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T he magaz ine for EY alumni partners connect PARTNER ALUMNI 2017 L essons in l ead ership The first woman to run a Big F our global business unit reflects on her career at EY

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T he magaz ine for EY alumni partners

connectPA RT N ER A LU MN I2017

L essons in l ead ershipThe first woman to run a Big F our global business unit reflects on her career at EY

2 0 1 7 2 I P artner Al umni C onnect

20 C l if f B aty How Cliff’s experience helped land his dream job at Man U

24 C arrie Tucker Carrie talks about her CFO roles at two exciting companies

26 J ean- B enoit B erty Our TMT lead talks about trends in tech and innovation

30 S arah L evy On being a trailblazer for women at Kingfisher

33 C hristina L arkinHow EY is innovating at a new base in trendy Shoreditch

34 M ichael L ynch- B el l Why Michael stays in touch with the alumni network

In this issue2 0 1 7






EY | Assurance | Tax | Transactions | Ad visory

Ab out EYEY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

Ernst & Young L L PThe UK firm Ernst & Young LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC300001 and is a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

Ernst & Young LLP, 1 More London Place, London SE1 2AF.

© 2017 Ernst & Young LLP. Published in the UK. All rights reserved.

ED 07/18.

This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice.

No EY organization can accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. On any specific matter, reference should be made to the appropriate advisor.

In line with EY’s commitment to minimise its impact on the environment, this magazine has been printed on paper with a high recycled content.

Partner Alumni Connect is produced on behalf of EY by w ard


r im



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4 I n b rief Davos; awards; alumni survey

6 S teve V arl ey Get the latest updates from our Chairman and Managing Partner

8 O mar Al i Find out what’s new from the UK Financial Services team

10 P ip M cC rostie Learn how Pip rose to the rank of Global Vice Chair for TAS

14 Antony S myth Advice on how to plan for a fulfilling retirement, and more

18 Amand a C l ack Amanda tells us how she balances her EY role with her presidency of RICS

36 W il l iam P ow l ett S mith On life after retirement and his love of playing the bagpipes

37 S tep hanie K ingManaging people in a rapidly changing global environment

38 J an G regory On getting the post-EY balance right

41 S onia S w inney After leaving EY two years ago, Sonia rejoins us in Australia

44 Events Pictures from some of our alumni events in FY17

46 M ark G regory Is the ‘disrupt or be disrupted’ mantra true for all?

W el come

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The past year saw us make some radical changes around recruitment, and the launch of our hugely exciting EYX team. To learn more from Steve Varley, Chairman and UK&I Managing Partner, on the positive impact we’ve already seen from these projects, turn to page 6.

But throughout this success, we’re still proud to keep strong connections with our alumni network. Last year we launched Alumni Connect online ( umni) for all our people, past and present.

We were particularly proud of the results of our Voice of Alumni Survey 2016, which showed that 93% of you feel proud to be an EY alumnus and 85% would refer a friend or colleague to the firm. Perhaps most notably, more than two thirds would recommend EY’s services to their current business contacts — up 45% from the previous survey in 2014. There are still things we can improve and over the next year we’ll be working to address your needs even more, by developing more industry specific events and informing you about business opportunities with the firm.

The fact that we have such strong connections with our former colleagues is fantastic, and means that even when

you leave the firm, we know it isn’t really ‘goodbye’. This is especially true in the case of Sonia Swinney, a ‘boomerang’ who is returning to EY after two years heading up Financial Control and Risk Management at John Lewis. See page 41 for more.

Those on the way to retirement should turn to page 14, where Antony Smyth tells us about his cross-continental career and how EY can help you plan for the future. Meanwhile, we speak to Manchester United’s CFO Cliff Baty on page 20 about how his EY experience shaped his career.

And remember, by joining our EY Alumni Arts Club, you will receive private view invitations and complimentary tickets to some amazing exhibitions during the year. Go to the alumni portal to register: umni

Thank you for your continued support of the alumni network and valued insights. We hope you enjoy this issue.

M ichel D riessen U K Al umni P rogramme P artner S p onsor

Welcome to the 11th edition of this magazine, which comes after another year of market leading growth for the firm.

M ichel D riessen UK Alumni Programme Partner Sponsor

O mar Al i Managing Partner, Financial Services, UK

S teve V arl ey Chairman and UK&I Managing Partner

“We’re proud to keep strong connections with our network.”

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In brief

Chairman and UK&I Managing Partner Steve Varley, and Global Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger, were among the attendees of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos from 17-20 January 2017.

The Forum’s theme was ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’, addressing the frustrations of those left behind by globalisation in a way that’s fair, practical and sustainable.

The meeting grappled with the issue of how leaders from all fields can help create

more inclusive growth. One discussion revolved around the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ — a moniker for the huge scale, scope and complexity of current technological change. Delegates debated how it can forge growth but not ‘employment anxiety’.

And, far from replacing humans, it can augment what we do and create opportunities for us all.

Among business leaders, the mood was positive — albeit with the expectation that uncertainty will linger over the next few months.

Davos debates responsible leadership

S tonew al l I nd ex 2 0 1 7Stonewall Star PerformerEY is one of eight employers to have repeatedly demonstrated commitment to creating inclusive workplaces by ranking in the top 10 of the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list at least three times in the last five years, so has graduated to Star Performer status.

S cottish B usiness Aw ard s 2 0 1 6 Winner, Investor in Scotland AwardThis award recognises those companies headquartered outside Scotland that make a large contribution to the Scottish economy and help make Scotland a great place to do business.

The Sunday Times Top 3 0 B est B ig C omp anies 2 0 1 7EY was ranked 17th in the list, based on the anonymous opinions of employees. EY also received a one star accreditation and a special award — ‘Giving Something Back’ — recognising the firm’s creative approach to supporting charities and the local community.

M C A aw ard s 2 0 1 7Best Customer Engagement ProjectEY Advisory won this award for its work with the Knowledge and Networking division of publishing and events company Informa. EY helped the division to deliver new digital products and services to accelerate its growth.

Awards and accoladesWe’re proud to have won lots of prestigious industry awards for our work over the past year. Here are some highlights:

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Every two years we survey our alumni to measure our progress against their expectations of the programme. Thank you to everyone who participated in the Voice of Alumni Survey 2016. The feedback we received via the survey is invaluable to us in understanding what works well and how the programme can be developed.

There’ s a l ot to b e p roud ofMany of you told us that you still have a strong connection with the firm, that it’s a great network and that it is a valuable way to maintain relationships. More than half of you also said you were open to returning to EY one day and over 80% said you would refer a friend or colleague to EY.

Here is a summary of the results:

Voice of Alumni Survey: the results are in

8 5 %

would actively refer a friend or colleague to EY

8 9 % have a strong emotional connection with EY


6 3 % say that the network currently helps them professionally

7 6 %say it’s a great network,

which they enjoy

9 3 % p roudfeel...

to tel l p eop l e they are an EY al umnus/al umna

6 9 %w oul d recommend EY as a service provider to their current company or business contact

Up 4 5 % from 2014

5 2 % 7 8 % 5 5 %

would consider returning to EY

like to receive EY thought leadership and insights

never hear from EY for business purposes

Attract I nf orm C onnectOpportunity areas for us to focus on in order to b uil d a b etter w orking w orl d with our al umni community

I nsid e insight

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investing in new real estate. I was particularly excited about the launch of our new Manchester office at Two St Peter’s Square in May this year.

Aud it q ual ityAnother highlight was the results of the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) latest annual audit quality inspection report. They reflect the significant level of investment EY has made in audit quality, particularly over the last three years, and demonstrate our continued progress. Over 90% of our FTSE 350 audits inspected this year were assessed as requiring no more than little improvements, which means we have met the FRC’s target for 2019. None of our audits were noted as requiring significant improvements. Feedback on the audits that were new appointments for us was also positive.

What’s made the difference? We have established a long-term and wide-reaching audit quality programme in the UK, which supports the steps we have taken globally, and continue to invest in new technology, data analytics software and training for our people. These investments are already being well received in the market.

Talking of technology, in May last year, Financial Times journalist Harriet Agnew tweeted: “The accountants are coming to Shoreditch. Peak hipster alert.” She was referring to one of the most exciting developments in the firm, the launch of EYX, a cross-service-line advanced technology innovation initiative based in the heart of London’s trendy hipster community. The location is significant; EYX isn’t just an investment in advanced technology, it’s also about exploring what we can learn from a different culture.

EYX has people seconded to it from the different service lines from all over the country, helping us to take advantage of advanced technology. This isn’t about the future, though; it’s about today. As

Firm updateIn 2016, EY recorded another strong year of growth. Revenues were up 7%. This builds on our 5-year compound annual growth of 8%, which has added £685m to our top line to get us to £2.15b. There are many things to be proud of, but one of the real highlights has been the impact of the changes we made to the way we recruit apprentices and graduates.

We took a bold decision to remove the academic entry criteria from our student recruitment process in the UK and now also operate a blind CV policy to reduce any unconscious bias in selection. As a result, we’ve gained access to a much greater pool of skills

and a more diverse range of talent. We’ve also had 38,000 applications for about 1,000 roles, which is a new all-time high.

And the talent we have recruited aren’t just going to roles in London. We’re currently recruiting more than 550 graduates in our regional offices, which means that over 50% of our student roles are now outside London. The EY Foundation’s Smart Futures programme — a 10-month scheme that provides Year 12 students (16/17-year-olds) from low income backgrounds with access to paid work experience — has expanded out to 12 regional offices. We’re also expanding our physical presence in the regions by

Steve Varley, UK Chairman, explains why investment in people and technology is at the heart of the firm’s continued success.

Words: Tim TurnerPhotography: Ashleigh Bushnell

“ I continue to believe that EY and our purpose is appropriately progressive.”

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a result of EYX, we’re already deploying artificial intelligence and “bots” in client service. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else comes out of our Shoreditch enclave.

The w orl d stageOf course, 2016 was a momentous year for many reasons, particularly the UK’s vote to leave the EU. And with the recent UK election result we are finding clients are coming to us more and more for advice on how Brexit will affect their businesses. As part of our response to this, we have set up the International Trade, Economics and Policy unit (ITEP). We want to help our clients navigate as the UK turns its attention to being a global trading powerhouse, and we’ve built technology that will help them make decisions based on global trade, customs tariffs and so on. It’s proving to be very popular!

