Wednesday, 12 February 2020 10:01

100th Life at AAB Blog

100th Life at AAB Blog

This week we are celebrating our 100th Life at AAB blog! To mark the occasion, we thought it was quite fitting to catch up with the boss. We last heard from Graeme Allan back in 2018 when we asked him some questions about his career to date, his role at AAB and life outside of work, so we thought we'd continue the theme again in this blog.

It has been a busy few years for AAB, what have been some of the biggest changes and achievements you have experienced?

The obvious one would be the focus on geographic expansion for the firm. In Edinburgh it has been fantastic to see the team 'on the ground' there grow from 4 to 45 in such a short space of time. This geographic expansion also includes the opening of our London office and our ever increasing reach internationally as we continue to support our clients across the globe. 

Entering well developed markets will always be a challenge so it was critical to attract top talent to the business as we expanded and I think we have done well!

We have invested in all divisions across the group but also added some new ones like AAB Consulting. This was a new start business launched in early 2018 and is already competing with some of the 'big hitters' in the consultancy space across the UK.

It has been a really exciting time, and there's lots more to come!

It was announced earlier this week that the firm is introducing two new Managing Partner roles as of 1 April, what does that mean for you in your new role as Chief Executive?

It's fantastic and great to have everyone so engaged with the changes we're making. Having Managing Partners in each of the offices as we expand the business will allow me to focus all of my efforts on driving the business in a strategic direction knowing that each of our locations has someone at the top there to support the leadership on a day to day basis.

Has AAB's growth and your changing role made you realise any new skills/passions/outlooks within yourself?

It is a good thing that one of my passions is travel as I seem to be doing a lot of that at the moment! I hate to think how many hotel nights I had last year as I was away from Aberdeen at some point every week apart from three, everywhere from Dumfries to Honolulu!

As AAB celebrates its 30th year of business, and your 13th year at the firm, what is your happiest AAB memory?

Oh there are so many over the last thirteen years. I suspect it would be somewhere in the events that we've held whether that be Christmas or the other parties or even, dare I say it, the away days. I had the opportunity to look back at some of the old photos recently and there are some brilliant memories. No-one will be able to say that I don't fully participate!

I am looking forward to what is an exciting year ahead as we mark our 30th anniversary in true AAB style!

If you could choose anyone, who would be your fantasy board members and why?

That is such an unfair question! I have been lucky to work with some very talented people in my career and have learnt a lot along the way thanks to them. I would have to say that whilst I'm not necessarily the finger pointing 'You're Fired!' kind of leader, I'd love to have someone like Lord Sugar on the Board for his straight talking and entrepreneurial flair. And you never know, I might get the chance to be in his Boardroom one day, we've certainly got the people to advise him in all aspects of his business (and a few Spurs fans!)

As well as the leadership team, what other changes have been happening internally at AAB?

You're kidding right? Nothing stays the same here for long. The evolution of the business and at times revolution of the business over the last thirty years has been phenomenal. More recently, we've developed training academies for new starts and school leavers alongside the graduate programs, we continue to drive the group forward under the #FirmofTheFuture tag to make sure we're at the front of the changes to the profession and to deliver the best advice and support to our international client base. We have also appointed new members of staff to the Trustee Board of AABi – the firm's charity which continues to donate a significant amount of grant funding and volunteer hours to lots of worthy causes...

This could take a while if I keep going!

What advice would you give the next generation of business leaders?

Do it your way, and keep it simple.

This is what I'd say to anyone asking for advice as well as our team internally as we continue to develop and drive forward the future leaders of our business.

What five words would your friends/colleagues use to describe you?

Well, here's what I can actually say in a response to that question...

They'd likely say that I am driven, dedicated and reliable. I'd also say I'm pretty approachable (I'd like to think I'm easy to talk to), and of course fun!

I'm sure there would be a few other suggestions thrown in here but, let's not get into that!

In all seriousness, I'd like to think that anyone who knows me whether it be a colleague, friend, client or contact would use these sorts of words to describe me.

In your last blog you were hoping to have been down a black ski run by the end of 2018 – did you manage?

Not by the end of 2018 but I had by Easter 2019. I followed my 11 year old daughter Zara down the run – so I didn't really have a choice! It's rubbish being the worst skier in the family.

Name one thing you are hoping to have tried or completed by the end of 2020.

Well I'll be 50 in the early part of 2021 (I know, I don't look it right?) and my plan has been to go into my 50's fitter than when I entered my 40's so I'll hopefully be there or almost there by the end of the year. Watch out for me in the first half of the Manchester marathon (I'm doing the first of two legs) and then the Balmoral 10K both in April and you can give me some feedback on my progress.

By Graeme Allan, Chief Executive