"Putting people first" (Jersey Evening Post - 12th August 2020)

Adam Budworth, Winner of the IoD Jersey Director of the Year Award, Small-Medium Business Director

IoD Jersey and Gold Sponsor, Appleby, recently announced the winners of the Director of the Year Awards 2020. Adam Budworth from Grant Thornton was recognised for his achievements in making a tangible, positive change in employee engagement over recent years. The judges noted Mr Budworth’s clear strategy for growth and ability to successfully deliver global strategies at a local level. The Awards were also made possible due to sponsorship from HSBC, and it’s hoped there will be an official presentation in December, Covid restrictions allowing.

Tell us a little about your background with Grant Thornton?

I joined Grant Thornton Channel Islands in 2014 and took on the role of Managing Director of the pan Channel Islands accountancy and business advisory firm in 2016. At the time of joining, I was struck by the low level of employee engagement in the business. Our latest employee survey had recorded an eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) of -7%. I realised that in order to move the company forward, I had to place people at the heart of my vision for the company’s future development and success.

By putting people first, I was able to transform the eNPS from -7% to +48%; the highest score achieved by any member firm in the Grant Thornton International network (made up of 56,000 tax, audit and business advisory professionals operating in over 140 countries worldwide). This, coupled with continued, strong financial performance, led Grant Thornton Channel Islands to be nominated for ‘Global Firm of the Year’ at this year’s Grant Thornton International Excellence Awards; not bad for an organisation comprising of just 150 people!

To be recognised amongst some huge hitters in our global network like the UK, Australia, and the USA was an amazing achievement. It made me think, I must be doing something right and we should celebrate the special and unique way we work and why not see if we can be recognised locally? So, with the IoD Awards, it felt like the time was right to enter and share our story with the judges.

What was your journey to becoming a Director?

I have always wanted to be an accountant from an early age. A degree in accountancy followed by the ICAEW examinations meant I had reached my childhood goal in 2000. It was a chance call in 2001 which led to my first Director role in 2003, I joined a local owner managed accountancy practice (MRI Moores Rowland) in April 2001 and was made a partner in February 2003 at the age of 29. I stayed with Moores Rowland and latterly Mazars Channel Islands for the following 10 years until I moved to Grant Thornton in 2014.

What qualities should a good Director possess?

We’ve been incredibly fortunate to welcome and host a number of internationally renowned sporting personalities at our office, such as former professional boxer Frank Bruno MBE, recently retired professional rugby player - Wales and Lions captain, Sam Warburton and the current England Head Rugby Coach, Eddie Jones.

These leaders were able to share with us their insights into what it takes to become a good leader and we have tried to instill these values in all our people to help them thrive, drive for personal and professional growth and commercial success.

For me personally, I think it’s the fact I will always put our people first. I am proud to have instilled a culture that is all inclusive, which means I listen and consider every voice. I will always do my best to act on the needs of my team.

Taking a balanced and patient approach is also incredibly important. When faced with varying opinions, this approach allows me to listen to ideas, give others a voice, but not be swayed by anything other than what is fundamentally right for the business.

I’d also say you need to have humility and accept you don’t always know all of the answers and you should be prepared to ask for help.

Being open to feeling exposed and vulnerable, which of course is not always a comfortable feeling, is an essential part of being a good leader. I’m not afraid of putting myself in difficult situations or feeling at risk personally. I do this, because I understand our business comes first, above any needs I may have personally. In such occasions, I may make decisions that are not always the most popular, but I will always explain my reasonings to help bring our people along with me on the journey.

A good leader also needs to be be respectful. Our team is incredibly multicultural, with 19 different nationalities working for us to date. It is important that I am accessible to all, so I can listen and understand which aspects of the varying cultures are non-negotiable. By adopting this approach, I encourage all staff, myself included, to be authentic and bring their true self to work.

What does the future look like?

Grant Thornton has a strong vision for the future – our 2023 strategy is to become the leading business advisor to dynamic organisations in the Channel Islands, measured through turnover and other financial indicators.

So far, we are on track to achieve our vision, having significantly increased our turnover in the past four years; being regarded as ‘world class’ by our clients, in terms of our service offering and achieving the highest eNPS in the entire Grant Thornton global network.

At the forefront of our strategic vision, is my promise to listen to our people and take appropriate actions. It is my philosophy to ensure we deliver a distinctive service to our clients in a challenging, proactive environment and to support the development of our staff.

To help us achieve our ambitious headcount, we have also recently finalised a refurbishment project that has doubled the size of our office space, with a dedicated staff area; built in response to feedback which sought a space to relax and socialise.

We are very proud to be one of the first organisations in Jersey to welcome back the majority of our people to the office, thanks to the spacious and safe working environment we can offer.

It would be foolish not to mention the impact of COVID-19 on our future growth plans. Admittedly, the outbreak of COVID-19 has not been without its challenges, but I am incredibly proud of my team for delivering support, not just to our existing clients, but for also supporting local businesses through our work with the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Jersey Hospitality Association and the various groups and associations our staff are members of.

How has the IoD helped you?

The presence of local business associations has never been more felt, or welcomed more widely than since the outbreak of COVID-19. They have acted as the voice of struggling local businesses and have lobbied tirelessly to government to demand change and support during these difficult times.

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