Meet the MD: Barry Fraser, Grant Thornton

Meet the MD: Barry Fraser, Grant Thornton

The seventh largest professional services firm in the world, Grant Thornton are working at scale supporting other businesses as they scale-up too. Aberdeen office MD Barry Fraser fills us in.

What is it the company does?

Grant Thornton is a leading international professional services firm providing a full range of accounting, tax and advisory services to support dynamic businesses and build a vibrant economy.  We have over 40,000 people working in over 130 countries around the world and have a network of over 20 offices across the UK.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words

As managing director in the Aberdeen office, which opened last year, I am responsible for building the team and delivering exceptional service to our expanding client base across all our service lines.  I also advise clients on strategy and helping them prepare for, complete and make a success of transactions.
We have a strong focus on industry sectors at Grant Thornton and I take a lead role in developing our international oil & gas sector.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I grew up working in my family motor trade and property businesses and always wanted to eventually build a career in business. After university, I joined EY as an audit trainee in Aberdeen in 1992 and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1995.

I enjoyed understanding company strategies and growth plans and, after a year long secondment to the Technology, Oil & Gas Team at Scottish Enterprise, I moved into EY’s corporate finance team in 1997.

The private equity market was exploding in the late 90’s and I moved to London to work in EY’s private equity team for 5 years in 1999.  I had great experience and fun advising clients on private equity deals with the highlight being a merger involving the James Bond film makers, Pinewood Studios and an MBO of their special effects business.

The opportunity arose to come back to Scotland and lead EY’s corporate finance team in the Central Belt of Scotland in 2004 where I spent 4 years before returning to Aberdeen to lead the Oil & Gas Transactions Team.

I was attracted by the dynamic environment and focus on growth businesses at Grant Thornton and I joined the Aberdeen office in January of this year.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Enthusiasm, persistence, ability to listen, to set a vision and motivate others then anticipate the need to change.

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Finding the people with the right attitude and ambition to disrupt the local market for accounting, tax and advisory services while helping our clients and community grow amid the backdrop of a challenged oil and gas sector.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Enjoying time with my 6 year old twins, wife and friends helps me relax.  I also love sport and try to run, play squash or go to the gym as often as I can as well as coaching kids’ football and rugby.

Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?

I dislike beauracracy with no purpose and also people hiding behind e mail – it’s good to talk!

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Have faith and go for it, then when you fall down – learn from it and get back up stronger. I wish someone had told me that time flies, and you shouldn't let it pass you by.