27 October 2016
Well known and respected through Coventry and Warwickshire, Phil Ewing has helped lead his firm, Harrison Beale & Owen, through a sustained period of consistent growth, contributed to the local area and served Coventry & Warwickshire First itself, including a year as chair of the organization. He was a very worthy winner of the category of Business Services Professional of the Year.
We asked him about the win and what it’s meant to him since.
“I was shocked when I won,” said Phil. “I had been shortlisted previously and not won so I didn’t get my hopes up. I was just thrilled to have been nominated, particularly since it was by people I work with outside the firm. Winning on the night added extra gloss to an already wonderful experience.
“The aftermath has been incredibly positive too. I’ve had plenty of congratulations and support, which is lovely.”
You originally trained as an accountant. What brought you to the point at which you won the business services category?
“Two things. First I went on The Business Growth Programme at Warwick University in the late 1990s. It brought me together with a group of business people, none of whom were accountants.
“Combining theory and practical coaching and development, the programme was incredibly developmental. My eyes were opened to the excitement and potential of the role of business adviser.
“Quickly after completing the Business Growth Programme I got involved in an Accountants Boot Camp. Its purpose was to move the accountant from score keeper to business adviser and I came to see and appreciate the breadth of my skills.
“Afterwards, I sat down with my partners and we agreed a new strategy for growth for the business, designed to transform it. Our practice is now much larger and our offer to clients is high value and much more varied. We now offer a holistic approach to a business, serving the owners and their families as well as the organization itself.”
What is your proudest achievement in the workplace?
“I think it has to be helping my clients succeed, in the knowledge that success means different things to different people. For some it’s simply cover the wage bill and for others it’s selling out for millions.
“I also love helping businesses turn around. I remember one client in particular with whom I had to be very tough. But after some blunt conversations and the development of a plan to re-navigate the business they’ve turned from loss making to generating profits in excess of £500K per annum.
“When I look internally and assess what we have achieved here I’m also incredibly proud. We’ve transformed our business and have a great team on board.”
Where next for you?
“I want to continue working for the success of our clients, helping them develop and explore global opportunities where appropriate. The world is a small place, perhaps more so now than ever with Brexit hovering in the background.
“I’ve just helped a client to buy a business in Malaysia re-inforcing that perspective.”
Speaking of Brexit, what’s your view of the local economy?
“At the moment, things are looking good. Jaguar Land Rover is an incredible success story and is continuing to invest, even if its success does bring challenges like the pull on skills. The councils are also working hard to attract investment and we have a diverse economic base. All in all, I’m optimistic.”
You’re an active contributor to Coventry and Warwickshire. Tell us a little more.
“I’ve always been a member of organisations that give something back. I started in Rotaract, moved on to the Round Table and then joined the board of the Heart of England Community Foundation. I’m now a trustee.
“The Heart of England Community Foundation really embodies what I think is best about community engagement. We gather money from all sorts of different sources and then give it out in small chunks to community groups, who in turn translate a little into a lot. The average grant is around £1,500 and we reached 112,000 people in the 12 months to March 2016! We’re hoping to reach even more in the next year ”
What do you do to unwind?
“I love sport, even if I am more of an armchair player. Any shape or size of ball works for me and I really enjoyed the Summer of Sport, packed with the Olympics and Paralympics.”
And the last word …
“I’m a very proud of this area; my main office base is in Coventry and my home is in Warwickshire. I loved being part of Coventry & Warwickshire First’s board and advocating on behalf of the region. I’ve gained a lot from active participation and I would say to others, get involved and make sure your voice is heard!”