Interview with Paul Bready, Director of Craig Corporate

Paul Bready, Director of Craig Corporate, a long standing client of Rutherford Cross’, shares his thoughts on the firm’s evolution and the consultancy and corporate finance markets in which they operate.

Paul joined Craig Corporate as an Executive in 2016 and his ability to deliver positive outcomes for his clients, his commitment, and the reputation he has built in the Scottish market have been rewarded with several promotions, resulting in his current role as Director of the business.

We posed Paul the following questions:

You’ve been with the firm for over 6 years now, what have you enjoyed most in your time and do you still encounter new challenges?

New challenges arrive for me every day because my role has evolved and developed with our growing business. I have a wide remit here – I have busy recurring clients, interesting new projects, business development, staff and office management – plenty to keep me out of trouble and send challenges my way. I’m very lucky to have the most talented and supportive team; each and every one of our people understands and values what makes Craig Corporate unique.

Our special relationship with each of our clients is key to that uniqueness. Craig Corporate works with clients throughout their business ‘life’ which means I participate in some of their most important moments – we might say the ‘highs and lows’. I’ve always enjoyed being a client CEO’s first phone call when something goes well or not as planned. To be honest it’s a privilege being the person on the end of that call. Trust is key to our clients and that trust is hard earned and I never take that for granted, it’s a key part of our DNA, and the biggest positive challenge we set ourselves to achieve as a team at Craig Corporate.

I also take great pleasure in seeing our own team grow and helping to steer our firm’s development – this year we became an ICAS approved training office, a commitment I take real pride in.

The economic climate over the last few years has been challenging and the forecast suggest more difficult times to come, however it seems Craig Corporate has grown significantly and your pipeline of assignments is looking positive for next year.  How have you achieved this?

The quieter times during COVID-19 allowed some time for pause and reflection on what kind of business we wanted to be, and to implement change. Ultimately the success of that change depends on our existing people and on the caliber of new recruits that we attract. No matter how much BD activity we do, clients buy ‘Craig Corporate’ because people meet, like, and trust our Craig Corporate people and their advice – to quote a longstanding client, this “isn’t always the advice they’d want to hear, but it’s the advice that’s needed”.

Have changes to businesses’ working models provided different opportunities for the firm post-Covid?

Our working life has certainly changed – pre-Covid travel was part of the norm for us  (frequent red-eye flights to London and beyond); travel is still a factor in our business but the need has dropped quite significantly as clients have embraced remote working. We all work from home regularly but I think it’s important to keep a base, somewhere the team can meet and learn from one another. I’ve always been someone who likes to work from an office, so we leave it up to each team member to decide what works best for them.

This remote working flexibility has been a staff boost for sure, but it’s also directly led to new business. A good general example of this – Interim Finance Director assignments. Pre Covid these would have been more Scotland focused – our reach on this service has extended both nationally and internationally, and remote working has partly enabled that growth.

How has the firm’s culture evolved in recent years?

I think professional and home life has merged, in ways we could never have imagined and our culture has evolved and sharpened around this change, to the benefit of both our clients and our staff. We’ve adapted to a more youthful, streamlined, energetic and agile culture here – it’s happened almost automatically, which I’m pleased about. We’ve retained our traditional sense of drive, ambition, pride in our work, and commitment to our clients though, that’s unchanged. That is our constant.

You have added recently qualified CAs to the team recently, what type of work can an individual joining as an Executive expect to get involved in?

It’s a real mix as an Executive. We like new consultants to find their feet with variety in their first year (partly to see what they enjoy and partly to see where their talents lie). This means they will work with and be supported by most of the team on different projects throughout their first year. Using our most recent Executive as an example: he worked on a software company due diligence exercise with me, a feasibility review for a Management Buyout with our MD, and has now secured a short-term Interim Finance Director role of a VC-backed software company – a quick trajectory, but the right fit for him as a Consultant.

What excites you most about the future of the firm?

I’m excited most by what we’re building here. We’re two years into a renewed strategy which focuses on what makes Craig Corporate special and different; so far it’s working, and we’re seeing the firm grow both in terms of clients and our team. We have two new Executives joining in 2023, which will make for a great start to the year – I’m looking forward to spending time with them and introducing them to our clients.

Then in 2025 we’ll celebrate 40 years of Craig Corporate – to be part of the business’s stewardship at this significant milestone is very motivating for me, and a real privilege.