Role: International business/finance consultant, mentor
1. What is your everyday purpose and passion?
My ‘day job’ is as a business and finance consultant working with early stage businesses from start up to mid-sized corporates, and I am also a Mentor at Cass Business School and the UKs largest Entrepreneur Accelerator. So whether I am doing this in a corporate capacity or doing it pro bono as a Mentor I guess you can say that it is my passion also. I just love working with people that have fantastic ideas and know what they want, but they just need a bit of help understanding the complexities and turning their dreams into reality.
2. On a regular day, what can you be found doing?
I do travel quite a lot internationally and have worked in about 45 countries but on a typical day I am normally having initial meetings with new contacts or meeting with existing ones and working through specific projects with them. I focus on finance and strategy, so it is these areas that take most of my time. But into that mix I often speak at seminars or events, and I also write a lot of published articles for various magazines. All of this means that my typical day will see me still working away with my laptop in the evening, either writing articles or catching up with emails and follow up to meetings.
3. Out of everything you’ve achieved so far, what is the thing you feel most proud of?
I am not sure if proud is the right term to use for it, but I have been very lucky and feel very privileged to have done many of the things that I have done. Some examples include: going down Europe’s largest zinc mine in Ireland and down into a geothermal power station in Lithuania; standing on the bridge of a huge container ship watching as it loads all the containers; experiencing -48c in Siberia one winter; being interviewed on television in five countries; getting stuck in the snow at the end of a runway in Ukraine in a light aircraft; and so many more.About 5 years ago I decided to do an MSc in Global Management and chose to do my dissertation on helping micro and SMEs obtain access to funding but with a focus on less well developed economies. This opened the doors to all things fintech and ultimately led me to my two positions as being a Mentor and I guess that being a Mentor is what really makes me feel good – giving something back and helping others and it is that that I am proud of.
4. What are the top three pieces of advice you’ve ever been given?
The number one is to ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ as this covers almost every aspect of life and if we all try to stick to this then we shouldn’t go too far wrong. The second is that you only live once so you shouldn’t be afraid to grab life before it is too late – I have found that most people regret not doing something rather than having done something even if it did not work out so well. Thirdly, be prepared to take risks, although I should put a caveat on that by saying that they should be calculated risks and not just wild risks. Without some risk life can be very bland and we pass up many opportunities.
5. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
For me this is easy – being able to travel in time! I think that I am very good at time management and multitasking (even though I am a man!) and also in meeting deadlines, but whatever I do I never seem to have quite enough time. So being able to manipulate time and create more of it or slow it down would be great. But I am also not a patient person so sometimes it would be good to speed time up just to see the outcome of something or not seem to be constantly waiting to get important responses.
6. Thinking about all of the people you are inspired by, could you tell us about one?
I guess that the key is in the question, in that I am inspired in many ways by many different people, from great figures in history to those that I meet on a weekly basis. But there is a quote that I always find inspiring in the tough times - as let’s face it we all have times when not all is going as we had hoped – and that quote is from Winston Churchill who, on becoming Prime Minister just after the Second World War broke out, said “if you’re going through hell, keep going”.
7. Within your current working environment/company, what is your favourite thing about it?
I love being my own boss and making my own decisions, and of course backing my own judgement. I now cannot imagine working within the tight structure of a large corporate. The positive and energetic vibe of working with founders and those with the vision and strength to set up by themselves is infectious as the energy flows both ways. They get my knowledge and experience but also they can see my enthusiasm for what I do, and I get to see many great ideas and fantastic people and never cease to be impressed by peoples intelligence and creativity.
8. Thus far, what has been your biggest challenge/failure?
I guess that my biggest challenges and failures are normally linked to where I set myself high targets and then fail to achieve them for whatever reason. It may be that what was achieved was perfectly acceptable but if it failed to meet my own high expectations then I feel that I have failed, however good the outcome might actually be.
9. With the future in mind, where would you like to be/see yourself in the next two years and five years?
Haha! This is normally a question that I ask early stage businesses as it is important to understand that ‘success’ can look very different to different people. As for me, I would like to be on the Advisory Board for a number of truly successful businesses that are not only successful in the commercial sense but they are also having a very positive impact on all the many things that need to be re-evaluated such as diversity, sustainability, environment and all those other areas that are so important for the future. What would make me really proud is to feel that I have added real value to the founders and the businesses and having that warm feeling of knowing I have helped them achieve what they have. In addition, I really enjoy speaking at international conferences and events and writing about the startup space so I would love to be doing more of both!
10. What is your favourite characteristic of yourself?
I guess that in my mind there are two character traits that I have that stick out. The first is that I always try to be optimistic and have a ‘can do’ attitude and will always try to find a solution to any problem, even if that solution has to be an unusual one. The second is that I have always been known to be tenacious – some might call it stubborn! – and if I believe in something and really want to make it happen then I tend to do all that I can to not let it escape. Sometimes though I guess it would be best to know when to give in. Between them they have helped me achieve what I have.
11. Considering the journey you’ve been on until now, what skills have been key to this?
I have always prided myself on my open mind and being very hungry to learn and experience new things, and this has opened many doors and made me not afraid to jump into new things and seize new opportunities. I am one of those that has an extremely wide comfort zone but am still happy to go outside it. But probably one of my biggest skills has been networking and developing a good network of people that I genuinely want to help and I believe that 2+2 will normally =5 as by putting the right people together then all will achieve more collectively than they ever will alone.
12. Can you tell us one of your goals for the next year?
I guess that this comes back to all the earlier questions as I would love to learn more and to help many more interesting people to achieve their dreams, and to join a few more Advisory Boards as part of this process. I am the type of person that is happy to do all that I can to help once I get involved. But perhaps most of all I enjoy very much what I do so my goal must be to develop even more what I am doing and so become even happier!
in British English