We also continue to have a good relationship with the Government and multiple connections with important ministries, including the Department for Exiting the EU, the Department for International Trade, the Treasury and HMRC.

In January, for the first time, I attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. It was a fantastic experience, if a little exhausting! EY has a very

strong representation in Davos, and there were so many clients there that I managed to fill my diary with meetings over breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner cocktails, dinner and then post-dinner cocktails for four straight days.

However, while I was there, I also managed to find time for some running, despite temperatures of -18oC and several 5am starts. This is part of my triathlon training as last year I was lucky enough to race for Great Britain in my age group in the Triathlon World Championships in Mexico City. I’m determined to compete again this year and am hoping that braving the snowy conditions will have been worth it and not, as my family said, just have given me a cold.

But back to Davos: one of the big discussion topics was how business can build greater trust with society, and create more inclusive growth. I continue to believe that EY and our purpose of Building a Better Working World is appropriately progressive; people from many organisations started their conversation with me at WEF by trying to explore how we’d created our purpose and how we’re using it to drive better business results.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of how we continue to thrive in a volatile world.

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In my piece for the last issue of Partner Alumni Connect, I said that this was going to be a really exciting time to be leading our Financial Services (FS) business. I admit, I hadn’t expected it to be quite so exciting at a geopolitical level.

Against this backdrop, we had an incredible last year in UK Financial Services (UKFS). We grew our revenue by a record 13%. Whilst I’m genuinely proud of what UKFS has achieved in terms of growth, I am more proud about what we have been doing to achieve that growth.

As Steve mentions, we have been investing in assurance across the business and in FS this has resulted in a great year of wins, including Schroders, which re-establishes us at the top of the global Wealth and Asset Management audit market. Importantly, we

Focusing on thefutureOmar Ali, our UK Financial Services Leader, reports on a year of record growth and on how EY is helping to ensure the UK continues to be the leading global financial services hub.

continue to invest in our Audit Quality programme, which resulted in some really positive Audit Quality Review scores from our regulator, the Financial Reporting Council.

We are investing in specific market segments, including Capital Markets and Life & Pensions, and scaling our market-leading Managed Services offerings while growing our businesses in our regional offices in Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. Watch this space for further announcements about new UKFS offices.

We continue to innovate too, building out our robotics, data and analytics, cyber, FinTech, blockchain and machine learning capabilities for clients, and also investing in how we deliver our existing services.

We now have 4,500 people focused on FS in the UK, making EY the largest dedicated FS practice of the Big Four. And we have changed how we are finding people to join the business. Steve mentions the changes to graduate and school leaver recruitment; we’ve seen this make a big difference already after one year. In UKFS we also successfully piloted returnships through EYReconnect — a programme for those who have been out of the workplace for more than two years, which gets them back into professional services in suitably senior roles.

A return to grow thThe past year will be remembered for lots of surprises, but I think it should also be remembered for the return to growth across bank lending in the UK, the rise in US interest rates, and many other indicators that marked the end of the lost decade of growth after the crisis.

This year, the outlook is less certain. The economic forecast is for growth to continue, just slower than we had all hoped. Whilst the political change we’ve seen recently in the UK and across the world is changing the priorities of many of our clients, I’m still confident about what we at EY, and what the wider UK financial services industry, can achieve.

Our growth last year was driven by the work we’re doing to help the industry deal with the level of change it is facing — technological change, regulation, tax policy and sector convergence, plus navigating the changes to the assurance market.

This year again, we are on track for near double digit growth. The pace of change hasn’t slowed. However, Brexit and wider global political changes have added a new dimension to the strategic decisions that boards and teams are making across all of these challenging areas.

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MINUTES WITH…Brian Marshall

Tel l us ab out your rol e at EY.I am a Partner within the Operational Transaction Services practice, which is part of Transaction Advisory Services. Together with Ian Haywood, I lead our activities in Consumer Products. We advise and assist our clients through the full life cycle of acquisitions and divestments, focusing on operational and IT elements of these events.

W hat are the b ig chal l enges f acing your cl ients?Globalisation, disruptive technologies and the pace of innovation and change are making deals in consumer products more complicated. Many deals, both large and small, fail to deliver the expected value. This is often due to integration or separation strategies that are not properly aligned to the original deal objectives and business case.

H ow are you hel p ing cl ients to overcome these chal l enges?Clients need to be more

explicit about the type of deal they envision and clearly communicate this between the ‘deal makers’ and those who must successfully execute the strategy. To help our clients with this, we refer to three broad types of deal: Incubate, Innovate and Accumulate, and describe how the execution approaches need to be different for each. We also provide a framework to help clients better understand the different operating model choices they may need to make in meeting the objectives of the different deal types.

W hat are your p red ictions f or the f uture of transactions?It’s likely that M&A deals of all sizes will come under greater scrutiny by governments and the media. Companies will need to articulate a more sophisticated rationale for their deals and show credible and visible plans for how broader goals can be met, delivering value to consumers and employees, as well as investors.

“ I’m proud of the work our Brexit teams are doing.”

Financial services as an industry is no stranger to disruption. This is slightly different though. Change driven by technological advancement and regulatory reform has not always been easy to deal with, but the direction of travel has been clear. We are all now operating in a relatively uncharted landscape. The drivers of change have multiplied and many are less familiar. The consequences of the election of President Trump, the EU referendum result in the UK, the outcome of elections across Europe and the potential referendum in Scotland are much harder to call.

O ur current f ocusWhat does that mean for us in UKFS? Our focus is now to make sure we are in the best position to help our clients navigate this period of change, and to make sure the financial services industry in the UK is well supported to continue to be the leading global financial services hub.

I’m incredibly proud of the work our Brexit teams are doing to support the industry. Our clients need us to react quickly with strong insight and act with integrity in advising them about the future of their businesses and that is what I am seeing our teams do.

But it’s not all about Brexit. The things we were talking about a year ago that would help the UK to cement its position as the leading global hub for financial services still stand.

Stability in the tax and regulatory regime and investment in technological change remain key. We’re working with HM Treasury to track the UK’s global position in FinTech, and we’ve been working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the Chinese and UK FinTech markets. These reports are good gauges of the UK’s global standing, but what they really show is how fast things can change and that we all need to focus on the UK’s future as a global financial services hub now more than ever.

I see the value of how global the industry is every day, at clients, at our regulators, in the people I work with here at EY and what you as alumni go on to do.

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Great expectationsAs Pip McCrostie embarks on an exciting career as a non-executive director, our former Global Vice Chair of Transaction Advisory Services reflects on her career at EY.

Words: Eila MaddenPhotography: Karl Attard

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“ When I came in at 29, I was really green. I certainly didn’t have aspirations to lead a global business.”

Sitting in her first board meeting as a non-executive director (NED) at Inmarsat, the global mobile satellite firm, Pip McCrostie couldn’t help feeling a bit nervous. She had little experience in tech or telcos. She remembers: “They were talking Ka bands, Ku bands, LEOs — Low Earth Orbits — and I was thinking: Really? Have you chosen correctly? Have they chosen correctly?”

It turns out that they had. “I got some really nice feedback from them after the first meeting.”

That’s because, while Pip may not have had the sector knowledge, her command of the strategic issues the firm was facing allowed her to quickly add value. Now, she’s loving the stimulation of learning about the nuts and bolts of Inmarsat’s technology, which has helped in the likes of the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which disappeared mid-flight in March 2014.

Pip‘s experience is a useful one for any alumni doubting the value they can add in the roles that they move on to. “The skills I learnt at EY are just so transferable,” she says. “I can’t think of any part of life where professional services skills wouldn’t be useful.”

An EY ‘lifer’, Pip retired in July 2016 after 29 years with the firm. She intended to take some time out before starting a part-time career as a NED, but the opportunity to join Inmarsat came unexpectedly early. “It was quite a surprising choice [for me],” she says. “It was not in my plan of sectors I was looking to be in, but I chose it because the sector’s so interesting and there’s so much to learn, and the people are terrific and we just hit it off. So I’m delighted to have been invited onto the Board.”

It’s a role that has kept her busy for her first seven months of retirement from a hugely successful career at EY.

F rom green to greatWhen Pip joined the firm in 1987, little did she know that her time at EY would culminate with a seat on the Global Board and a high-profile role as Global Vice Chair of Transaction Advisory Services (TAS).

“When I came in at 29, I was really green. I literally couldn’t find my way back to my desk, so I certainly didn’t have aspirations to be on the Global

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this business. If I can get people around me and we can get momentum and trust going, we can really do something.”

M anaging and l ead ingPip had been client facing for 15 years, so taking on a role in management and leadership, which she had little experience in, was “dramatically different”. But the skills that you learn from running large, medium and small accounts translate well into running a business, she says. Those skills include building solutions using a market-first, rather than an inward approach; building a great team of people around you; and using a large dose of common sense.

Pip’s approach to client handling focused on two key elements. First, know your content well and second, build strong client relationships through understanding clients’ behaviour and

Board or lead a global business,” she says. “But EY has got this amazing culture. It allows you to develop at your own pace; it’s got people that you can talk to; there’s so much variety there that if you start to get interested in things, you can move into that field.”

Pip embraced the firm’s development culture, working across two service lines (Tax and Corporate Finance) in two countries (the UK and New Zealand) in various roles.

It was in 2008 that the firm approached her about taking on TAS. The business was making heavy losses after falling victim to the M&A downturn, triggered by the global financial crisis. Could she turn its fortunes around? At the time, she was in a client-handling role in the UK, which she loved, and she knew that TAS was failing — so the push and pull factors weren’t that strong. “But,” she says, “I kept thinking: I know what to do with

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reading a room, using that knowledge to drive account activity.

To explain what she means, Pip recounts an anecdote. She flew out to a meeting in the US with a client who was unhappy and not overtly friendly. The atmosphere was tense. “I managed to empty the room of people — I suggested that they go and get a cup of coffee — because I thought we could probably have a dialogue one-on-one and I might find out what was causing the tension,” she says.

This approach encouraged the client to open up to Pip, sharing her concerns about the deal she was

working on with EY and talking about the pressure she was under. Having identified the problem, Pip helped the client to map out a plan of action that focused on managing internal relationships and getting buy-in for the deal. The client contacted her a month later to say how valuable that one-to-one session had proved to be.

“Observing how someone is feeling and how they’re reacting to things, and getting a bit of one-on-one time with them — the relationship side of things — is immensely important,” says Pip.

