10 Questions: Abu Ali

May 4, 2016

As a qualified chartered accountant, Abu Ali was part of the senior team responsible for launching Evolution LLP’s Newcastle office earlier this year. In his role as corporate finance director, he specialises in advising entrepreneurs on all aspects of business growth and enhancement.

What was your first break in business?

My first involvement in the business world came through my family. They’ve been in the restaurant business in the North East for the past 40 years and I was working in restaurants before I finished school. It was Kevin Thompson at Thompson Kimti accountants in Gateshead who gave me my first experience of working in finance through a work placement.

What did you want to be growing up?

I always wanted to be a pilot and still hope to learn to fly a plane one day. Given my family’s entrepreneurial background, though, I knew early on that I would ultimately become involved in the business world.

What attracted you to your current role?

I believe that the accountancy profession is going to change significantly in the next few years, largely due to technological developments and evolving client requirements, and I am confident that Evolution will be at the forefront of this change. The opportunity to be part of one of the largest advisory businesses in the North East was one I couldn’t turn down.

What is your company’s mission?

We are the entrepreneur’s practice of choice; a dynamic and proactive business that is anchored in the delivery of flawless compliance, smart business acumen and an optimistic, entrepreneurial spirit that creates the desired rocket fuel for success for our clients, and for ourselves.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Evolution is a relatively young business but completely focused on attracting the region’s best to join our already impressive team. We have a strong focus on communication and our entire team know what we are trying to achieve, so we are all pulling in the same direction.

What has been your career highlight?

I’ve had lots of great moments so it is difficult to pick just one. I’ve helped get start-ups off the ground, build international businesses, create new jobs, save existing jobs and allowed entrepreneurs to successfully exit their businesses. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from each of these events, so couldn’t choose just one.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Launching our Newcastle office is a huge challenge; it’s a very competitive marketplace with some long established firms. Evolution has already proven its credentials in the Tees Valley and we’re now on a mission to replicate that in Newcastle, and beyond.

Who or what inspires you?

I’ve been lucky to work alongside some great people in my career, some of whom have been incredibly successful, and they are the people who inspire me. I have a business mentor and his first lesson to me was to surround myself with good people.

What are your company’s short and long-term goals?

We want to be recognised as the leading accountancy practice in the North – a regional power house – with a geographical spread that starts at the Scottish Borders and ends south of Leeds, with my particular focus on Newcastle. At the same time, we want to build recognition across the UK as a practice that is re-writing the rule book and, as importantly, as the place to come to for all aspiring, entrepreneurially minded accountancy practitioners who want to make their mark in the sector.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

As cheesy as it sounds, I really do love what I do so my work and life are very much intertwined. But when I’m not in the office, my family, Newcastle United and attempting to play golf keep me busy.

Evolution LLP


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