Audit and Assurance Senior Manager, Tony Gillham, goes under the spotlight!

What is your role within RG?

I am a senior manager within the Audit and Assurance service line here at RG.  I look after a wide range of clients but have a particular focus on the infrastructure and renewables sector.

Tell me about your career to date…

After I graduated, I couldn’t quite prise myself away from University, so I stayed another year and did my MA.  It was really interesting and whilst I received offers to do my PhD, I ultimately decided that another 4 years of earning little to no money to read all day wasn’t a good idea…so I went to China for a month.  A few of my friends were becoming accountants at the time and so I put some applications in to firms, and I ended up receiving an offer from a firm in Edinburgh.  Being honest, I hadn’t been to Edinburgh since I was a child (and that was just a trip to the zoo) so moving there was a bit of an adventure.  I stayed with the firm for 4 years, learned a lot and worked with some great people.

When I qualified, I then moved to Baker Tilly and again worked with some really great people and learned a lot.  My wife then wanted to move back to Newcastle so I transferred down which was really easy and convenient.  I worked with some excellent clients during my time there but wanted to learn more and broaden my accounting and tax knowledge.

I was asked if I wanted to talk to RG and I’ve never looked back since.  In a few months I will have been here 2 years, and I can honestly say it has flown by. 

What does your current role involve?

I manage a portfolio of mostly infrastructure and renewables clients, along with a range of other corporates.  I answer their queries and make sure their deadlines are met.  Ultimately though as an audit senior manager, I review the audit files prepared by the team, work through any challenges, and then report into the relevant RI. 

I also take the lead in developing the firm’s social media platforms.  This has been a really interesting and varied addition to my role, but one I have very much enjoyed.

What makes RG different?

The variety and opportunity to get involved with almost anything is what I think makes RG different.  I would never have imagined that within 6 months of joining I would be working with corporate finance partner Carl Swansbury, on completing a corporate finance deal.  I learned a lot from that deal about what adds value to a company, and what doesn’t.  What I realised very quickly was that I was no longer just an auditor, and that I was expected to be an adviser.

There is a huge amount of constant learning here at RG, and I can honestly say that I’ve learnt more in my two years here than I did in my all of my career before joining.  I always remember a comment corporate finance partner Nick Johnson made soon after I arrived that you need to be a Jack of all trades, and a master of some, and it’s always stuck with me and something I continue to work towards.  I have learnt a huge amount from audit & assurance partner Grahame Maughan, whose wide knowledge on almost every accounting topic sets a very high standard for what an adviser should know.

Each partner and team member is so knowledgeable and the quality of the team here at RG blew me away when I first joined, and still does.  There are a lot of team members who have been here a long time, and a lot can be said about a business by how well it retains its staff.

My 3 most notable achievements to date would be….

  1. Since joining RG I’ve won a lot of work within the infrastructure and renewables sector, and I’m quite proud of that.
  2. I once cycled home from university which ended up being 235 miles. This involved an overnight stay in York. It was pretty tough going and I got lost rather a lot. Saved some money on the train fare though….
  3. I’m quite proud of being a chartered accountant, and especially passing all of the exams first time. It wasn’t easy, but I do get a sense of pride when I get asked what I do.

Tell us about your day so far….

I start my day typically around 8am.  I try to plan my day the night before so that I can hit the ground running straight away.  Today I reviewed an audit file for a biotech company who are very interesting and have had some exciting transactions during the year which presented an additional technical challenge.

I also spent time researching a prospective company who had approached me about potentially taking on their audit, accounts, and taxation services for them.  Later in the day I followed up with the prospect and found out more information and shortly after submitted a tender proposal and a quote.

I also then attended a call with a client who tax partner Simon Whiteside and I had been advising and assisting through an acquisition, and talked through some options with them as they work through their completion accounts.

I then finished the day clearing down my emails and planning my workload for the following day, and rejigging any priorities for the remainder of the week.  I tend to finish at 6pm and have dinner with the family, read some stories, and then put the children to bed.  After this I’ll go out for a cycle and get as far as I can before the sun sets, and then return and complete a few minor work tasks before heading to bed. 

What do you enjoy outside of work?

I have a very young family, and my wife and I welcomed our third child last month so my life outside of work revolves around them.  When not napping on weekends to catch up on sleep, I enjoy spending time with the children and taking them on adventures and bike rides, or to the many classes they attend.  I try to get out cycling or trail running when I can, and absolutely love exploring the Northumbrian countryside on my bike.  I’m very much looking forward to the day when my children will be able to join me in doing this.

And finally, leave us with one interesting fact about yourself…

When I was at university I started to learn Cantonese.  One of my friends was from China and in exchange for me reading his coursework and correcting his grammar, he would teach me Chinese.  My wife’s family are originally from Hong Kong and when we got married I did my wedding speech in Cantonese (somebody translated what I was saying into English for the non-Chinese speakers).  It was really tough going, and fortunately was understood by all.  There are 9 different tones in Cantonese so it was certainly a worry that only I would have understood the speech.

Regrettably, I’ve not kept up the learning, but as my children are growing they are learning bits so I do keep picking up new words or phrases.  My favourite phrase is ga-yow, which translates as “add oil” and simply means keep going.  Whenever times get hard I simply just say to myself, ga-yow. 

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