Meet the TAEFL client who joined the company

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I was Born in Burnley, Lancashire – my father was a miner and my mother a weaver. I have lived in and around southern Greater Manchester from the age of 9. Now, I am married with 2 grown up girls who both live and work in London; an architect and web content manager respectively.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My mother wanted me to be an accountant as she had a good friend who was an accountant working with Rolls Royce and she said that the perks were good! My Careers Advisor told me to go into banking or insurance. Mother won, and I ‘chose’ accountancy!!

Give us a brief outline of your career to date.

As a Trainee Chartered Accountant I was headhunted by a client to troubleshoot companies needing turnaround. Following that, I was soon headhunted again by an ex-audit manager to investigate a large £5 million fraud in a company.

We used the company as a vehicle to take over the Manchester Ship Canal Company and subsequently built the Trafford Centre on its land. This was the biggest property acquisition in British History.

Then I moved on to a long-standing 5th generation Lancashire Textile Company which we converted over 16 years to a successful Healthcare Company manufacturing products such as bedding, plasters and bandages. I was both Financial Director and Divisional Managing Director during that time and when that Group was sold, I took some time to re-assess my next major project and worked temporarily as a consultant – the non-medical variety – in the Health Service.

I soon realised, however, that the SME market was much more interesting (and frustrating) in different ways and I joined Hughes Group, a manufacturing Company, as Financial Director and Business Development Director and helped it grow fourfold before exiting, on its sale to a US based Group.

What was it like to be a client of TAEFL/UK EXIM?

It was re-assuring and hassle free! UK EXIM provided funding which helped by improving and providing cash flow at business critical times. The Banks were either not interested or required over-leveraged equity which wasn’t easily or quickly available and that strategy didn’t make business sense.

Why did you decide to go from being a client to working with us?

I believe in the TAEFL Group’s products and services. As a former client I fully understand them. As a Non-Executive Director and Business Mentor to a number of North West based SMEs I am now well placed to give advice on alternative funding.

What does your role look like now?

Currently, I sit on the boards or advise the executives of a variety of SME companies ranging from architectural signage, digital media & PR to a theatre production company. I look at each business as having a product that needs to be sold to the maximum number of customers at a margin that turns a profit and continually adds value to a business. Simple! At TAEFL/UK EXIM I will be using my contacts to promote their services, as well as provide advice when required to Mark and the management team.

Why are you passionate about helping SMEs in the North?

The North West was the heartbeat of the Industrial Revolution. We split the atom there and we invented Graphene. We are gritty, honest and friendly, and have a city that has become a cosmopolitan centre for businesses that have replaced the traditional industries such as textiles and mining. Our financial and services industries are the largest outside London. Our airport handles 22 million passengers per year, while the Manchester Airport Business Park recently announced an inward investment of £130m by Chinese businesses.

SMEs in the North West are championing exports to the tune of £30 billion a year and growing, one of only 2 areas in the UK showing increases year on year. The opportunities for SMEs are enormous.

What motivates you?

The challenge of good business, seeing people achieve their goals, passing on advice from 35 years of top level executive and financial experience, and enjoying the success that making a good business can bring.

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be and why?

My digital music player (and solar charger!). Music has played an influential part all my life. I cannot play a musical instrument but a bit like author Nick Hornby, [About a Boy, Fever Pitch, High Fidelity], I relate to a song in almost every event that has happened in my life. When I hear a song, I know where I was, who I was with, and whether I laughed or cried. So on a desert island, I would want all my discs with me: eight just wouldn’t do!

I have been going to live music concerts since I was 14. I saw Queen as a support band to Mott the Hoople in 1974, Dire Straits first its ever paying gig, and saw Elton John deputise on keyboards with the Doobie Brothers. Last month I went to see the Stone Roses in Manchester who I last saw in Dubai in a park in the centre of the city.

What advice would you give to SMEs in the North who need funding?

Speak to me, I can save you so much pain and stress!

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