To mark #InternationalMensDay 2018, we’re joined by Martin who works in the Forensic and Investigation Services team in Birmingham.
Martin speaks to us about his career at Mazars, his encounter with former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, what good leadership entails, and how organisations should make work more manageable for expectant and new parents.
I started at Mazars 15 years ago in audit. In the second year of my contract I was asked to do a six week Secondment in the Forensic and Investigation Services (“FIS”) team. The case involved analysing a number of bank accounts from all over the world and tracing the flow of funds. This six weeks became six months and after some negotiation I moved full time into FIS. 13 years later I am now a Director in the team and take a lead in developing the investigation aspect of FIS.
Why did you choose your career?
I studied accountancy at University and vowed that I would not become an accountant. So after ignoring my own mind and not knowing what to do, I joined Mazars. I knew after a year that audit was not for me but didn’t know what I wanted to do. Luckily the FIS secondment came up and I loved the idea of investigating. I was lucky that Mazars gave me the opportunity, however fortunate, to try something I didn’t even know existed. Although, with most things there are bad days, I genuinely say I do enjoy the work I do and the challenges it presents.
Who inspires you?
Those that know me won’t be surprised to hear that I am going to say Sir Alex Ferguson. Having the privilege of meeting him at a Euro away game I was taken aback at the presence and aura that he had (must be the reason for the cheesy grin in my picture).
I have even more respect now than I did when he was in charge, as I have seen the team struggle for identity, purpose and motivation since he retired. This demonstrates what a great leader he was and how he inspired the players to achieve so much.
Whenever you listen to managers speak of Sir Alex its always how much he helped them and regardless of how busy he was, he would return calls and offer guidance to people learning their trade. Even journalists and referees that have crossed paths with him talk of what an inspiration and leader he was and often that the behaviour we saw was to take away pressure from his team and place it on himself. He was a man who never stood still and moved with the times as football became more money orientated and yet still found success. The fact that most players who he managed still refer to him as “Boss” shows the respect that he had. If I can be a 10th of the leader that he is I will have done well.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I think the worst leadership style I’ve encountered in my career was someone (not at Mazars by the way) that accepted all of the praise from a client on one task – yet on another task when criticism was given – they “hung their team out to dry”.
After seeing this, I consider as a leader, it is vital to pass praise down but to also be accountable for any criticism that comes your way. If you take the leadership role you have to be big enough to take the rough with the smooth. But another important lesson is that if criticism has come your way, you can explain to the team or just the individual (and certainly not in front of the client) what this was and turn it into a development point for all parties (including you as a leader).
When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?
A lot comes from within as I am an incredibly proud person with a strong desire to be the best I can be. I never want to let anyone down and regardless of how I feel I always strive to do the best I can. I hate to lose and my competiveness keeps me focussed. This can cause its own problems as I don’t always tend to ask for help when I need it and try to get things done myself.
I am lucky that I can rely on the support of my wife who often has to put up with the moodiness that comes with tough times. She knows when I need a shoulder to cry on and when I need a kick to get me going. Also, I am now a proud father of 4 month old twins, so a smile from them puts things into perspective. Nothing is more important than family and with their support I feel as though I can get through anything.
What can organisations do more generally to create a culture of inclusion?
I feel organisations often look at a problem from one side and don’t consider everyone that can be affected. I have felt this since becoming a dad – I appreciate there are more options available to me, such as Shared Parental Leave.
Also since coming back to work, my life has changed dramatically – things don’t carry on as before. It was difficult surviving on 1-2 hours’ sleep and my ability to stay late in the office was limited. It not only had an impact on my work but also the team’s work and the service we could deliver to clients. Fortunately I have been able to explain this to the team members I work with and we are taking steps to increase the support provided to all expectant parents and their associated teams. I see Mazars as a firm that is really taking this on board and truly wanting to be more inclusive.
Therefore, to be truly inclusive, organisations should make sure they keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Being able to talk to your colleagues is really important.
Thank you to Martin for taking the time to speak to us. We will be publishing more #WeAreMazars interviews over the coming months so stay tuned!