Alongside putting her client-handling skills to great effect, Pip brought a clear turnaround strategy to TAS and set out to win the hearts and minds of her 11,000-strong team where she could. “I gave the team a lot of clarity about why we were doing the things we were doing, consulted very hard, then made a decision,” she says. “I didn’t need 100% unanimity. We went ahead and did things and we put quite a lot of humour into it too – because it got you through some tough moments. I think we really made a difference in eight or nine years and, yes, I’m very proud of that now.”

“ We really made a difference and, yes, I’m very proud of that.”

The nex t ad ventureAs Pip embarks on a career as a non-executive director, she is keen to work with likeminded, broadminded people who, as a group, are rich in skills and are encouraged to share their views; something that she has already experienced at Inmarsat and in her second non-executive directorship as the Chair of the audit committee at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, a Washington DC-based macroeconomic think tank.

She does, however, want to take her time over building her portfolio of NEDs. She says: “Being on a Board is a huge amount of work — a lot more than I had actually realised — so I’m holding off for my next directorship so that I can get my feet under the table at Inmarsat, really learn my job and be selective about what to do next.”

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expect. “I made tin cans in a factory for a while, before becoming a photographer’s assistant,” he explains. “Then I trained as a tailor under a Savile Row journeyman and spent several years making bespoke men’s clothing.

“It was creative work, but I didn’t find it rewarding. Once you’ve made and sold a pair of trousers, the customer just disappears and you move on. Eventually, I knew I needed a change.”

G iving a good accountAntony was 22 when he started studying at his local sixth form college, before gaining a place to read Accounting and Law at the University of Auckland. And his enterprising spirit shone through even while

Antony Smyth is a well-known name to EYers, both at home and abroad; but what’s most surprising about this global systems auditing guru is his lack of pretention. “Success is a strange thing,” he says. “I often think of the character in the TV show Dallas, Jock Ewing. When asked about his success, he used to say he’d worked hard, and he may be cleverer than some; but above all, he’d just been lucky.”

But after five minutes of talking to Antony, it’s clear his success has been down to far more. He retired from his client work and role as the Financial Services Advisory CFO and COO in June 2016, after a long career that took a series of twists and turns. A native New Zealander, he left school at 15 and found himself with a series of jobs you might not

A man of the worldAntony Smyth has crossed industries as well as continents throughout his varied career, and says embracing opportunities early is the key to a fulfilling retirement.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: Michael Clement

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many more obstacles, which makes this much harder.”After two years, Antony left CIBC. In that time he

was also an Adjunct Professor for the MBA course at the University of Toronto, before taking a post in EY’s Toronto office in 1996. “EY had a reputation for being the strongest Canadian professional services firm intellectually, as well as being an excellent sales organisation,” he remembers. “So when I found a role with the Information Systems Assurance & Advice practice, I was thrilled.”

Around the w orl dAntony’s move to the UK in 1999 was actually driven by his wife, an HR director for American Express. “She’d already moved across continents for my career, so she said it was her turn!” he laughs. Still focused on IT risk consulting in London, Antony also ran the related operations in the north of England for several years, travelling between offices in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull and Newcastle.

Working in this field of auditing meant that Antony had a few tricky periods. A two-year secondment with Lloyds TSB in 2007, for example, coincided with its money laundering investigation, which meant he had his work cut out analysing the bank’s operations.

But he started to really make his mark at EY in 2008 when, after nine months of supporting the Paris office audit business, he helped to set up the UK Risk and Compliance practice. This grew rapidly, at one point hiring 12 recruits each month, until eventually, the team was 500-strong. And Antony’s experience of dealing with anti-money laundering (AML) stood him in more than good stead to help grow EY’s AML and sanctions business from 11 full-time equivalents to over 300 engaged staff. “This business area is fascinating, exciting, important to society — and can be dangerous,” he enthuses. “And that’s EY! Those are the kind of opportunities you get at a place like this, and that’s a part of why people here succeed.”A new ventureAfter such an exciting career, you’d think retirement would come reluctantly, but in Antony’s case the decision was quite simple. His final three years at EY saw him help develop the Future Directions Workshop, to improve opportunities for partners after EY. “The workshop’s reputation at the time wasn’t great,” he says. “But we needed to turn the retirement process into something that would really

at university, where he ran his own window cleaning business that employed four other students.

His commercial sense may well be innate; his grandfathers were successful businessmen, one running a sewing machine manufacturer in New Zealand, the other from the founding family of the largest drug maker in the UK, which later became GlaxoSmithKline. “There’s probably entrepreneurial blood in me,” he says.

After graduating in 1984, Antony found a job at Touche Ross, now Deloitte, as a financial statement auditor. Once again, it wasn’t long until he’d found a way to flourish. “I was interested in computers,

which were becoming more important to auditors,” he remembers, “so before I knew it I became the ‘go-to’ guy for computer-related matters, and after three years with the firm I was running the new IT consulting service.”

C anad a cal l ingFive years into his career at Deloitte came Antony’s first hop across the ocean. “New Zealand is a very entrepreneurial country but it’s also quite insular,” he explains. “To progress, I needed more global experience. Because Deloitte is a multinational firm, I was able to find a role in their Toronto office, and my family and I decided to make the move.”

The following five years saw Antony work on several large accounts, including a secondment at Sun Life. In the meantime, he was also invited to become President of the local System Audit and Control Association, where he played a key role in writing global guidance on systems auditing.

It was this high-profile work that led to his first industry job offer as a Director at CIBC, but he soon realised that this role wasn’t for him. “Corporate life didn’t suit me,” he admits. “What I enjoyed about professional services was that people were encouraged to take charge of things and make changes. Elsewhere, you find yourself stuck behind

“ In professional services, people are encouraged to make changes.”

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help both the partners’ new lives, and the firm’s influence in society.”

Antony’s best advice for retirement is careful planning. “If you know at 47 or 53 what you want to do in retirement, EY can help you get there. That becomes much harder when you’re 58. Whether it’s non-executive director roles you’re after, or charity work, EY can help you make the connections you need. But it takes time to make the right contacts and gain the needed experience — so that’s what we

now try to do.”For Antony, this meant getting involved with

educational initiatives. “Schooling is about life chances,” he says. “I didn’t have a great time at school myself, and I know that the opportunities you’re given when you’re young are so important. If you change a kid’s life, you can change the world.”

So, he started running a reading programme at a school sponsored by the City of London, based at the historic Guildhall, which is the background in these pictures. From there, he became Chair of the London South East Maths Hub, which works with 600 schools to help them teach mathematics more effectively. Antony is also Deputy Chair of Governors for the City of London Academy, and Audit Committee Chair for its new Galleywall school. On the commercial side, he has been considering board roles that use his cyber security, compliance and accounting experience.

K eep ing connectionsAside from this though, having gone straight into work at the age of 15, Antony is looking forward to more time for things he loves. “I’ve always sailed, so I’ll be doing that as much as possible — and since working as a photographer’s assistant in New Zealand, I’ve returned to camerawork,” he says.

“I’ll also be staying in touch with the alumni network, which is a fantastic resource. One thing I learnt in Toronto is that business isn’t just about pitching and delivery; it’s about empathy, trust and exchange. It’s that people-facing side of business that I find most interesting.” And it’s those connections that Antony will keep in his ongoing professional life.

“ Business isn’t just about delivery; it’s about empathy and exchange.”

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“I got to know the clerk of works for the project, who used to take me out on a Saturday and show me what they’d been doing during the week,” she remembers. “That certainly helped to sow the seed of how being involved in a megaproject can have a huge impact on people’s lives.”

S trong f ound ationsAlthough she was encouraged by her school to pursue a university education, Amanda opted to study Quantity Surveying as a day-release degree, balancing her studies with a job at surveying firm BDB. “This was quite an unusual route at the time,” she reflects, “and in fact, it was very much like the apprenticeship schemes you see today. I think it helped my career progress faster than if I’d studied for a degree full time and qualified afterwards.”

After qualifying as a chartered surveyor, Amanda was headhunted by niche consultancy practice Hornagold & Hills as its 13th employee. She helped the workforce to grow to more than 200, later being made partner at just 29. After 14 years there, Amanda spent nine years at PwC, before joining EY as Head of Infrastructure in August 2015.

EY’s Infrastructure practice is expected to grow rapidly. Sitting within EY’s Government & Public

It’s fair to say that Amanda Clack has chosen less-travelled roads in her career. After 30 years in the construction sector, she’s now joined EY to take the reins of its burgeoning Infrastructure practice for Advisory, and dovetails these duties with her prestigious global role as the President for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

“Right now, it’s actually a great time to be entering the profession,” she says. “In the UK, for the first time in 200 years, we have a proliferation of infrastructure megaprojects in the pipeline that will have a long-term impact on our country. Plus, globally there is a £57tn infrastructure gap to fill through to 2030. And by 2050 it’s estimated that 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities, so our work on making cities resilient is crucial.”

For Amanda, this signals a need to promote opportunities in the sector — which means changing people’s perceptions of it to attract a more diverse workforce. “Construction isn’t just about buildings,” she says. “It’s about having a positive impact on communities and changing lives.”

Amanda attributes her interest in construction to Lego and the Hornby train set she owned as a child, as well as growing up in Brentwood, Essex, around the time the M25 was being built 30 years ago.

Breaking the mouldEY’s Head of Infrastructure (Advisory) UK&I, Amanda Clack, tells us about balancing her EY commitments with her presidency at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and her plans to build diversity in the sector.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: The Factory

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Amanda is the 135th RICS President in its 149-year history and will see the organisation through to its 150th anniversary. She is only the second woman to become President. When she became a member nearly 25 years ago, Amanda says, only 6% of its membership was female. Today this has risen to just 13%. “We’re definitely working to improve this further,” she says. “Around a quarter of our members who are students and trainees are now female. RICS is also supporting key initiatives such as the Women of the Future awards and RICS’ Young Surveyor of the Year Awards, which recognises outstanding young talent in the profession. I think it’s so important for us to talk about diversity and inclusivity openly.”

In fact, this issue has formed the basis of a big piece of collaborative work between RICS and EY: “It’s not just about gender. It’s also crucial we work to attract people from all backgrounds, ethnicities and so on. EY and RICS co-published a report in June 2016 entitled Building inclusivity:

Sector practice, the Advisory team touches upon industries such as transport, energy, assets and cities, to cover all aspects of infrastructure.

