Martin Barber is managing partner at North East-based Evolution LLP, which recently announced it had been acquired
What do you like about working in the North East?
Good old fashioned Northern values are generally to the fore. Honesty, sweat and excellence are some of the values that define the region and working with local businesses makes you feel proud to be part of it. Take a close look at local business and you find real talent in abundance with top quality service and technical excellence. I have been asked to judge various business awards and it has also been a real privilege to visit world class businesses we have here.
What has contributed to your success?
Without exception the people. We have a fantastic team from the most junior to the most senior of employees. They are bright, enthusiastic hardworking and passionate. These are all skills that you need to work for a dynamic firm like Evolution. We have significantly increased our workforce with excellent talent and the appointment of an HR manager has been critical to obtaining the right talent. As a small accountant we took brave decisions to empower our team and among other jobs created posts for HR and marketing managers. Sara Hall and Emily Bentley who were promoted from within were inspired choices. In addition, we have created our pathway programme providing a clear route for the team to progress through the firm. Allied to our competency framework based paperless appraisal system this means that every team member knows what is expected of them in order to succeed in the organisation.
Where is your favourite place in the North East?
Saltburn beach on a clear Sunday morning playing ball with my Labrador, Ben. There is nowhere better in the whole world and I speak as someone who is well travelled.
What is your work ethos?
I firmly believe in teamwork and getting the best out of every member is the best way to achieve success. The collective will is much stronger than that of individuals. To do that you need strong leadership skills and to communicate effectively. I have learnt a lot about that in my time at Evolution and, as my performance has improved, so has the teams. The aim is to set the bar ever higher and not worry about the competition. If we are delivering excellence then the clients will be happy and remain loyal.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
Stubbornness, impatience, Guinness and chocolate biscuits.
What do you do to relax?
Walk the dog – he knows all about every problem we have ever had at work! I also play very bad golf and watch my local rugby team at Middlesbrough.
What do you think the region’s prospects are in the Northern Powerhouse?
I’m sorry to say that I am pessimistic about our prospects. As far as I can tell there is an awful lot of hot air and not much in the way of hard evidence that anything will change for the North East and the Tees Valley. I read with interest the Heseltine Report on the region and while it is easy to ‘diss’ that report as short on fact at least the politicians are talking about us. At the end of the day ,the North East will do what it has always done irrespective of political easy speak and that is dust itself off, and get on with doing what it does best , working hard , taking opportunities and building new business.