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Becoming a successful business leader

Read our one-to-one interview with Andy Raynor, former CEO of RSM Tenon, to find out what it takes to be a successful business leader in his current position as a consultant/non-executive director.  

Andy started his career at KPMG, where he qualified as a chartered accountant, before moving to BDO Stoy Hayward in the East Midlands, at the time a small practice firm of 14 people. He believed that at BDO he would be able to see more of the workings behind entrepreneurial growth businesses, rather than a professionally managed large corporate.

Andy's role at BDO rapidly evolved into an advisory, rather than pure accountancy focused, role. This was especially important while working within a small firm, where it was necessary to differentiate himself when competing against bigger, longer established and more resourceful businesses.

Many of Andy's clients were entrepreneurs and not afraid to ask direct questions about the difference an adviser could make to their business. Personal relationships were key in this role - a strong personality was required and straight-forward and honest answers were given. As a result, the advisory business expanded rapidly and Andy was promoted to head of corporate finance, head of business development and then – before 2001 when it was sold to Tenon Group – managing partner. By 2003, he had been promoted to CEO of RSM Tenon Group, where he remained until 2012.

What does your current role involve? 

I currently run my own consultancy/advisory firm and hold positions as a non-executive director, which involves understanding your business so that I can do the best for you. Even when I’m acting as an advisor I will be wearing my non-executive hat. This role is a license to apply my experience which will add to that of the business leader. I’m trying to tell them in minutes something that they may never otherwise learn. A non-executive director can help you to understand that not all answers have to be invented afresh. 

I have always wanted to find out more about what made business tick – or more to the point, what makes the people who make business tick?

What skills does someone in your job need to be successful? 

Good communication skills are vital for the role. Businesses I have led have all been about people, motivation and growth. Attention to the real priorities, flexibility and the ability to meet deadlines while working under pressure are also important.

What attracted you to working in an advisory capacity? 

As mentioned in my profile above I have always wanted to find out more about what made business tick – or more to the point, what makes the people who make business tick? Advice is applied experience and experience is applied curiosity. You can’t do this role and you can’t lead a business unless you want to learn more about it, all the time.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a business leader? 

Don’t be possessive over your work - you need to be able trust the team you have selected. So – be best at talent spotting and make sure the talent you spot are talent spotters too! It really is all about the right people and how they feel. A motivated team can work miracles.


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