“We look at everything from sustainability to resilience, and think about how to use technology and innovation to make improvements,” Amanda explains. “EY is proud to be a global platform partner for the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative, which means we’re making concerted efforts to influence and support cities on their growth agendas to make them more resilient.”

This work runs in parallel with Amanda’s role at RICS, which takes up around half her time. “I have three themes for my presidency,” she says. “The first is infrastructure, because of the huge focus on infrastructure spending globally; the second is cities, because of the population shift towards city living and development we’re expecting; and the third is the war for talent, looking at skills as well as diversity and inclusion — of course this is also something in which EY is really leading the way.”

laying the foundations for the future, which was a really exciting piece of work. This report provides the sector’s first set of data on diversity, to give us a baseline to work from. RICS captured data from those firms participating from across UK&I as part of the Inclusive Employer Quality Mark (IEQM), and the report was written by the EY National Equality Standard team.”

The report will feed into RICS’ work around talent acquisition, which, through the #RICSFutures work, surfaced as a primary concern for employers. “We’ve seen a shortfall of skills in the construction sector in recent years,” Amanda explains. “And the Brexit vote will certainly impact upon the makeup of our workforce in this sector in the future.

“But I’m working with lots of other groups to address these issues. Recently, I was invited to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment as part of a Commission of Inquiry into Brexit and skills, and I also chair the Brexit Infrastructure Group for Skills.”

This mix of responsibilities means Amanda certainly has her hands full. “Lots of people tend to take on presidencies as their swansong on the way to retirement,” she says, “but I think it is important that presidents come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, experiences and ages as the lead ambassador for the profession globally. I feel that taking this role on at this point in my career allows me to be more relevant to the people I meet.”

B al ancing actEven with her hectic schedule, Amanda still manages to maintain an exciting life outside work. “I’ve designed and built two houses in France, between Cognac and Bordeaux. This was during my garden leave before I joined EY — I go to France as often as I can, and invite friends and family along too. It’s where I can properly relax and unwind.”

And Amanda’s not just adept at all things construction; in her spare time, she sails, skis, enjoys photography — and she’s even a classically trained pianist. “What I enjoy most, though, is spending time with friends and family,” she says. “It’s so important to have quality downtime. You need to give yourself permission for that side of your life too.”

EY has played a vital part in Amanda being able to manage her time so well: “It’s such a privilege to be elected as President of RICS, but I’m very grateful that EY is allowing me the headspace to do it justice,” she says. “There’s no way I could achieve all this without their support.”

“It’s crucial that we work to attract people from all backgrounds.”

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but I’ll hopefully be able to strengthen this and support the rapid growth of the club.”

B uil d ing his skil l setAnd with Cliff’s strong background, he’s been able to hit the ground running. He attributes this in part to his EY experience, which actually marked his first foray into finance. “I joined the Audit practice in 1993, straight after graduating in chemistry from Oxford University, and didn’t really know what I was getting into,” he smiles, “but it offered such fantastic training and I enjoyed learning how businesses made money.”

There’s no doubt that Cliff enjoyed a varied 11 years at EY. His legacy will be felt in the London Oil & Gas centre, where he spent most of his time working on the BP account. This also took him on secondments to Chicago, Los Angeles and Düsseldorf to deal with a series of mergers and acquisitions — all while still in his 20s. “I was lucky to have the consistency of one major client, but that client gave me a variety of opportunities,” he comments. “I never really knew what I was going to be doing each year, and that was a huge attraction for me.”

A missed op p ortunityCliff quickly built up an in-depth knowledge of the oil and gas industry, but it’s his sojourns in other sectors that really stand out. One of his EY highlights was working with Sting’s tour company,

A whole new ball gameThough now settled into his job as CFO for Manchester United FC, Cliff Baty tells us he is still pinching himself. “I think it takes a month just to get used to walking into the football club every day,” he laughs. “My office overlooks the entrance of Old Trafford stadium, so I’m right among the action and can see the constant streams of people who visit us daily. It’s not a normal business environment.”

Certainly, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the buzz of the place. Our trip to the stadium to meet Cliff is accompanied by a relentless rainstorm, but this has not deterred a resilient horde of tourists, all eager for a glimpse of the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ where so many of their sporting heroes have made history. The atmosphere is electric, in spite of this miniature monsoon — and it’s not even a match day.

Of course, a ‘dream job’ like this comes with a fair amount of pressure. Cliff’s appointment at the club came in the wake of several high-profile deals, including a record-breaking £75m a year sponsorship deal with Adidas. In 2016 Manchester United even overtook Real Madrid as the world’s richest football club; so it sounds like Cliff will have his hands full.

“We’re a huge business, with revenues of more than £500m a year, but until now we haven’t had a dedicated CFO role,” he tells me. “Part of the reason I was brought in was to drive the commercial side of the business, and make sure financial implications are considered at every stage. That’s not to say these things weren’t considered before,

Before Cli� Baty joined Manchester United FC as CFO, he was cutting his teeth in EY’s Audit practice and rubbing shoulders with legendary musician Sting.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: Tim Ainsworth

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“ EY o­ered fantastic training and I enjoyed learning how businesses made money.”

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Roxanne Music Tours, in the summer of 1996. “I took a small role as a tour accountant, which was tremendous fun,” he says. “I was still in my mid-20s and was very excited to meet him in person. He’s a very nice, very polite man.”

Evidently, Cliff also managed to make an impression; after a few months, he was offered a full-time job as Sting’s personal accountant — a role that, amazingly, Cliff turned down. “I just thought, ‘Nah, he’ll never amount to much!’” he laughs, “which was probably a mistake, in retrospect. But at least it gave me something to talk about in future job interviews.”

Taking controlA few years later, though, Cliff was ready for a change of scene. As part of his partnership training at EY, he was sent on an 18-month secondment to industry conglomerate Novar plc to shadow their Finance Director. “For the first time, I was actually making decisions rather than simply observing things and making suggestions,” he says. “With all the training, experience and skills that EY had given

me, I really felt like I could make a difference there. That gave me a huge adrenaline buzz.”

So in 2004, when a vacancy for a Group Financial Controller came up at Hilton Group plc, later Ladbrokes Plc, Cliff jumped at it. Here, he was pleased to find a role that combined his vocational expertise with his personal interests. “Sport’s always been a part of my life,” he says. “I play football and golf, and got into horse racing at university too. So while I was at Ladbrokes, I had the business knowledge from my time at EY; I knew about betting; and I had a huge interest in sport — all of which meant I could start influencing the business’s strategy.”

Cliff took on several senior roles within Ladbrokes across its eGaming and global businesses, later joining the Board of Directors at Sportech, the leading pool betting operator. From what Cliff says, working in the betting industry is not for the faint-hearted. “Naturally, the business’s performance was directly linked to the outcomes of matches and races. The mood fluctuated on a daily basis because of that.

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“ Seeing the impact we have around the world is incredibly humbling.”

“But that in itself is an attraction. I’m quite a competitive person, and I do feel you perform better when you’re interested and engaged in the field you’re working in.”

G oal - orientedAfter immersing himself in the world of sport, Cliff was hugely excited to join Manchester United in March 2016. “As a football fan, why wouldn’t you join?” he says. “We’re a huge organisation, and the football club comes first — making sure we’re successful out on the pitch. That side of the business has a very close, family feel. But beyond that, the professional challenges attracted me — driving the commercial side, and helping that to grow.”

Around the time that he joined, the club announced three high-profile deals for new players, including Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as recruiting manager José Mourinho. An immediate priority for Cliff was finalising their contracts. “That definitely kept me

busy, and it was very exciting,” he enthuses. “The players don’t realise the number of hours it takes to draw up these multi-million pound deals; but when great things happen, like Ibrahimovic scoring his first hat-trick here, I know it’s all worth it!”

Cliff also has plans to use his strong digital experience to grow the club’s online presence. But it will also be important to keep supporting the local community in Manchester; not only is it by far the largest business in Trafford, employing more than 5,000 local people, it also supports important youth initiatives through its charity, Manchester United Foundation.

“We have relationships with 17 local schools, and permanently employ coaches to run football training sessions with them,” says Cliff. “That’s something the club is really proud of. There are big differentials in Manchester around quality of life, so the club needs to support the local community when it can.”

G reener p asturesOn a personal level, perhaps the biggest project for Cliff and his wife was their immediate move to Manchester, after living in London for more than 20 years. “That was a big thing for us,” he admits, “but we were both excited. My wife is a big football fan herself, so that really helped. She’s been to a few matches here, and totally shares my enthusiasm about what goes on in the club.”

But when we ask whether Cliff is a Manchester United fan himself, there is a short pause. “Well, I am now,” he replies, playfully, before admitting that he was actually a Newcastle United season ticket holder.

“But you can’t spend so much of your time involved with a club like this and not come to love it, so I’m very much a Man U fan now. Just seeing the impact of the club on millions of people around the world is incredibly humbling; it’s made me very proud to join and be a part of it.”

S ometimes you shoul d stick to the d ay j ob ...Cliff may be a keen football fan, but it’s probably best that he sticks to the back office. He recalls his first company football match at Sportech, which took place at Preston’s Deepdale Stadium. “A few minutes in, I got the ball and turned with it – and my Achilles tendon just went ‘pop’,” he winces. “I was carried off on a stretcher to the Preston Royal Infirmary and had to spend the night on crutches in the home of my new boss – which was a bit embarrassing.” That’s certainly one way to make an impression!

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Tel l us ab out your EY career.I joined EY in 2004 as a graduate, and took part in a rotational scheme so I could experience working for a range of departments such as Corporate Restructuring, Mergers, Acquisitions — and I then specialised in Transaction Support. I was at EY for four years in total, and have really fond memories of my time there; everyone was driven by common values and had a similar outlook, and that helped me form some of my closest friendships.

H ow d id you come to j oin Ex p l oration C ap ital ?I was grateful for the opportunities I had at EY and loyal to the company, so I didn’t really want to leave! But I was headhunted to join investment managers Exploration Capital, where I am now their Chief Financial Officer, and it really seemed like my dream job, so I went for it. Exploration Capital is a single family office with a global portfolio of diversified assets, so it presented a whole host of opportunities — but it was still a really difficult decision, because I knew how much EY had to offer.

