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December 22, 2020

Being a Team Player, taking lessons from sport, into business: David Heron Group CEO Wilton & Bain, Inspiring leadership interview with Jonathan Bowman-Perks

Podcast Details

Top Tip

Be decent to people, be humble & be decisive (get the order of events right)

David was appointed Group CEO of Wilton & Bain in May 2017, following a Group-wide MBO in partnership with Beechbrook Capital. Prior to this, David spent 20 years, building, leading & pioneering highly successful interim management businesses aligned to the Global Technology & Digital markets. He has been regularly quoted in leading media Forbes, Huffington Post, FT) for his opinions on the rise of interim management, gig economy and alternative consulting models.

In his youth, David was a passionate Rugby Player. We talked about his upbringing in “middle England”, through private education at Uppingham School, and how he has taken inspiration from his father’s success “against the odds”. An avid reader about leaders in sport, military and business, David is a life-long learner. Spoke on “mis-leaders and expiring leaders” – who suck the life out of you, and create “a not invented here” environment. Learnings from being a talented schoolboy rugby player, to the unforgiving environment of the Youth Team, at his beloved Leicester Tigers. Working as a team, to deliver a shared goal – Success is rarely about “one great man/woman”. The Management Buy Out (MBO) of his business.

David has learned how to balance the objectives of his Private Equity investors & shareholders, with the objectives of his team; it is a demanding place to be, but the demands are not unreasonable. Founders & Chairman – very clear from the outset, that they wanted to create and share wealth by building a business they could sell. Taking the “Founder” culture borne on the core values of “generosity and reciprocity” and building on that; making it systemic. A team of teams. Do the right thing; take accountability. Consequential value – building a strong business is about other people. That responsibility outweighs the contribution of any one individual. It is about driving value from the sum of the parts. Leaving a legacy better than you found.

David is building an inclusive business; with diverse thinking giving everyone a voice – He encourages ideas to come from all over the business especially from the quiet voice in the room, and has begun implementing the concept of reverse mentoring, in areas like technology, where people with less “experience” have much more knowledge, and are closer to the “action”. As often described in rugby, David wants Wilton & Bain to be a business “for all different shapes and sizes”. Wilton & Bain trebled in size from 30 to 100 over a period of 3 years. To keep growing, need to bring people along. Be consistent and reliable. Tip – be decent to people, be humble and be decisive (get the order of events right).

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