Leaders with Ambition - Brad McAvoy

Leaders with Ambition - Brad McAvoy

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Brad McAvoy - Corporate Finance Partner at James Cowper Kreston.

While his trajectory hasn’t always been straight ahead, Brad McAvoy was never taken off course toward his goal to make Partner at an accounting and advisory firm. The head of James Cowper Kreston’s award-winning M&A transaction services team shares his fascinating career journey with Host, Nicky Acuna Ocana on this episode of Leaders With Ambition.

A native Australian, Brad walks us through his early professional development, including transformational stints in Guernsey and Hong Kong (where he started his family and earned an MBA that has paid both professional and personal dividends).

We learn about the corporate culture and post-pandemic workplace landscape at James Cowper Kreston, and how Brad has grown his network in the UK.

This lively conversation underscores the power of taking risks, the value in making mistakes and the importance of seeking – and providing – mentorship for ongoing growth. The episode wraps up with compelling Words of Wisdom and Brad’s forecast for dealmaking over the next year or two. Despite some current bumpiness, there are economic bright spots on the horizon!

If you enjoyed this discussion, please visit this link to find previous episodes of Leaders with Ambition.

Key Takeaways

Starting out

Brad’s upbringing in regional Australia, state school education, early affinity for business and accounting.

Career opportunities

What inspired Brad’s various moves and the professional development he enjoyed while based in Guernsey and Hong Kong (at which point he had his first child and broadened his portfolio by obtaining an MBA).

Key mentoring

How the wisdom of others helped shape Brad’s approach to clients, leadership, communications and strategic style.

Paying it forward

Why mentorship is woven into professional services as a key component of advancing institutional knowledge and career growth.

Reverse mentorship

What it looks like to tap into the fresh ideas and perspectives younger team members bring with them into today’s workplace culture.

Moving on

About a brief career detour that wasn’t a good fit but nonetheless yielded important lessons and reinforced the fact that we should never be afraid to try something new – even if it doesn’t work out.

Leap of faith

About Brad’s hiring at James Cowper Kreston, where today he holds the title of Corporate Finance Partner, and the family's decision to relocate to the UK.

The Importance of Networking

  • Firm-wide hosted events.

  • Roundtable discussions with law firms.

  • Deal-oriented M&A-specific get-togethers.

  • Attending meetings and taking any opportunities to meet bankers, lawyers, even peers.

The impacts of AI

What Brad foresees in terms of efficiency improvements and a chance to minimise the more mundane tasks to free up bandwidth for creative, value-add advisory work with clients.

Hybrid work

The official policy is 50-50 work/home split but Brad’s team in corporate finance tends to come to the office more frequently for social and learning purposes.

The current economic picture

Brad’s take on the last 12-18 months (somewhat bumpy due to interest rates and other variables) and positive signs he sees on the horizon.

Brad’s career highlights

  • The unique cultural experience of living and working in Hong Kong.

  • Becoming a Partner at James Cowper Kreston in 2021 and being part of the firm’s growth journey and entrepreneurial element.

  • Peer recognition including winning Insider Thames Valley Dealmakers awards.

  • Enjoying a robust business base outside of London.

Brad’s career challenges

  • Getting started in overseas roles where he had no established network.

  • Coming back from a career move that wasn’t working out: when and how to regroup. (Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You can always come back!)

Words of Wisdom

  • 'Challenge yourself.'

  • 'Go outside your comfort zone.'

  • 'Don’t be afraid of failure.''

  • 'Know that nothing is forever. Things always change!'

  • 'Keep on learning and investing in yourself.'

  • 'Tap mentors and ask for advice.'

  • 'Don’t hesitate to approach people you admire.'

  • 'Remember to share with clients the positives as well as the downside risks.'

Key quotes​

  • “I would recommend to anyone having mentors on your journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or people’s views on things. Mentors are more than happy and willing to share.”

  • “If you ask for help or advice, people are so open and willing to give it … It’s just having a bit of courage sometimes to ask. And then also to pay it forward!” (Nicky)

  • “The leadership piece is really getting the best out of people and helping them find what they want to do. Not everyone wants to be a Partner … It’s recognizing in others what we can do to assist them in their journeys.” (Nicky)

  •  “Get involved (with networking) at an early stage – going out to client meetings and taking any opportunity to meet banks, lawyers, peers, even within your own firm.”

  •  “It’s always useful to keep and build those networks at an early age because you’ll grow together and you’ll be looking to each other for professional opportunities in the future.”

  •  “Once we see inflation come down to a more sensible level, I think that will give businesses more confidence and make them push the button and come to market if they’ve been holding off on things.” (Brad)

  •  “You realise later (in your career) that your opinion is actually valued. It’s not just technical advice but what you think about things … Giving your view and opinion on things is important.”

  •  “Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to fail because it’s sometimes from the failures that come the even bigger positives.” (Nicky)

About Brad McAvoy

Brad McAvoy is a senior finance and commercial transaction specialist with over 20 years’ experience in both finance and transaction related roles in transaction services and commercial environments in Australia, UK, Guernsey and Hong Kong.

He is currently a Corporate Finance Partner at James Cowper Kreston, focusing on providing financial due diligence and transaction services for clients on the buy-side or sell-side of M&A transactions or clients seeking financing.

His qualifications include: MBA, Grad Dip Applied Finance and Investment, Chartered Accountant, Bachelor of Business. Brad specializes in the areas of merger and acquisition, financial due diligence, vendor due diligence, capital markets, debt markets, fund management and financial analysis.

About Nicky Acuna Ocana

Nicky has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Regional Managing Director of Ambition UK, Europe & US, she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas.

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