W hat d oes G il o I nd ustries f ocus on?Gilo Industries, where I am also CFO, is a UK-based business that specialises in pioneering engineering technology. We’re passionate about pushing the boundaries of innovation to improve things in the aviation space, whether that’s making aviation more accessible or affordable, or making the technology more intuitive. Our founder, Gilo Cardozo, is incredibly enthusiastic and creative — one of my key jobs is to help focus his energy and make sure what we do is commercially viable, as well as innovative. You don’t want to suffocate Gilo, but it’s all a question of balance.

H ow imp ortant is G il o I nd ustries’ social p urp ose?Our commercial and social purposes go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, we’re creating machines that can aid the military and improve businesses; but also machines that can help humanitarian causes, in war zones or crisis zones for example. Of course, getting our commercial strategy right is key to helping our social purpose, and everyone here is

A flying successEY alumna Carrie Tucker talks about her current roles at Exploration Capital and exciting aerospace innovators Gilo Industries Group, and why more women should consider roles in engineering sectors.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: John Wildgoose

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focused on making this happen. The questions I always ask myself are: how can I improve? And, just as importantly: how can I help others improve? If we all keep improving then we will eventually have a better world.

H ow d oes your EY netw ork hel p you tod ay?I love being able to leverage contacts around the globe for industry advice and help. This has been invaluable for my work at Exploration Capital; for example, Exploration Capital invests in and manages sustainable forestry plantations in Bolivia, where I really needed some tax advice. Tom Groom, one of my EY graduate peer group, is now a Partner at EY and he connected me with a tax expert on the ground in Bolivia, with whom I now have a fantastic working relationship.

Tel l us ab out your mentoring w ork.I’ve taken on a number of female mentees across Gilo Industries, Exploration Capital and ICAS, and enjoy taking time to understand what they want to achieve and how to get them there. I think women suffer from a lack of confidence more than men do. If you can inspire women through coaching, I think they’ll be more likely to put themselves forward for pay rises, promotions and better opportunities.

H ow can w e d rive more w omen into typ ical l y ‘ mal e- d ominated ’ sectors?Having spent my career working for industries like mining, forestry and engineering, there are several instances where I’ve been the only woman in the room! And this kind of inequality starts when we’re young — which is why I think schools and universities need to do even more to encourage women to consider scientific fields, right from the get-go. We have a female engineer starting at Gilo, for example, and we’ll be leveraging her university connections to try and talk to more female students.

H ow are you connecting w ith EY now you’ ve l ef t?I’m trying to give back to EY in a number of ways: as well as attending EY forums on manufacturing and gender parity, I’m now hoping to mentor some new EY graduates too. I’ve been lucky to have a number of senior positions, so I want to be able to support and inspire others to meet their goals too. I think I’ve only managed to progress so far in my career because of the training EY gave me — it wasn’t just about hard skills; I really benefitted from the mentors I had, and the leadership training they offered. EY is a fantastic platform to help you grow; I don’t think you’ll find that level of support elsewhere.

“I want to support and inspire others to meet their goals.”

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When we meet Jean-Benoit Berty, we’re lucky to be surrounded by an array of tech gadgets, from VR goggles to a working drone. This seems more than apt for EY’s UK&I Senior Industry Leader and EMEIA Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Lead, even though Jean-Benoit is surprisingly modest about his own digital knowhow. “My children say I am the least ‘tech-conscious’ in my family,” he says, dryly. Whether or not this is true, it hasn’t stopped him playing a hugely influential role in one of EY’s biggest and most exciting teams.

In his current role, Jean-Benoit works with household names as well as brand new start-ups in the tech space to help them evolve and stay ahead in the ever-changing digital landscape. “What I

Upwardly mobileJean-Benoit Berty, UK&I Senior Industry Leader and EMEIA TMT Lead, tells us how his team is helping some of the world’s biggest companies innovate and stay ahead.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: Jason Alden

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love about this sector is seeing the impact that technology and innovation have on the world,” he says, “and anticipating the effect that will have on all our lives. That’s always interested me, and it’s continually changing.

“Because the technology industry is constantly evolving, companies in that sector need to keep up by finding new ways to reinvent themselves. It’s our job to help companies do that; they have to keep transforming in order to survive.”

Al l hand s on techThroughout Jean-Benoit’s 30-year career, he’s been well placed to help businesses navigate choppy waters. Born in France, he moved to the United States with his family aged 15, and completed his bachelor’s degree at New York University in 1987. After this, he took his first job with telecommunications giant US West International, which launched him into the world of telecoms.

“I was an analyst and spent two fantastic years travelling the world, supporting the president at US West International in the deals he was running,” he remembers. And as first jobs go, this one certainly sounds glamorous. “We were travelling on private jets, staying in the best hotels and inviting heads of state for dinner,” he laughs, “which set the bar quite high!”

It’s hard to imagine what it was like to observe the initial growth of mobile and cable technology — one of the biggest deals he observed at US West, for example, was a joint venture to create Telewest, which later went on to become Virgin Media. Could Jean-Benoit have known at the time just how much mobile innovations would take off? “Not at all,” he insists. “At the time, the hottest gadgets we had were things like cassette Walkmans, we had just a few terrestrial television channels and we still used fixed phones to call friends and family. If you’d told us then that in 30 years’ time, everyone would have a mobile phone that they’d use to make calls and watch videos across hundreds of channels — we wouldn’t have believed you. The pace of innovation keeps accelerating. Today, consumers and businesses no longer think in terms of decades or years; everything is in real time and on demand. We have to help our clients understand how this changes their horizons and what this means for their business.”

L eap s and b ound sAfter two years of jet-setting and dealmaking, Jean-Benoit completed his MBA at the University of Colorado, before taking a role at Gemini Consulting. After working his way up to Principal there, Jean-Benoit spent a few years as Managing Director at smaller consulting firms Bridgewater and Headstrong, before joining Capgemini Consulting as Vice President. From here, he was invited to join EY’s burgeoning Advisory practice as Partner, where he worked with current Chairman and UK&I Managing Partner Steve Varley, among others. “Most of all, I was excited by the prospect of growing a new team,” he says. “I love being part of a business’s growth story; that’s what has always attracted me to new opportunities.

“I was also very keen to work for an established company like EY. We spent the first few months establishing our strategy and deciding which kinds of clients we were best placed to work with — and,

“ The pace of innovation keeps accelerating – today everything is on demand.”

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by chance more than anything, I took the lead on client accounts with telecommunications and media businesses like Sony, Cisco and Xerox. So I was back working with that sector by accident! A few years later, we’d built up a strong practice with specialisms in certain sectors — one of which was TMT, which I now head up.”

W iring upDespite being centred on one sector, Jean-Benoit’s role is incredibly varied. In order to provide the best service and advice to clients, not only does he join the dots between EY’s Assurance, Tax, Transactions and Advisory teams, but his role necessarily forays into other sectors too. “The lines around the TMT space are starting to blur,” he says. “Many other industries are now having to adopt new technologies to make themselves relevant for customers.

“Part of my job now is to help our TMT clients position themselves as ‘enablers’ within other industries, to ride the wave of this trend. In other words, we’re helping them transform themselves from product providers to service providers, which requires a whole new business model. This way, they’re evolving with the times, as well as disrupting other industries — from healthcare to retailers. And I think that’s really exciting.

“For example, television channels, which for so long existed in the linear world, now make their content available anytime, anywhere and on any device. But even this ‘build it and they will come’ approach no longer seems relevant. Television companies are now redefining their relationships with audiences to deliver new experiences as well as new content — which is where I think technologies like virtual reality will come into play.”

And this kind of collaboration is becoming ever more important internally as well. “Working within

a sector that really is at the forefront of innovation, we find we’re not just devising partnerships and alliances between businesses — but we’re also creating them ourselves. We’re leveraging contacts with other clients, small and big, across EY to create links that help our clients grow.

“Furthermore, this entrepreneurial ecosystem is helping our Advisory practice stay ahead as well — and we’re already seeing huge successes from business ventures we’ve facilitated.”

V enturing f orthOne area that holds opportunities for TMT is the start-up space. Jean-Benoit, along with colleagues, has fostered good links with EYX (see page 33) to help some of its new companies grow. For example, EYX, in partnership with Advisory (sponsored by TMT) and Assurance, launched EY’s 2016 Start-Up Challenge to introduce some of their clients to entrepreneurs with exciting new business models.

The latest Start-Up Challenge focused on how blockchain could improve rights management for media companies. “Our role is crucial in this process, helping some of the world’s leading TMT companies understand the impact of new, potentially disruptive technologies but crucially also helping start-ups understand the bigger picture in a way they could never do themselves,” says Jean-Benoit. “We help them tackle relevant issues for our clients with solutions that can scale.”

In the end, it’s all about finding innovative answers to today’s pressing questions — and that’s what will keep EY, and its clients, at the cutting edge. “We all need to work together to come up with the best solutions,” says Jean-Benoit. “We’re lucky to work with some great names in the TMT industry; but it’s the unique alliances we can build with clients across the business that will set us apart.”

“ Many industries are having to adopt new technologies to make themselves relevant.”

Ev ery young person in t he U K , reg ard less of b ack g round or circumst ance, should b e ab le t o mak e a successful transition into a first job, hig her ed ucat ion or self - employment

The EY F oundation: c reating pathways to educ ation, employment and enterprise

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A meteoric riseA diverse client base and the career development opportunities o�ered by EY gave Sarah Levy the ideal platform for building a successful career in investor relations.

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“It’s seen as completely normal here because of how many women are on the management team,” says Sarah. “In the top team here it’s 50–50 — three women and three men — which is almost unheard of globally. At Kingfisher, it’s all about having the right person for the job.”

It was her wide range of skills — many honed at EY — that enabled Sarah to rise to the high–profile role that she holds at Kingfisher today.

C onsumer cl ientsAfter graduating, Sarah worked at EY as an Audit Manager from 1996 to 2004. She recalls: “When I joined EY I worked for TDG, the training development group, which was a multifunctional division. You could be working on a consumer client one day, an oil and gas client the next and a financial services client the day after that, so I was exposed to all sorts of businesses. But going into

your last year of studies, you had to choose what you wanted to do next and I got to the point where I had to either take a senior managerial role at EY or go into industry.”

She chose the latter. “As an auditor, you’ve got a very high-level understanding of what’s going into the companies you audit and I wanted to step away from that,” she says. “I decided the best way to do it was to join a finance team in a big company.”

L earning cul tureWhile with EY, she developed her training and presentation skills to become one of the firm’s national audit trainers. “If there’s something you want to do then EY is very helpful, as long as you know it makes sense for you developmentally,” she says.

