Life at Deloitte
Director, Financial Advisory M&A Lead Advisory
I studied Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. Having completed my degree I spent a year as an elected sabbatical officer working as Athletic Union Chair at Bristol.I was particularly keen to develop a career in the business of sport however I quickly realised that a Biology degree, my experience as Athletic Union Chair and a lot of enthusiasm wasn’t going to land me the job of my dreams in that area. I decided that I needed a robust recognised business qualification and from there I started to look into opportunities where I could both work and gain a further qualification, such as the ACA.
One differentiator for me in applying to Deloitte was the high profile work that the Sports Business Group is involved in. After joining Deloitte I was able to get involved in some of the work in this field through, for example, authoring sections of the Annual Review of Football finance. My career since joining Deloitte has been richly varied as I have worked in three offices (Bristol, Manchester and London), three different departments (Audit, Transaction Services and Financial Advisory Lead Advisory) and completed two client secondments.
What work do you get involved in on a day to day basis?
Since 2008 I have been working within the Special Situations team in Financial Advisory Lead Advisory where I provide advice to companies and their stakeholders in positions of stress, distress or financial challenge. I get involved in situations where a sale of the company, business or a division could provide the solution to both securing a sustainable future for an element of the business and deliver maximum recoveries to key stakeholders.
What do you like most about the office and region that you work in?
Having trained in Bristol and worked in Manchester previously, I’ve had good experience of working in both the regional office environment and London.
Now that I work in London, I enjoy the scale and profile of the work and the clients which gain national coverage from time to time. I recall one particular day at the height of the financial crisis when three of the engagements that our team was working on were on the front few pages of the Financial Times.
There is a sense of scale of Deloitte in London which gives us access to a great range of expertise and niche skills which can be called on to help address the most obscure and specific needs of our clients.
Why your industry?
I work in Financial Advisory Lead Advisory – advising on acquisitions and disposals. I specifically work with companies experiencing some form of financial challenge or stress. As a result my work always has a very visible and tangible impact on the real world and on real people’s lives.
What is your top tip for working in your industry?
Always be prepared for the unexpected and be totally prepared to embrace a new strategy or approach when the situation changes, despite the investment that may have been made in the original approach. To help with that always try to be thinking two or three steps ahead.
What differentiates your industry from other industries?
M&A generally is extremely fast paced and dynamic. I think the differentiator for the work our team does is that in every engagement a new set of challenges arises which will need tailored solutions – there is rarely a standard approach that can be rolled out, rather we need to innovate every time to deliver the optimal solution.
Which personality traits or skills aid success in your industry?
The ability to influence people from a range of backgrounds and with different views, and to steer them towards a common solution when they may each bring different drivers and motivations.
In our line of work it is important to behave in a manner which brings order and calm to what are usually fraught and stressful situations for the people involved.
What do you enjoy most about your industry?
Although this nature of work has the potential to be pressured at times, when we get it right and save a business, securing jobs in a sustainable way for the future it can be extremely rewarding and satisfying.
Talk us through the most exciting project that you have worked on
It was probably the work we did on trying to sell Woolworths. I clearly recall the night that Woolworths entered Administration. I was just leaving the office for the evening but was called back to join a briefing by the Administrators to all of the teams across the country that were going to be involved in the engagement. It seemed as though there were hundreds of Deloitte staff on that call.
The brief for our team was very clear – to sell as much of the business as quickly as possible.
As expected, the next day the phones began ringing non-stop. There was a real buzz throughout the deal team and the wider Administrator’s team and many of the decisions taken were played out in the national press. We were regularly re-cutting and re-shaping the potential business proposition of the underlying retail operations trying to develop a plan for a sustainable business to save as much as possible.
What social, society and corporate responsibility activities have you been involved with at Deloitte?
I’ve taken part in various community away days and run the JPMorgan corporate challenge a few times. I also took part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain cycling from John O’Groats to Lands’ End raising money for the British Paralympic Association.
I’ve also provided professional advice on a pro bono basis to participants in our Social Innovation Pioneers programme who have been experiencing financial challenges.
Finally, I’m a trustee of the Eikon charity which provides long-term support to vulnerable young people. While my work with Eikon takes place outside my professional Deloitte life, I have received considerable support from colleagues and partners who recognise the need for us to make a direct contribution to wider society.
How has Deloitte played a role in your long term career goals?
Deloitte has played a significant role in helping me to realise my long term career goals.
This began right at the start of my career with putting the initial building blocks in place through being supported through my ACA training. Securing the professional qualification was a key objective for me as it opens up a wealth of opportunities.
Since then, as my career has progressed, working at Deloitte has increasingly given me opportunities to work with the management and senior executive teams of some really significant companies and businesses which is exactly where I want to be operating.
What advice would you share to others considering a career in your industry?
Try to grab hold of every opportunity that comes your way as all experiences will be helpful in the future. Within that though, do be prepared for a very steep learning curve initially, as the demands and experiences are unlikely to be similar to those you have experienced previously.