After launching J9 Advisory a year ago, it's been a fairly busy year for MD Johnny Abraham. BQ caught up with him to see what it's like at the helm of the firm.
What is it you do?
I founded J9 Advisory in 2014 and I manage all areas of the business. I spend a lot of my time meeting with various different people, from clients, to people within other businesses who in turn enable us to deliver the solutions that we develop for our clients.
I also like to meet with all J9 clients personally and offer a very “hands on” approach. There are many businesses in the region and beyond who require assistance which we can provide, so marketing our services keeps me very busy indeed!
What is it the company does?
J9 Advisory is a specialist independent business advisory boutique, providing Business Finance, Rescue and Restructuring Services, together with Cashflow improvement and Business Asset Disposal services, to SME businesses across the North of England.
Through the services that we provide to Directors and their businesses, whether a business is healthy and growing or showing signs of distress, we assist them in maximising opportunities and value, giving them the best chance of success.
We are in effect Financial Trouble-Shooters for both healthy and struggling businesses.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Amongst a host of qualities required, I think a great leader has to have a genuine passion for helping people; especially within the sector that we operate in. Integrity also needs to be at the centre of everything you do. A positive attitude together with a real drive and energy to succeed also helps!
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The biggest challenge I currently have is finding enough time in a week! There is so much to do, and in the ever evolving and fast paced world that we are in, there is so much to learn every day!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I spend time with my wife and cat (who thinks he is a dog) who are both always on hand to keep me entertained after the stresses of a working day!
I have also recently re-joined the gym in an attempt to try and lose some unwanted chub, and this year, I have given a real go of improving my golfing skills. Most people would probably strongly question whether either of these initiatives are proving successful!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be in the music industry as a drummer or a guitarist! I got into playing the drums from a young age and later got into DJing. I do regularly sit and wonder…what if?
Any pet hates in the workplace?
Laziness and unhelpfulness, but probably most of all, I hate waffle…I like to get to the point!
Where do you see the company in five years time?
In five years time, I would like J9 Advisory to continue in success and have grown to a team of around 10 people and to be seen as a key “Go To” firm in the North, for the services that we provide.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I believe that your psychological state plays a big part in your ability to succeed in business. Stay positive and stay focused, and surround yourself with other business owners – The amount that you can learn from each other is phenomenal.
Where did you start your career?
I started my career straight after sitting my A-Levels when I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as part of their school leaver scheme where I trained in the Business Recovery Services team in Leeds, and completed the Accounting Technician (AAT) training.
I then went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant and became a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
However, before this, whilst still at school, I had a weekend job as a Sales Advisor at Comet from the age of 16.
I learnt a great amount in this time, from different styles of managers, to dealing customers from all walks of life spending anything from a few pounds to thousands of pounds.
Whilst my peers were collecting glasses in the local pub, I was selling consumer electrical good, together with insurance and finance products, with an incentive scheme that meant the harder I worked, the more I earned. This was great experience for me in many ways.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as a trainee at the age of 18 in 2001 straight after my A-Levels.
After Qualifying as a Charted Accountant, I joined Barclays Bank in 2008 as an Associate Director in their Asset Based Lending team.
The economy was turned on its head later that year and the country experienced unprecedented times financially in what was the beginning of the ‘banking crisis’.
During this time I learnt a lot about the Banks and their credit policies and operations etc. As there seemed to be no real scope of recovery in sight, I decided to go back to what I knew best and joined Begbies Traynor Group in January 2010, working predominantly with clients in the Asset Based Lending sector.
In mid - 2013 I was approached to joined Winterhill Largo Group as their Business Development Director for the North, however, having seen a gap in the market to assist businesses who were struggling amongst other things, to source the funding they required, I launched J9 Advisory in August 2014.
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