An unlikely combination
That started at school
“In principle, with optimised hooves, pigs can fly.”
– CAT WARREN
At 30 I was an MD in a successful City executive search business. ‘Search’ is cumbersome and labour intensive which limits it to the most senior roles. I reinvented it and started a business based on workflow technology which cut 120 hours out of the traditional 250+. It made ‘proper’ headhunting feasible for mid-management and professional, trebled productivity, and won instant acclaim with multinational oil and engineering services businesses.
And then there’s life
We made a few millions, then lost it all. My partner had a massive heart attack; my wife’s cancer returned. We appointed our sales director as MD, stepped away from the business and lost our biggest client, Shell, and with them the will to carry on. We handed the keys to the liquidator in November 2004, and I buried my wife the following year.
Mid Life Journey
I floated off into the sunset, burning through my savings. During that time, I ‘discovered’ SME’s and their owners – it amazes me what a stranger will tell you over a beer after a long day at sea – stuff they won’t discuss with their other halves!
Reality kicked back in in 2007/8, when I returned to the UK to start another venture. The plan was to build something that would pay a decent income, nothing more. By 2011/12 it was a multi-million pound business too, again achieved through process re-engineering.
Continuing with the SME journey
Post-2010 I re-engaged with a few SME owners, helping to focus them on building up to their exit or retirement strategy. From very little, one’s just sold for £50m, another’s raising £400m for expansion, and has installed a new MD.
The pattern is – I look at challenges, sort them out and the results speak for themselves.
I’m the money side of the business.
I have bought and sold numerous businesses, sometimes involving multinationals and always in the SME world. Start-ups as well as turnarounds. With these investments, I’ve experienced success and disappointing failures. That’s the name of the game and as the experience broadens so the successes multiply.
As an MD and owner of my own businesses, I understand the ups and downs of life “at the top” (it’s a lonely existence, isn’t it), doing my best to balance the demands of a business that’s doubling in size and profitability with over 100 heads, with life at home with a growing family.
A Deloitte trained accountant and starting my commercial career with a blue chip plc, I guess I’m the numbers in the Blueshark team. Others have said of me that I have “a high degree of business acumen.” and that I translate “the financial aspects of running a business to both the strategic and tactical needs of the organisation.”
Mistakes – of course there’ve been a few (I love Queen, so please excuse the reference). I made MD in my 30’s. I tried to be MD and FD at the same time and this caused commercial conflicts. Whilst the business was growing rapidly; expanding in to new territories and growing through mergers and acquisitions, it was hampered by a weighting to the financials and sometimes not the commercials. In some cases, I’ve sold too early whilst in others, I’ve sold too late. Sometimes too, I’ve not trusted my gut feeling and been proved wrong!
There’s success too
The successes, of course, are too many to list here – you’ll have to ask me about those