Interview with Peter Wood CA

Peter Woods, AllSaints, Fashion
By ICAS / Michelle Perry, CA Magazine

6 September 2019

Ahead of our Future Generation event on 11 September in London, we talked to our host, Peter Wood CA, about his career and the choices that led him to his role as CEO with AllSaints.

Peter Wood joined international fashion brand AllSaints in 2010 as Chief Financial Officer, moved to Chief Operating Officer, before taking the reins last year. Today the business he leads continues to grow with annual sales of £300 million and has a global team of 3,000+ employees across more than 20 countries. His career is a great example of where the CA qualification can lead to.

Peter studied maths and physics at Glasgow University. When he graduated, he won a Carnegie Trust PhD Research Scholarship and was offered PhD places at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, but he wasn’t convinced that he wanted to continue with a career in science.

After an opportune meeting at his graduation ceremony with a successful Scottish businessman who suggested a CA qualification would be a great way to start a career in business. Peter went on to train with Arthur Andersen, specialising in corporate finance.

What kept his interest in accountancy, he said, is the way as a CA you can help guide businesses and business owners to success. “What always attracts me to a new opportunity in my career is when I think ‘I like this person, I like their business and I think I can help them’,” he added.

Finding the right opportunity

AllSaints is not his first foray into a fashion business. Peter’s first job in business after he’d qualified as a CA was to become CFO of USC, which was then the UK’s leading multi-brand casual wear retailer and had been one of Peter’s clients at Arthur Andersen. It was a private equity-owned turnaround situation and the business achieved a successful exit after five years.

Peter explains his interest in fashion and retail as his need for a creative outlet. As well as having a passion for maths, he loves music and passed his Grade 8 piano exam just before he started university. He sees a strong correlation between the two, with the patterns and harmonies in music being similar to concepts he studied in maths.

For prospective and young CAs Peter’s advice is to find a role they’ll thrive in: "For me I have always looked for three things when considering whether a new opportunity is the right one for me: I need to feel an emotional connection with the business that I am going to spend so much time working in, I need to feel that the owner / my boss is someone I respect and who inspires me, and finally, I need to feel that I can help them.

“If you find these three things in one role I would say to you that you will have found a role you can thrive in, that allows you to be you, and allows you to bring to it the very best of you and do our profession proud."

The Future Generation

Peter will be hosting the Future Generation event at the historic surrounds of the RICS London office on Parliament Square, where we’ll be announcing the bright young stars of the future – this year’s One Young CA and the Top 100 young CAs category winners in technology, trust and talent.

"I am really looking forward to being part of this celebration of the talent that is going to help lead our profession into the next decade and beyond. Seeing the calibre of the individuals who have been in contention for these awards has been inspiring to me and really underlines how many young CAs are making a positive relevant contribution to many different businesses around the world", Peter said.

Don’t miss out on this chance to look to our bright future and celebrate the next generation of CAs in an evening of networking, insight and inspiration. Join us in London on 11 September as we present the prestigious One Young CA 2019 award and hear from the Top 100 Young CA category winners in Technology, Trust and Talent.

This article has been updated – you can find the original CA magazine article here

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