In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky sits down with Paul Davies, Business Restructuring and Insolvency Partner from James Cowper Kreston, who talks us through his unorthodox career path to becoming a Partner and some of his highlights.
Paul shares the challenges he has faced along the way and offers actionable advice to new and potential Insolvency Practitioners. He also talks about the importance of mentorship and how this has helped him to progress his career.
Key Takeaways from this episode with Paul Davies
Paul's career as an Insolvency Practitioner
After completing his A-levels, Paul decided to work for a year rather than start college. He got a job at Barclays bank and was later quite content with his working life so put aside university and continued working full time.
After a few years, he left the job and joined an insolvency company, which marked the beginning of his career in insolvency.
By this point, he already had 4 years of experience and arguably was in a more advantageous position than he would have been had he just graduated.
He then moved to London and joined a team focused on Administrations, where he learned much more, enjoying every moment of it.
The importance of mentorship
Although Paul never had a formal arrangement to be mentored by his boss, he benefited from the learning relationship while working.
Paul encourages those starting out in the profession to try to get mentorship to rapidly aid learning. Also, being available to help people and explaining your decisions to junior staff goes a long way.
The pandemic has restricted the opportunity for this kind of learning and close mentorship at the workplace.
Paul’s insolvency exams
When Paul got back into the insolvency space, after leaving to do banking for a while, his skills moved him into more of an advisory role than the usual formal work.
He then took the Insolvency Board exams which were tough for him, especially since his wife was pregnant at the time, but he was prepared and his experience played a huge factor in giving him an edge.
He passed the exams and later started taking insolvency appointments with a promotion to Director.
There is always the question of "is the grass always greener on the other side?"
Unfortunately, you never know. However, a lot of people stay in a role because they've been there for years. In Paul's view, if an opportunity comes up, it is a good idea to consider it
Becoming a Partner
Paul's goal was to show that he was the turnaround guy, not the insolvency guy. He was offered a role as a partner in “Begbies Traynor” in London although it didn't work out, after which he got the James Cowper Kreston role which was a perfect fit.
The first highlight was passing his exams and also winning the award, Turnaround Professional of the Year. Another highlight was the TMA presidency and getting accepted into the role by the board.
Paul shares that one challenge is the glass ceiling and another is when workload is quiet, but this becomes more natural as you move higher up in the profession.
Networking in insolvency
The role of networking has changed over the years with regards to insolvency practices. The idea of networking is still the same but Paul notes that it is being carried out differently nowadays to suit the preferences of different people and create more diversity in networking.
Networking is so important to do from a young age.
The insolvency market
The market had been quiet because the government has been providing a lot of funding, with numbers and statistics significantly lower than before Covid19.
Paul predicts that the market is going to get busy but the question is when? Formal insolvency may not get busy until next year.
Your balance sheet is very different from your P&L. Also, the sooner the better when it comes to seeking help from an insolvency practitioner - it is frustrating when most people come around too late but many don't understand that the earlier you are the more options you have.
Key quotes from this episode:
"When we're looking at recruiting, it's not all about what grade comes out of university, it's about somebody who is going to be a good fit for the team"
"If a good opportunity comes along then you should look at it and consider it"
"I don't think there's many times I've had opportunities I'd regret and not done it"
About Paul Davies
Paul Davies is a Business Restructuring and Insolvency Partner who has a particular focus on turnaround and restructuring. He is also President and Board Member of the Turnaround Management Association.
Paul has operated in restructuring and insolvency for over 20 years and his role incorporates debt advisory (particularly the alternative finance market), accelerated M&A, Board advisory, business reviews and stakeholder negotiations. Paul has recently worked in a number of sectors including food, hospitality and leisure, real estate, construction and logistics. He was named Turnaround Professional of the Year at the 2017 TRI Awards.
Paul is also a qualified insolvency practitioner and is licensed by the ICAEW in the UK.
About the host:
Nicky Acuna Ocana has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Managing Director of Ambition UK, she currently leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.
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