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continued on page 38
able to gain a lead into a community
that had been relatively untouched by
the insolvency community.
It’s certainly broadened my knowledge
of the differing players in the
orchestra, if you like. If I need to put
a team together, whether that be
more of an operationally biased team
or more of a private equity biased
team or a distressed investing team
to help me in certain situations,
then I now feel that I have greater
access to those communities.
Another valuable thing was the sharing
of knowledge as well. Just getting
another stakeholder’s perspective on
how they might look at a situation
just makes me a better all-round
practitioner because I have a greater
insight into the other players’ worlds.
Q Who inspires you professionally or personally?
Professionally, in the
restructuring market in the U.K., people
like David Lovett, who was formerly of
Arthur Andersen, inspire me. He was
probably one of the first insolvency
practitioners that I knew of who moved
to debtor-side in the early 1990s, when
many insolvency practitioners were
still remaining creditor-side. Many
have remained creditor-side
throughout. David was pretty
inspirational in that sense. He truly
was a poacher turned gamekeeper.
Sir Harvey Jones was inspirational.
Another was Stephen Taylor, who
I had the pleasure of working
with when I was with Coopers
& Lybrand in the early ‘90s.
Personally, I guess it would have to
be somebody like Richard Branson. I
love his entrepreneurial enthusiasm,
and he continues to be a very good
people person. Steve Jobs, in terms
of what he did with Apple, is another
guy that I find truly inspiring.
Q What have been some of your favorite engagements?
A couple of
assignments spring to mind, neither of
them particularly notable in the greater
world of restructuring, turnaround, and
insolvency. But for me, one of the most
gratifying was a business called
Cooper Aerial Surveys, which was a
tiny owner-managed business.
The backdrop to this is that Cooper
Aerial Surveys was managed and
owned by Jenny and Gerry Cooper.
Gerry was the pilot, and Jenny
kept a check on the finances.
But they had been distracted by
family health issues. In particular,
Jenny, understandably, had been
distracted because her daughter
had been diagnosed with cancer.
They came to me after a couple of years
of intensively caring for their daughter,
which had left their business’s finances
in a poor state. I suppose I had a
greater affinity there to try to help
Jenny and Gerry and the wider family
in terms of trying to keep the show on
the road in order for them to earn a
living to pay for some of the treatment
they needed for their daughter.
We reached out to their principal
customers for some additional funding,
which we were instrumental in
securing. As a consequence, we were
able to keep the show on the road, or at
least the aircraft flying! We got so close
to failing that we had, in fact, filed for
the notice of intention to appoint an
administrator. I was able to keep it out
of administration, although I have to