Meet the MD: Rob Kendall

With 85 members of staff under his leadership, Rob Kendall is no stranger to working under pressure. He tells BQ how he found himself as managing director of Harrison Beale & Owen (HB&O).

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As managing director, I’m captain of the Harrison Beale & Owen (HB&O) ship. It is my responsibility to oversee the day-to-day operations of HB&O and HB&O Financial Services.
 
I manage a team of 85 people and take a hands-on approach within the business ensuring that the firm is delivering the highest quality service to clients.
 
What is it the company does?
Harrison Beale & Owen (HB&O) is a Coventry and Leamington-based firm of accountants and business advisors.
 
Our team of dedicated professionals are highly-skilled and experienced in offering a wide range of services including advising on all areas of setting up, growing and selling a business, we believe really are “more than just bean counters”.
 
HB&O Financial Services includes a team of independent financial advisers offering expertise in wealth management, financial planning, personal investment, pensions and protection advice.
 
What do you believe makes a great leader?
To be a great leader you have to be a good communicator. It is important that you respect your team and also understand the needs of your customers and clients.

I often refer to the ancient proverb ‘a fish rots from the head down’. A business structure is like a pyramid – poor leadership will filter down through the team and lead to poor performance. It is therefore important to foster a healthy culture and to have the respect of the team and the ability to inspire and them.
 
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The biggest challenge is managing a team of 85 people. I like to think of HB&O as double-decker bus. Once you have got all of the team on board you have to make sure they are in the right seats and are happy and motivated in their role. Our client care standards are set very high, reaching them is an ongoing challenge.
 
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
We are close to our clients and their concerns keep us awake at night so the pressure of the job never really leaves us. However a close family life outside of work and three grand children helps, as does playing golf with friends. I am also a huge fan of The Archers and find that listening to the programme while mowing the lawn really helps.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As unbelievable as it sounds, exactly what I am now. In my early teens, I thought about entering the legal sector but was put off by the fact that I would be restricted to working in the UK. I liked the idea that an accountant could work anywhere and that I would be able to help businesses and watch them grow. 
 
Any pet hates in the workplace?
Workplace politics and wearing a business suit with no tie. If you aren’t going to wear a tie, don’t wear a business suit!
 
Where do you see the company in five years time?
The aim would be to promote evolution not revolution. In five years time, HB&O will hopefully be doing more of what it is doing now and have a third office in the West Midlands.
 
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
The best advice is to listen. That’s why we have two ears and one mouth. It is also important to gain the respect of your TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More).

Where did you start your career?
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant when I was 22, which was then the earliest age possible and spent four years as an articled clerk at Thomson McLintock which later became part of KPMG. 
 
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
After leaving Thomson McLintock, I worked at Dafferns in Coventry as a senior accountant for four years before becoming manager of Thornton Baker, which became Grant Thornton.
 
Aged 30, and with a mortgage and two children under five, I joined Harrison Beale, which later became HB&O, to set up its Leamington office. The practice previously had one office with eight staff, based in Queen’s Road, Coventry.