Q+A with Stuart Preston CA
Stuart Preston gives an overview of his role as a Partner and Head of Restructuring at Grant Thornton.
When did you qualify as a CA and who did you train with?
I trained with Deloitte and was admitted to membership in November 1999.
What have been the key points in your career?
Qualifying as a CA, passing my JIEB exams, getting my insolvency licence and promotion to partner were all key points in my career.
However, identifying an opportunity to re-establish Grant Thornton’s presence in the forensic market, and then making that happen, was a genuine highlight and demonstrates the importance of always being on the lookout for opportunities, and always being cognisant of the need to evolve.
What does your job involve?
From a restructuring perspective, working with distressed businesses and their stakeholders with a view to returning them to a position of financial strength and, when this is not possible, working to ensure maximum return to creditors (typically via an insolvency process).
From a forensic perspective, providing expert opinion, giving evidence in court and undertaking investigations, typically when a fraud or some form of misrepresentation has taken place.
Who do you report to?
Andrew Howie, Managing Partner for Scotland.
How would you sell the appeal of a career in restructuring and forensic work?
Every day is different: the unpredictability of what we deal with keeps it interesting. It also presents the opportunity to get under the skin of a business, to work with management and/or other stakeholders to identify issues and to help implement change.
What’s the best thing about your job?
There are a number of great things about my job, but it’s always the people that can make or break any job: I have a terrific team, and I am fortunate to have developed a strong network of clients and intermediaries who I thoroughly enjoy working with.
…And the worst?
When there is no alternative but to pursue an insolvency: the discussions that this requires are never easy.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Professionally: my promotion to partner. Personally: family, always family.
How’s your work/life balance?
My family are my number one priority, and so it’s important that I make it home as often as possible to spend time with them and to support the kids’ activities and education. Sometimes that’s easier said than done during the working week!
How has your training as a CA helped prepare you for this role?
It’s been a long time since I commenced (and completed) my CA training. I trained in audit and I firmly believe that this provided me with the best possible understanding of what makes businesses work.
Having developed a sound understanding of the critical systems and controls that lie behind the best companies helps me in identifying the issues that lie beneath some of the distressed/under-performing businesses that I now deal with on a regular basis.
What single piece of advice would you give for a CA looking to pursue this career route?
Work hard and throw everything at it, but always make sure you are looking for ways to expand your skill set so that you remain relevant to the changing needs of the market and/or your employer.