Those presentation skills came to the fore at Kingfisher. “Every six months I had to visit our businesses to make sure they understood what the international accounting standards we were moving to at that time meant,” she recalls.

It might sound strange for someone who’s enjoyed a stellar career as an auditor, but Sarah Levy’s first big career break came when EY advised her not to study accountancy at university. Sarah picks up the story: “I knew I wanted to train to be an accountant from about the age of 15. I was always very keen on languages and maths — weirdly, I always thought of maths as another language. When I was in sixth form, I phoned EY because I was doing Maths, French and Spanish A levels and didn’t know what degree to do.

“I had already done some work experience at EY and they put me in contact with a careers adviser. I could have studied both accounting and languages at university but they said, just do the languages; you’ll learn all this stuff anyway when you come here and it will give you more flexibility longer term because you’ll bring a different skill set, which hopefully at some point you can use alongside

accountancy. I took the advice.”Sarah ended up with a Master’s Degree in Spanish

and French from the University of Manchester, which, years later, helped her land the job of Audit Manager at Kingfisher, a home improvement company that owns retailers including B&Q and Screwfix and has more than 1,100 stores in 10 countries across Europe.

“I wouldn’t have landed the job if I hadn’t been able to speak French,” explains Sarah. “My interview was in French, because at the time I joined we had just taken over the business in France and there was an ambition to recruit people who could speak French and help forge relationships.”

Even stevensAnd it’s fair to say Sarah has also become quite a trailblazer for women. As Group Investor Relations Director at Kingfisher, Sarah works alongside CEO Véronique Laury and CFO Karen Witts. Kingfisher is one of the few FTSE100 companies where both CEO and CFO are female.

“ Here at Kingfisher, it’s all about having the right person for the job.”

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Kingfisher. She says: “It is always good to know someone and have that connection from a previous working relationship, so I mentor him whenever this is helpful.” She’s also still in regular contact with a lot of people at EY and goes to networking events when she can.

She also spends time helping older people as a volunteer for Contact for the Elderly. “Most of the charity’s members are women over 75 who live on their own, so three or four times a year I host an afternoon tea,” says Sarah, who also volunteers at an old people’s home. “It’s 200 metres from my house and I do nails and facials there every Saturday. It’s quite good fun.”

Finding time for life outside Kingfisher is not always easy; Sarah spends around three months of the year away travelling. “It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, but sometimes I can fit in some sightseeing,” she says.

This seems like a well-earned reward after Sarah’s meteoric rise; together with the mentoring she has given to fellow team members along the way, this is surely a fitting legacy to leave to her former colleagues at EY — whichever language they speak.

To help herself understand Kingfisher’s business, Sarah spends time every year working within each of its businesses. It also helps her navigate the 400 investor meetings she takes worldwide each year. “I have to be able to hold my own and answer any question on any line of any P&L in any country.”

She has certainly made a good impression, winning a number of awards in recent years at the IR Society Best Practice Awards, including Best Investor Relations Officer.

M entoring rol eSarah’s standing in her profession means others often seek her advice — including fellow members of the EY Alumni Network. One of them is Garry Porter, Financial Director of IT and Digital at

“ If there’s something you want to do to develop, then EY is very helpful.”

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H ow have you seen trend s in the technol ogy/innovation sp ace change over your time here? W hy d o you think this hap p ened ? The pace of development in tech is remarkable! We interact with robots when we check out at the supermarket, pay for things with our mobile devices and socialise through online apps. This year, Facebook membership is set to surpass 2b users (that’s a quarter of the planet’s population!). In this increasingly connected world, we have access to an unprecedented amount of information. This has enabled a step change in innovation that no other generation before us has experienced. More data has been generated in the past three years than in the entire history of IT and it’s a trend that’s set to continue.

W hich areas are you f ocusing on f or 2 0 1 7 ?A particular focus of mine this year is ethics, specifically with AI and the use of data. Many of these technologies present a unique opportunity to create profound change and solve challenges in the world that were previously thought impossible. However, there are many areas where regulators and policymakers have not kept up with the pace of tech advancements, creating areas of uncertainty for users. Driverless cars is a great example — how does one program a car to make decisions in situations regarding life and death scenarios? Many would argue that these decisions should not be made by companies in isolation and safeguards need to be put in place for the betterment of the industry at large.

W hat are your interests outsid e w ork — anything that might surp rise us?Cycling is one of my passions, I’m currently training for a 200km ride later this year. I’m also studying an edX Columbia University course in Artificial Intelligence. edX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider that offers university-level courses via the web.

W hat is EYX and how is it hel p ing our cl ients?EYX is a cross-service-line team that catalyses, provokes and supports EY and its clients in achieving innovation objectives. We are looking at how new technologies can both transform existing services, and enable us to create new services. We are trialling a number of technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), blockchain, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to see how these could be used in the business and with our clients. One recent project was with a large FMCG company that asked us to help integrate AR content into its packaging. Clients are often impressed that EY has this capability and is collaborating with start-ups breaking new ground in technology development. Internally, I have also been surprised with the speed with which we can deploy technology to improve our service delivery as a firm.

W hat d o you enj oy ab out w orking w ithin EYX ?Working in EYX gives me a unique opportunity to help shape the future of the firm. We have an environment where we are encouraged to experiment; where failure is not seen as a bad word, but part of the process of learning and improving. Our approach in EYX is hands-on; rather than spending time creating presentations and spreadsheets, we create prototypes of solutions to bring data to life. Thanks to our collaborative approach, I can honestly say I learn something new every day from my colleagues and the start-ups we interact with.

Exploringnew groundChristina Larkin, EYX Programme Director, tells us how this cross-service- line team is helping EY to transform client service through new technologies.

Virtual reality is just one of the technologies

EYX is trialling

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situations, whether it’s helping companies raise money, being involved in acquisitions, or being involved in audits. I learnt so many things I’m now able to apply to my non-executive director roles.

W hy d id you get invol ved w ith the al umni p rogramme?I’ve always felt passionate about the alumni programme, and I very quickly learnt how valuable alumni can be to a firm like EY. EY can really be a useful resource for alumni too. In my last few years at EY I was the Partner Sponsor for the programme, and when I left I continued to be a member of the alumni council in the UK. The key point is that once you’ve joined EY, you never really leave. Whether you’re working with the firm or elsewhere, those connections last a lifetime.

Tel l us ab out your current p roj ects.EY helped me to build fantastic relationships within the mining sector, which have helped me hugely. My aim when retiring was to establish a non-executive director portfolio, so I am now an independent director of four companies, two of which are mining companies Kaz Minerals and Gem Diamonds, and a trustee of two charities, one of which is 21st Century Legacy, which introduces schoolteachers and students to mentoring and coaching skills. In all the companies I work with, EY has been involved at some point — I will recommend EY when I can, because I have a lot of confidence in the firm.

What legacy do you hope to have left with the firm?I’m an optimist, and believe there is always a solution to a problem. That’s something I always

H ow l ong d id you w ork f or EY?I worked for EY for 38 years — I often say to people: if you were to cut me open, you’d find the firm’s name running right through me. I helped to build a lot of teams in the oil and gas sector, as well as the mining sector, and when I left I was leading the mining and metals team. The great thing about a firm like EY is that no year is the same; you’re always developing and being introduced to new

Lasting connectionsMichael Lynch-Bell tells us how the EY alumni programme has helped him in his non-executive career, and how everyone can leverage this network too.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: John Wildgoose

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tried to instil with the teams I worked with — to look for those solutions so they could be responsive to client situations. The other area I think I contributed to was business development. At EY, you have to help broaden the firm’s client base, and I think those connections I made during my time there still benefit the firm today.

Tel l us ab out the f riend ship s you f ormed at EY.EY is a great place to build friendships — the colleagues you have will challenge you and help you build your own knowledge and expertise. You’ll work hard, but you’ll have fun too — and I now have a number of friends who I meet personally outside work. It’s fun to hear about new challenges they’re facing, and seeing if I can help them find solutions.

As a keen cycl ist, you took p art in R ace Across America to raise money f or charity. H ow d id you b ecome invol ved w ith Team Ab ana?Joining Team Abana was a no-brainer for me, because I was doing it with old EY friends of mine. The team set out to ride 3,000 miles across America, from California to Maryland, in just seven days to raise money for Chance for Childhood (C4C). I cycle myself so my friend, EY Partner Lee

Downham, invited me to join the ride — I thought he was joking, so I declined and opted to become Crew Chief instead! My role was a logistical one, planning everything from training and nutrition to fundraising and navigation. This was such a huge challenge, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done.

You al w ays make time to give b ack to EY. H ow d o you d o this?The firm was my life and my career, so I think it’s important to give back where I can. For me, that’s about networking and introducing EY to people who are looking for work. There are successful EY alumni programmes around the world, and I’m so proud to have been involved in recognising how valuable these networks can be.

“ Once you’ve joined EY, you never really leave. Those connections last.”

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W hen d id you j oin EY?I joined EY — then Arthur Young McClelland Moores — in 1971 in Edinburgh straight from Bristol University, where I studied Economics and Accounting. Each Friday the local C&L insolvency partner regaled us with gripping stories of his work. Many years later, at a dinner party, I was talking with a guest from Bristol and told her about the inspiration these Friday lectures had given us, only to discover that he was her father. The Edinburgh firm had some great clients — S&N, DCL — as well as local farms and trusts — even a church. It was a

very sound training indeed. Our final exams took place in the ICAS headquarters, now the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

W ere there any turning p oints in your career?Since qualifying in 1974, I moved through the traditional audit path, becoming a manager in 1979, then seriously thought about a change. A chance meeting with one of the senior partners, the late Gordon Howe, changed my mind. Gordon asked if I would like to go for an interview as a case officer at the Industrial Development Unit

A career-defining opportunity An unmissable opportunity persuaded former Partner William Powlett Smith to stay with EY and enjoy 37 years with the firm. Here, he talks about his enjoyable career with us, and his desire to give something back.

