October 2, 2020
What was your first break in business?
My first real taste of accountancy was when I worked in the apprenticeship department at a local council office, fresh from school. My manager at the time saw the position for a trainee accountant at Robson Laidler and told me that it was something I should go for. She unselfishly said the role would help me achieve more than the council could give me – despite her not wanting me to leave.
What did you want to be growing up?
I honestly never had anything in mind. I’m not saying that I never had ambition or plans but my mam always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. I suppose this helped me focus on a multitude of options and develop skills that would help me do anything, rather than focus on one profession.
What attracted you to your current role?
My goal was to become a director by the age of 30. It was ambitious, but why not be bold? Part of the reason for this was the confirmation I was doing the right things and making a difference in people’s lives. The ability to work with business owners to support and advise them on how to build a better business and overcome barriers is extremely rewarding. Making a difference no matter how big or small is still making a difference.
What is your company mission?
Robson Laidler recently invested a lot of time working with change management and organisational culture agency Duo Global on realigning our firm’s mission, vision and values. This was a lengthy exercise, which involved everyone in the business.
The catalyst for doing so was when we acquired Straughans Accountants, in Chester-le-Street, in 2017. We wanted to ensure we brought everyone together to create a ‘one team’ approach.
The results have been amazing, and we now have a core mission statement: ‘To enable individuals and businesses to gain freedom through expert advice at every stage of their journey’.
This feeds into our values and behaviours, which act as a guiding principle to the culture at Robson Laidler – the way we work together as a team and with our clients. We want to create real connections, leave a positive impact, seek greatness every day and encourage curiosity and change.
How do you get the best out of your team/staff?
For me, it is going back to our values about creating real connections. I make sure that my team know that I am there for them not just for work-related issues but for every aspect of their lives. Once you understand your teams’ goals – both career and personal and what motivates and demotivates them – you then start getting the best out of them. Be fair and treat them with the respect you would like to be treated with yourself.
What has been your career highlight?
Winning the North East Accountant of the Year
title at the regional Accountancy Awards in 2019. It was completely unexpected. The fact that I was trusted to make such fundamental changes to the way Robson Laidler operate as a business, and knowing that people believed in me, has been just as rewarding.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Two main challenges resonate with me the most. The first challenge was failing an exam at the start of my career. There is so much pressure to do well and pass everything first time. I thought I was doomed, and it was the end of my career, but I learned from it, tried again and proved to myself I was capable. Failing isn’t the end if you learn from your mistakes.
The second biggest challenge I faced was feeling alone. I know I wasn’t, but others in my team did not quite get what I was trying to achieve, and it was an upward struggle to get to the end goal – that is until my concept was proven to work. Quite often, people don’t like to get involved until there is no risk attached. If you believe in something, do it, don’t stop and keep going.
Who or what inspires you?
It’s not just one single thing or person. There is a magnitude of inspiration everywhere you look, if you look at things in the right perspective. My children, for example, are massive inspirations. They don’t know fear or what the perceived barriers in life are; they keep going as if they’re not there.
What are Robson Laidler’s short and long-term goals?
Long-term, our vision is to leave a legacy by becoming the firm of choice, growing our business in a way that makes us proud, focusing on both purpose and profit.
Short-term, we are launching our business accelerator services, which gives practical business and personal support to companies, owners or managers so they have the freedom and tools to grow their business as well as themselves. This comes in the form of developing action plans, access to our new e-learning platform, coaching and accountability checking and motivational mapping.
How do you achieve a good work/life balance?
I give 100 per cent to everything I do. If it is working, it gets 100 per cent, but when I spend time with my family or anything else, that gets my commitment. The balance comes in the quality of the time spent, not the actual time. How many people look back in life and think ‘was that a good 48 hours I spent there’? It’s more about the memories that are made.