures, many different ways of working, and I learned to listen. I worked in Finance and Treasury, and worked across teams of people in remote locations. I had corporate and business roles and worked on Mergers and Acquisitions, Business Integrations, Projects, Banking, Industrial and lots in-between.
So what does someone do after working for what was once the biggest company in the world? Well they go and work with some of the smallest of course. Since 2018 I have been with UK Business Mentoring helping small and medium sized businesses. Some of the tactics may be different, but the principles are the same.
Which Businesses Can I Help?
Well I think I can help any business…except those that don’t want help. All Business Owners have goals whether it be to grow the profits, create a lifestyle or just to get their product or service into the market. In my experience almost all Business Owners work hard, but often they need that helping hand. A mentor can bring the structure, can help freshen up their strategy which can get dulled over time. A mentor can help a Business Owner to refocus. To see businesses, regain their mojo and spread their wings is why I love what I do.
We All Keep Learning
I once had a boss with whom I would sit every week to tell him what was going on in my department and what my plans were. If he ever disagreed with me, he would just raise one eyebrow, and I knew I needed to change tack. We never had a cross word.
Ten O’clock at night I was standing on a railway platform. My phone rang and our CFO was on the phone. I let it go to voicemail. The message was 2minutes of ‘strong verbal’s’ about something that was going wrong. Not my / our fault. Venting at people can make you feel better for a short time, but it does not get the job done.
I was meeting with banks in Turkey, looking for a new partner bank to provide services for us. I went into the wrong door, up some stairs and came a across a room of clerks at desks all facing forward with the manager facing them at a raised desk at the front. It was straight out of the 1950’s. I realised my mistake, went into the next door and into a shiny bright office facility. What you see is not always what you get.
What's My Mantra
Have a plan, and eat the Elephant!! The plan is vital. It is not just about the piece of paper with the steps to follow, but also the thought process to get you to the piece of paper. Most businesses I meet don’t know where to start. They have all the information and experience in their heads, so my role is to ask all the questions, challenge and to try to apply some logic to the order of things.
I never liked the question How do you eat an Elephant? Answer one bite at a time. But I have come to realise that that there is so much truth in it. So often business owners don’t take that first step, because of the size of the journey. Once you have taken that first step, the second is not so big etc. And you are not alone. I help businesses take the steps and mentor them on the journey.
Five Bullets For Business
Do the right thing
Enjoy what you do
Trust your instincts
Business is a team sport
Don’t avoid the hard graft
Five Bullets For Life
Football is important
If it’s funny, laugh
Tomorrow is another day
If you’re honest, your glass is probably ¾ full
Life needs a soundtrack. Keep the music in your head