I grew up in the north east of England in a seven-generation mining family. I left school in 1979 at 16 and did an engineering apprenticeship, achieving an HNC in welding and fabrication. British Coal had lots of engineers but was struggling to attract accountants, so at 24 I got the chance to move into internal audit and study for the ACCA Qualification.
I had recently married and my wife was pregnant; we had to relocate within two years at a time when the coal industry was in decline. The modular structure of the ACCA Qualification and the ability to study using a mixture of day release and distance learning allowed me to qualify at a time when returning to full-time education was not an option. Without it, I wouldn’t have become an FD at 32.
Working on the shop floor as an engineer before becoming an accountant has given me a rare insight into how the nuts and bolts of businesses work
Working on the shop floor as an engineer before becoming an accountant has given me a rare insight into how the nuts and bolts of businesses work. I have carried this through my career, always keen to understand the commercial and operational challenges of the businesses I have worked in.
I travel extensively in my current role and I think exposure to other cultures and ways of working makes you a more rounded individual. The world is facing significant challenges, whether that’s Covid-19, trade disputes, climate change, or recognition of racial and sexual diversity and discrimination. The UK is also challenged by Brexit. My concern is that this leads to an inward-looking approach to global issues and a loss of our status and influence in the world.
Outside of work, my wife and I have a 24-acre farm and enjoy a range of country pursuits. She breeds horses, we both have dogs and I shoot.