Tuesday, June 26, 2012 | Posted by: Grant Thornton
Categories: China , Interviews | Tags: Grant Thornton, China, property, growth, UK, insight, interview, retail, strategy, staff, Meet our experts, profile, Q&A, Real Estate, assurance, Simon Bevan, business services
Fresh from a business sabbatical in Asia, where he is a visiting professor at Xiamen University, Fujian province in China, Simon Bevan talks about his time in Asia, his work and what growth-seeking companies should be thinking about right now.
What’s your job title?
I’m an assurance partner in Grant Thornton’s London audit practice, specialising in advising growing privately owned businesses.
- Auditing their financial statements.
- Ensuring they get what they need from the Grant Thornton network.
- Anticipating what help they might need next.
I am currently helping a number of UK retailers and brand-owners to access the Chinese consumer market, working with a China-based logistics and online platform.
A typical day involves…
I always walk to work, with the iPod on… Once I get to work, every day is unique.
Your biggest project so far…
For seven years, I advised a patent renewals business on its strategy, liaising with management and stakeholders, as the firm transformed itself from an anachronistic partnership to the world’s dominant player, operating in every country on the globe.
The best thing about your work…
I love the variety that the profession offers – different clients, different challenges – which allows me to draw on previous experience of solving similar problems. My chief aim is to ‘learn while I earn’.
Describe a pivotal career moment…
After 30 years working in one firm in London, I took a nine-month sabbatical to explore Asia. I based myself in China to learn about doing business in the region and to establish a commercial network there.
The last thing a client asked you…
A UK property developer has asked for assistance accessing funding from family offices in Asia. Having identified the right partner, we now need to help them negotiate a suitable deal for the first project.
What should companies be thinking about right now?
Asia is moving rapidly and radically from being the world’s factory to being a massive consumer market. Western businesses will face both challenges and opportunities from this shift – let alone the changes that are going to take place elsewhere, such as Africa.
Any burning ambitions?
My interest in China was ignited by meeting my amazing Chinese wife: I’d love one day to be able to speak Mandarin at least half as well as she can speak English.
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