10 Questions: John Healey

July 20, 2019

John Healey is a corporate finance partner at UNW, an independent firm of chartered accountants that delivers a wide range of accountancy and business advisory services to its clients. After training as a chartered accountant in London and spending more than a decade working in M&A and as a finance director, he moved to Newcastle with his family six years ago. John and his team advise on transactions including acquisitions, disposals and growth capital finance raises

What was your first break in business?

I grew up in Lincolnshire and went straight into the world of work after school. My first job was working at Coutts bank, on the Strand. One day, someone I worked with mentioned an opportunity for an accounting scheme for school leavers in a newspaper. I applied and ended up getting the job. After 14 years of working in London, my family and I moved up to Newcastle, where I joined UNW. So, it wasn’t a big break as such, just a small conversation with a colleague that set me on a course I have enjoyed ever since.

What did you want to be growing up?

I can only really remember wanting to be an inventor. One of my early prototypes was a Lego-based device that was meant to chop the heads off boiled eggs. The mass market appeal was such that I settled on being an accountant.

What attracted you to your current role?

Working in corporate finance means there isn’t any day that is the same. I not only get to work with an excellent team, but I also have the opportunity to meet and learn about a wide range of interesting individuals, businesses, and funders. The landscape for M&A and fundraising is constantly changing, and to align these markets with our clients’ requirements is a challenging but fulfilling role.

What is your company/organisation’s mission?

UNW’s aspiration is to be the best at what we do, as judged by our clients and our people. We are committed to not only utilising the broad range of expertise contained within the firm to achieve this, but also to fully understanding the needs of each and every client, as well as using our knowledge to identify areas where they may need further support.

How do you get the best out of your team/staff?

I think what makes UNW unique is that we are entirely committed to investing in our people, and as such we always want to attract and retain the best talent available. We recognise the expertise our people have and strive to support them developing their skillsets to create a culture where everyone feels valued and proud of their work. We’re nurturing a level of talent within the firm that allows clients to gain access to a wide range of both service and technical excellence that our people thrive on being able to deliver.

What has been your career highlight?

I work in M&A, so completing a transaction is always a highlight. The result of a transaction is often very meaningful for the people involved, and since it can be the culmination of a life’s work, it is also very rewarding to have a role in helping a client achieve that. It is quite a privilege and incredibly interesting to be a part of these journeys. I have also been lucky enough to work in London, Australia, and now Newcastle, with some brilliant people, and I have made lifelong friends along the way.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Six years ago, my wife and I decided we wanted to move out of London, away from the South East, to raise our children around family in Newcastle, where she is from. It was a great move for us, but professionally it was a challenge because I didn’t know anyone in the area. To establish myself and build a new network in my profession from a standing start has been a hard but rewarding challenge.

Who or what inspires you?

My wife is a great inspiration to me. She works incredibly hard at her own career and manages to do an amazing job of balancing this, our family life, and keeping everything in order. I would obviously argue that I am a great help with all of this too, but I doubt to the extent that she would answer this question in the same way!

What are UNW’s short and long-term goals?

We want to do what is best for our people and our clients. Our longer-term goals are the commitment the firm has to achieving this; to continue to hire, develop, and retain the best people, and to go above and beyond to provide the best service we can to our clients. Our short-term goals support this – whether it’s recognising an additional need that a client has that can be tended to by our wider-ranging expertise or investing in the right technology to deliver efficient services for our clients.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

I believe people are at their best when they maintain the right work/life balance. At UNW, we try to achieve this by working well as a team, communicating effectively, and fostering the right culture. While I enjoy work and love my family time, I do value a bit of peace and quiet in the middle and have found things like training for the Great North Run to be a great motivator to get out and do some exercise.


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Burning issue: July/August 2019