Words: Katie DolamorePhotography: The Factory

1 9 7 1 : Joins EY from Bristol University

1 9 7 4 : Becomes the first English university qualifying degree graduate to enter the ICAS apprenticeship scheme in Edinburgh; qualifies

1 9 7 9 : Becomes an audit manager and is seconded to the UK Government’s Industrial Development Unit

1 9 8 1 : Passes the CIOT associate exams; joins the firm’s Business Services Group (subsequently ESG)

1 9 8 4 : Becomes a partner in London

1 9 8 8 : Moves to EY’s Reading office as Audit Partner

1 9 8 9 : Establishes the Corporate Advisory Services practice in Thames Valley and heads up the Anglo-German team in the firm

1 9 9 4 : Leads the firm’s biotech industry team

2 0 0 8 : Retires from EY; takes on two non-executive appointments, teaching and charity work

W il l iam’ s C V

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MINUTES WITH…Stephanie King

Tel l us ab out your rol e at EY.I have been a Partner in People Advisory Services, based in London, since 2014. I specialise in helping clients tackle the complex issues associated with having a global workforce. I currently focus on our London market, as well as growing our China market, leading a specialised team dedicated to supporting Chinese clients operating in the UK. W here w ere you b ef ore?I have always worked in global mobility, first as a graduate with Andersen in London and then with EY. I undertook a short-term assignment with a client in New York very early in my career. This definitely gave me a taste for more international experience. I moved to Sydney in 1999 and then to Singapore, before returning to the UK in 2014. W hat are the b iggest chal l enges f or your cl ients?As a result of developments in globalisation, demographics, technology and regulation, our clients are operating in a

complex and rapidly changing global environment. They need to be able to manage the complexities, the constant regulatory change and be able to disrupt themselves on a global basis. Against this backdrop, it is getting more difficult to find, manage, motivate and retain talent whilst also controlling the costs of a global workforce.

H ow are you hel p ing to b uil d a b etter w orking w orl d ?I think this starts with understanding what our clients do and how we help them achieve their goals. For example, I work with a client that provides English language training all over the world – it has made a big difference to the lives of many individuals and I love that our work with them helps them to do this. W hat w oul d you l ike your EY l egacy to b e?That I helped to build successful, motivated, diverse teams who feel they are making a difference.

— I would be replacing Mike Davis, the eventual Manchester Managing Partner. A secondment like this was a great opportunity for managers to broaden their experience, make new contacts and develop new skills; it was an unmissable opportunity! EY has always encouraged initiative, and another opportunity came with changes in German corporate law in the late 1980s, which opened a window for Anglo-German collaboration in professional services; I became the leader of the firm’s UK/Germany team.

W hat d id you l earn f rom EY that has stayed w ith you?To use my initiative, and to make people feel respected and valued. EY people are bright and resourceful, and that made me determined to help build high-performing teams in other organisations. For example, cross-cultural sensitivity helped me as Treasurer, then Chair, of a charity that helps educate orphans in Zambia, and I initiated 360-degree appraisals at Prior’s Court Foundation, a residential school for severely autistic young people, which I have been working with since 2013.

W hat el se have you b een d oing since retirement?Initially I had two non-executive appointments in Scotland — one in biotech and one in farming. Following the example of the C&L insolvency partner in Bristol, I teach finance and accounting subjects to US undergraduates visiting St Clare’s, Oxford (one day a week in term time). Apart from Prior’s Court, I chair the Northern House School Academy Trust, which runs several schools for children with special needs, and I was a founder member of Charity Mentors Oxfordshire.

W hat d o you get out of the EY al umni netw ork?I enjoy the gatherings. It is useful to compare experiences with former colleagues and contemporaries. It’s a useful network to have when you need it.

Tel l us something that p eop l e d on’ t know ab out you.Since the age of eight, when I heard the Black Watch trooping the colour, I had wanted to learn to play the bagpipes. My children bought me a set when I retired from EY. I was taught by a Scots Guard and I have played at weddings, funerals, birthdays and even an EY partners’ lunch — the neighbours are very tolerant about practice!

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North. “Mike Davis had started a new department, the Business Services Group [later renamed the Entrepreneurial Services Group] that looked after entrepreneurs,” says Jan. “Because I’d grown up in a family business, I really took to the whole entrepreneurial thing.”

Together, the group developed a range of workshops for entrepreneurs that EY worked with. Jan, who had been an audit partner since 1988, loved working with entrepreneurs. “Being able to take a big firm’s power and use it to help younger, growing companies develop is a great feeling and we took a number of companies to the stock market,” he says.

The experience led to Jan becoming a member of a four-partner team in 2001, headed up by David Wilkinson, tasked with introducing the Entrepreneur Of The Year programme across the UK. “Some partners were very sceptical,” he remembers. “One asked me: ‘What are you going to do in year two? Where are you going to find all these entrepreneurs?’ Well, here we are nearly 20 years later and we’re still finding them.”

He may have retired, but Jan continues to help new businesses flourish. He is a non-executive director of two entrepreneurial businesses in the North West, including Best Companies Limited, based near Chester, which runs the ‘Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to work for’ awards. They also provide consulting on employee engagement to many large and small companies. He was until recently a member of The Prince’s Trust North West Development committee, which gives bursaries to young people starting businesses. “Some of them come from the most difficult backgrounds and it’s so inspiring to hear their stories,” says Jan, who has been a mentor to a number of these young people.

As an Adjunct Professor at Manchester Business School, it’s useful for Jan Gregory to be able to draw on his own experience. Thanks to a career that has taken Jan from his native Shropshire to Shanghai and beyond, he certainly has plenty to call on.

It all started in the 1970s when, aged 21, Jan qualified as a chartered accountant with a small practice in Shrewsbury. “I was one of the youngest chartered accountants in the country at the time,” he recalls. “I wanted to get on with work. My father died when I was 16 and, I suppose, that matured me quite quickly.”

Jan then came to London and joined Turquands Barton Mayhew & Co, which later merged with Ernst & Whinney. After two years there, he joined the firm’s secondee programme and went to work in The Hague, in the Netherlands. He worked there for two years and was quickly thrust into a position of responsibility. “There were only about 20 people in the office and the second summer I was there I was left in charge, he recalls. “I was sent to business receptions and government events at a young age, which was a great experience and good fun and it certainly helped later in my career.”

Jan got married just before he moved to the Netherlands and says: “We had a really good time but decided after two years that either we had to become Dutch or come back, because you can’t be an expat abroad all the time.” Jan and his wife moved to Manchester, where he joined EY’s office at the time when Arthur Young merged with Ernst & Whinney to create Ernst & Young (now EY).

Entrep reneurial sp iritOne of the highlights of his time in Manchester was working as Head of Entrepreneurial Services for the

Jan with a planFrom teaching business students to helping good causes, former Partner Jan Gregory is enjoying a fulfilling retirement — and is keen to share his experiences with other partners on how to get the post-EY balance right.

Words: Lawrence Cohen

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in being a founding Trustee of Cheshire Community Foundation, Jan was appointed as one of the eight founding Trustees of the EY Foundation (eyf ound in 2014. As part of his role, Jan spends two hours a month advising The Proud Trust, an LGBT charity. “They go into schools to educate pupils and it’s all about getting rid of taboos and prejudice,” he says.

B ack to schoolJan has also been working as an Adjunct Professor at Manchester Business School since 2011, working with former clients to develop case studies for the school’s global MBA programme. He also teaches these case studies to students in three-day workshops — including some in Shanghai, arranged through EY’s offices there — and has convinced

B y royal ap p ointmentJan’s involvement with The Prince’s Trust stretches back to his time at EY. In his retirement year, when he was Office Managing Partner for the North West, he organised a three-day bike ride from Liverpool to Newcastle that raised £50,000. The ride was then adopted by the Trust as one of its annual challenges across the UK.

Then, in 2008, Jan was part of a four-man team that won The Prince’s Trust Costa Rica Challenge, biking, hiking and white-water rafting across the country in seven days and raising £48,000 in the process. “It was pretty arduous for someone in his mid-50s and nearly all the other teams were in their 20s,” he says, “but we trained for it and won, mainly because we worked as a team.”

Because of this background and his involvement

“Retirement has taught me that you’ve got to have a mixture of things to do.”

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one thing that really helped me was a counsellor who said to me: ‘I want you to go away and write down what a normal week in retirement would look like’,” says Jan, who recommends the exercise to anyone approaching retirement.

Variety, he adds, is the spice of post-EY life. “What retirement has taught me is that you’ve got to have a mixture of things to do,” says Jan. “You need to keep it fresh.”

Besides the work he does, he now spends more time with his wife and four sons, his brother and his friends. “I recently went on a trip with one of my fellow former partners, Barry Flynn, to see First World War battlefields,” says Jan, who is also Treasurer of a 1,600-member sports club and still cycles 100 miles a week. It might be 40 years since Jan joined EY, but he’s as enthusiastic as ever about experiencing work and life.

a number of former partners, including Simon Oldfield, to help him present case studies on private equity-backed businesses. Jan also delivers 12 training courses a year for EY and has found he enjoys lecturing. “Keeping younger people around keeps me young!” he says.

While some partners choose to take it easy in retirement, Jan prefers to keep busy, dividing his time between charitable and paid work. He reveals: “Some partners have asked me: ‘Why do you want to do paid work?’ The answer is that it gives me an anchor. I’ve found it good to challenge myself into getting some fee-paying work. Before retiring, I hadn’t been interviewed for a job in 30 years.”

R ecommend ed ex erciseIn the run-up to his retirement in 2011 at the age of 56, he received plenty of support from EY. “The

“ Using a big firm’s power to help growing companies is a great feeling.”

“The Proud Trust works to provide life-enhancing benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Jan has been supporting us to take on an asset — the LGBT centre for Manchester. Jan’s support has included reviewing financial and business plans and supporting the Trust to create an options document to guide the process of asset transfer. We are tremendously grateful for Jan’s help and guidance.”

Amelia Lee — Strategic Director, The Proud Trust


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business, cross-sector, small, large, public, private, but predominantly small as global standards go. Working with smaller companies gave me the opportunity to lead a lot earlier in my career than I expected, allowing me to develop leadership experience at quite a junior stage.”

After two-and-a-half years in core audit, Sonia got the opportunity to work at one of EY’s clients, British Energy, for a year as IFRS Project Leader, helping them move over to the (then new) IFRS accounting standards. Sonia says: “It was a huge opportunity that would take me well beyond my comfort zone. It would require me to deal with a host of new and complex topics, a large amount of uncertainty and many and varied business stakeholders — but I knew I would learn a lot and had the support to succeed. It certainly set me up for later life.”

