Brook Corporate Developments is excited to announce the appointment of Andrew Rowley as our New Business Development Manager.
After joining us we sat Andrew down for an interview to share his experience and views on our industry.
Q. How would you describe your career journey, and how it led you to your role with Brook Consulting?
At first glance, it might look like I’ve had a diverse career path. After leaving the education system, I spent 25 years at Yorkshire Bank, and initially believed I would be there for the rest of my career (although I eventually took redundancy from the firm).
As the bank went through a number of restructures, I had already begun to consider moving away from financial services altogether.
However, after a few months of being out of work, I accepted a role with another financial organisation and stayed there for six months, before moving into a different area of banking, working with high-net-worth individuals.
I then decided that I would move into executive recruitment, which I did for three years, before helping my wife set up her coaching and personal development business.
Once my wife’s business no longer required my involvement to the same degree, I began working within Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, offering business support and guidance and acting as a first point of contact, before moving to Brook Corporate Developments.
The experience I took from working across a variety of different sectors now enables me to perform my role here at Brook more effectively.
Q. Briefly describe a defining moment in your career.
One of the defining moments in my career was deciding that I didn’t have to stay in one sector for the rest of my life. Leaving education and going into the workplace, I thought I’d work for the bank for the rest of my life.
It was quite enlightening to see that you could take the skills that you’ve learned and use them in a different environment – and I think that’s what I’ve done so far. It was a real lightbulb moment.
Q. What motivated you to join Brook Corporate Developments?
Following on from the last question, working at Brook allows me to apply the learnings I have gathered during my career.
I love to help people, whether that’s individuals or a group of people such as a business, and working with Brook gives me that ability to work closely with individuals and organisations to give them the support that they need to move forward.
The biggest need for businesses that we work with is specialist knowledge and support, both of which business improvement consultants are able to provide them with.
We work with a lot of small to medium-sized companies, and while they understand what they need to do operationally, they don’t necessarily have the acumen or the specific skill set to start taking it to the next level. And that’s where we come in.
We also help businesses to secure funding towards the cost of the specialist knowledge being used.
Q. How to ensure that the work of your organisation is aligned with its values?
Brook’s values are to be open, honest and down-to-earth, and above all, to ensure that we serve the client’s needs so that the client is always at the centre of everything business Improvement Consultant does. We employ a team of people that make sure that we can always meet that ethos.
We’re very keen to actually spend time with the businesses that we work with, so we go out wherever possible to meet them.
Obviously in the current circumstances that’s restricted, but we hold Zoom meetings to ensure we’re still ‘face to face’ as much as possible, and that the business feels supported in what we’re trying to help them achieve.
Q. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?
Funding. Lots of businesses need support and are struggling in the current situation, and we are able to provide them with that specific specialist knowledge and support.
We also help them to secure funding towards what the organisation needs to pay out, in order to provide stability and allow them to grow and develop further.
Q. How important is business strategy and strategic development for businesses in 2021?
I think this is imperative. It’s important at any time, but following the last 12 months where businesses have been locked down, strategic development will be a particular necessity for any organisation.
It’s also critical to look after your people, because they’re key to being able to develop the strategy and move the business forward.
Without a strong strategic plan, many businesses won’t be able to overcome difficulties and continue to grow, or even to survive, in some cases.
Q. What would you say is the current status of business improvement consultancy projects within the industry right now?
For us, things are very buoyant, and we are as busy as we have ever been. I think the fact that we’ve adapted and changed to the circumstances has been particularly well received by businesses, and so they’re still keen to work with us.
There has been uncertainty from some organisations around having external people into their organisation, and so we’ve always made sure that we put something in place which the company feels comfortable with.
Q. What resources would you recommend to people looking for business improvement consultancy services right now?
People need to look for an expert and somebody that they trust. We always get to know the business that we’re working with, so that we understand not only them as an organisation, but also the sector they work in, and what they’re trying to achieve.
If we can demonstrate to them that we have that understanding, and that we care about what they’re trying to do, they begin to trust us.
Small businesses don’t tend to have the time to search for the support that’s out there, and that’s something that we can do for them.
They can contact a business improvement consultant with an issue or a problem, and we can quickly provide them with potential solutions.
All we ask from them is that they’re prepared to invest the time required to help us deliver what they need to move them forward and grow.
Q. What advice would you give to businesses who are balancing furlough and redundancies at the moment?
It’s a difficult situation, but the key thing is that the business has to survive. If it doesn’t, there won’t be jobs for people to return to once the pandemic is over.
It is a case of trying to achieve a balance, and that is where specialist knowledge comes in.
A business improvement specialist can go into a business, look at what the current situation is and what’s needed to move forward – and in some cases that might be that they have to furlough some of the staff.
Ultimately, if the business comes out the other side stronger, then that means that furloughed staff will come back to a business which has some longevity.
Q. What impact will this have on businesses developing and retaining future leaders within their organisations?
If it is done correctly, there’s no reason that there should be a negative effect. If a business comes out of the pandemic stronger, there will be opportunities for individuals within the organisation to grow and develop, both as individuals and within the business.
There are always going to be winners and losers through this situation, but the more that businesses seek out professional help to ensure they’re doing everything right and being as strong as they possibly can, the more both them and their workforce will come out of it in a positive position.
Q. What services that Brook Consult offer can benefit businesses facing lockdown and the challenges that 2021 will bring?
There are plenty of things that we offer that can help businesses, and much of what we do remains the same whether we’re in a pandemic or in the course of general business moving forward.
A number of the things that we deal with focus on business strategy, which is obviously key, whether we’re in a pandemic or whether we were just trying to grow and compete in a normal economic environment.
We also work with a lot of businesses on being ‘lean’ – in other words, streamlining the operations of the organisation, which is as crucial now as it’s ever been.
At present, a lot of businesses are struggling with delivering services or products, and so we can look at their sales and marketing strategy; not only to make the best of the situation now, but also to remain strong coming out of the pandemic.
We can also work with developing an organisation’s leadership team by improving their knowledge and skill sets to enable the business to grow and be stronger in the marketplace.
HR support is obviously crucial too, particularly when you’re dealing with furlough and bringing staff back into the workplace in a safe way – and this is something else business improvement consultant can help with.
In some cases we will also look at new markets or new ways of operating for a business if they need to adapt and change their current way of working, much like we’ve had to do ourselves to ensure that we can remain operational and competitive.