She might have moved 9,000 miles away to start a new job but, in one regard, Sonia Swinney feels right at home in Australia. After two years as Head of Financial Control at John Lewis, Sonia has rejoined EY as a Director in EY’s Financial Accounting Advisory Services’ (FAAS) Sydney office. “I know quite a lot of people in Australia and 90% of them are EY or ex-EY,” she says, “so I’ll be reconnecting with friends and hoping to absorb their knowledge about the Australian marketplace.”

Sonia began making those friends back in 2001, when she joined EY’s Glasgow office as a graduate trainee. “I remember my first day at EY, with my cheap suit, a bob and a large dose of naivety, but I’ve come a long way with EY since then and hold a lot of good memories of those early career days in Glasgow,” she says. “Because it was quite a small marketplace, I got to work with every kind of

Words: Lawrence CohenPhotography: The Factory

Home and awayWhether it’s moving to Brazil, joining John Lewis or relocating to Australia to rejoin EY, Sonia Swinney has always been able to rely on colleagues past and present for support.

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you created a plan collaboratively, creatively and methodically — I enjoyed the opportunity to support my clients in times like this that were full of ambiguity and challenge. The nature of these projects often created a great team spirit and long-lasting friendships.”

As much as she enjoyed the work, Sonia felt that, after four years in London, it was time for a change. “I am someone who gets restless and was thinking about taking time off and going travelling, perhaps learning another language,” she says. “I couldn’t afford to, though, because I had a mortgage. I saw my opportunity when I heard that EY US were looking for people with experience of IFRS to bring over to the Americas, so I put myself forward with a note to send me to South America.”

Although relocating to South America seemed daunting, colleagues assured Sonia everything would be fine. “When you’re going with a company like EY, it takes a lot of the fear out of it because you know you’ve got that support network; you’re not by yourself. It helps you just close your eyes and step over the edge of the cliff of your comfort zone knowing that it will be fine,” she says.

L ond on cal l ingThat experience led to Sonia leaving her native Scotland for London. “EY was trying to find people nationwide who had experience in IFRS and bring them to London to create a team now known as FAAS,” she says.

The team handled IFRS advisory, including conversions and inbound transaction services that required IFRS conversion, often involving acquisitions of US firms by UK companies. Sonia recalls: “One of my fondest memories is of a project in Houston. It was a Friday afternoon and I got a call from a senior manager (who later led FAAS in the UK) asking: ‘Can we put together a team before Monday to do work on a transaction conversion in Houston? I can’t tell you anything more about it at this time.’ So, at four o’clock in the afternoon we put together a team to fly to Houston on the Monday morning; a team full of anticipation with a great can-do spirit regarding the challenge that would lie ahead.

“FAAS was full of projects like this where you truly sat beside your client with a blank page and a question or problem to work through and

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with a degree of ease, meant I was not phased by new role responsibilities and had the confidence in decision-making. That, with my time in Brazil, which had made me much more confident, both played an invaluable role in my successful transition to my Financial Controller role.”

C ontinental shif tSonia hadn’t planned on leaving John Lewis after two years, but a former EY colleague sounded her out about a job down under. “The opportunity to move to Australia was big for me, with the chance

to have not only a new career experience, but also a new lifestyle,” she explains.

She’s excited about her return to FAAS and sees a lot of scope to use her knowledge and experience to support the achievement of the FAAS Australia growth plans and beyond. “The FAAS team in Sydney is quite small — around 30 people — but it’s growing fairly rapidly,” says Sonia.

And she’s also looking forward to life outside work — which certainly sounds idyllic. “Sydney is a great city and I love the idea that you can finish work on a Friday and go to the beach or to the Blue Mountains,” she says. “The only thing I’m not looking forward to are the spiders!”

She is, however, looking forward to catching up with former colleagues now living in Australia. “Most of my closest friends are people I met at EY!” she says. “I guess we have a similar outlook, similar values, and we all tend to like a good glass of wine and conversation.”

From Scotland or Sydney, those friends have helped Sonia make the bold moves that have punctuated her career seem a little less daunting.

Life in Brazil still took some adapting to. “Culturally it was very different to what I expected, but it’s a great country to work in and I had a great time,” she reflects. “I think it taught me a bit of self-belief, patience and resilience.”

After two years as an IFRS Implementation Advisor based in Sao Paulo, Sonia decided to return to the UK, but was undecided over whether to stay at EY. “I love to learn and was interested in doing an MBA, but I couldn’t afford to do something like that,” she remembers. “The great thing about EY is you can navigate into different types of experience

and I thought, there’s no reason why I can’t do elements of an MBA experientially, so I sought out opportunities to take leadership roles. In particular, I took on a people leadership role for FAAS, which was invaluable in opening my eyes to people engagement, empowerment and development.”

Her leadership skills helped Sonia land the role of Head of Financial Control at John Lewis in 2014, which included coordinating risk management for the department store chain. “The risk aspect of the job was really interesting to me because it takes you outside finance,” she says. “The risk committee was quite early in its stage of maturity, so part of the job was about getting the committee up the learning curve so it could challenge the business around how it manages risk and into a much more strategic space, rather than just managing compliance.

“I drew on many of my experiences at EY in this role, whether it be technical knowledge or leadership skills, but I also learnt a huge amount that I would not have had the opportunity to do had I not spent that time outside of EY. I believe my time in FAAS, where I learnt to deal with ambiguity

“Most of my closest friends are people I met at EY.”


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UK annual alumni reception

Alumni private view: EY exhibitionMore than 200 alumni and EY hosts gathered for a reception and private view of ‘The EY exhibition: Wifredo Lam’, whose work defined new ways of painting for the New World.

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May’s alumni reception brought together 300 people at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s blockbuster exhibition ‘Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains’. The exhibition received excellent reviews and provided EY hosts and alumni with the perfect backdrop for networking. It was also an opportunity to celebrate the lasting legacies of our alumni.

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Annual retired partners’ lunch More than 80 former Partners attended the annual retired partners’ Christmas lunch. Steve Varley, Chairman and UK&I Managing Partner, opened the event with a roundup of the firm’s news and highlights over the last 12 months.

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M ichel D riessen Senior Partner, Transaction Advisory Services & UK Alumni Programme Sponsor 0 2 0 7 9 5 1 8 7 9 [email protected]

C l aire F orresterSenior Marketing Executive, UK Alumni Programme0 2 0 7 1 9 7 9 1 4 [email protected]

N icol a S utherl andAssistant Director,UK Alumni Programme0 2 0 7 9 5 1 3 2 9 [email protected]

C ontact the EY al umni team

In a year of change and uncertainty that is transforming business, FRO brings together more than 500 senior business and finance leaders for a day of insights from renowned thought leaders and subject matter experts.

As well as covering important reporting and accounting developments, the FRO will also explore the business implications of ongoing geopolitical instability. Discussions will cover the risks and challenges ahead, while focusing on the upside of disruption and the opportunities it can create.

Register for your complimentary place: visit ro and enter discount code “EYAlumni” at the end of your registration.

Stay ahead with EY insightsVisit the EY alumni portal to tailor the insights you receive to your mailbox:

Financial Reporting Outlook 2017A complimentary place* at EY’s flagship annual conference, Financial Reporting Outlook (FRO), is on o�er for EY Partner alumni.

*Please note that this opportunity is not open to Partner Alumni who are in any way connected to/affiliated with an EY audit client.

Economic up d ate

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It is important to note that much of the innovation that captures most attention is in the consumer rather than the corporate space. Many of these new services appear to be available at low or zero cost, which may explain some of the reasons why we don’t see innovation showing up in productivity statistics as strongly as we might expect. This may also mean that businesses should be wary about how they respond. Disrupting a profitable business to create one with free services may not be value enhancing.

Erixon and Weigel identify a number of factors that they believe are currently inhibiting innovation: “Gray Capital” — the desire of pension funds and institutional investors for predictability, which acts to slow change; managerialism — where corporate bureaucracy and planning processes work to ensure stability and hence work against innovation; globalisation – acting to strengthen the power of incumbents in end user markets and throughout value chains; and regulation — which increasingly works to reduce market dynamism, making it hard for new firms to enter markets.

The authors’ analysis provides a guide to factors that are influencing the rate of innovation in different sectors. Companies in relatively concentrated sectors, especially ones in which regulation shapes the market, may well find they are more protected from disruption than firms in other sectors. Making the move to disrupt the market in these cases could well destroy the value that could be generated by a more gradual approach. By contrast, fragmented sectors such as hotels and taxis provide examples of how disruption can take hold. Although even in some of these sectors, the presence of regulatory barriers provides larger firms with some protection.

Disruption is in vogue, and the message seems to be that there is no alternative and hesitation is not an option. This is not universally the case — decisions should be made based on rigorous analysis. A more gradual approach may be more beneficial for many companies. It is important to do the work now to ensure the business is prepared when disruption does materialise.

Pick up a newspaper, read the latest magazine, listen to the news and the message is consistent and clear — the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here, and businesses must disrupt or be disrupted. Whenever a trend becomes so universally accepted, I always worry about how everyone can be so certain about an outcome.

There are alternative views about the pace of change and its implications. The Innovation Illusion, by Frederik Erixon and Björn Weigel, suggests that contrary to the view that the pace of innovation is accelerating, the reality is that markets have become increasingly stable. There has only been one new company in the CAC 40 since 1970, and only two entrants to the DAX 30 in Germany in the same period. The top 100 most valuable companies in Europe are all over 40 years old. This view is supported by research by Harvard Business School’s Shikhar Ghosh, who found that over 95% of start-ups fail to deliver their expected returns.

However, scepticism over future innovation sits uneasily with the everyday experience. When we consider the media and music worlds, it is certainly the case that there has been dramatic change in the way that these products and services are supplied and consumed. Messaging services and other developments mean we are in an “always on” world.

‘Disrupt, or be disrupted’ might be the mantra of the day but, says EY UK&I Chief Economist Mark Gregory, this doesn’t apply to every company.

Is moving first always the best disruption strategy?

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Economics for BusinessOur Economics for Business programme provides knowledge, analysis and insight to help businesses understand the economic environments in which they operate.

Our programmes include: EY ITEM Club (UK & Scotland); EY Attractiveness Surveys; Capital Confidence Barometer; UK Profit Warnings and our EY UK region and city economic forecast.

For more information visit:

Can EY’s purpose help you realise yours?At EY, we’re proud of our alumni. Can we learn from you and inspire you with our purpose in return? Share your purpose with #EYAlumni

The better the question. The better the answer. The better the world works.

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