From Chairman and CEO to CRO, I Specialise in Interim Management for Private Equity, Venture Capital and Asset-backed firms. Sometimes it’s to plug short-term skills gaps. More often, it’s to support management teams in Navigating Choppy Waters and implementing a Value Retention Plan.
Chairman, Interim and Operational Advisor to Private Equity, Venture Capital and Asset-backed firms.
It was 1992; after more than a decade of operational duties, I had left my life as a Senior Royal Marine Commando 2 years prior and was working as an internal leadership coach for a large motor dealer group in the UK. I had plenty of front-line operational leadership experience working in highly hostile “competitive” environments but little business experience. That was all about to change.
My leadership and team coaching had a direct positive effect on people’s morale and the business’s performance, so much so that my boss, after several very experienced senior people had failed, decided I was to take direct responsibility for the turnaround of a multi £m division of the business. Time to step up, stop talking, and start doing.
Operational duties have taught me; a more complex environment demands more Leadership, not less. If a void in Leadership exists, morale can quickly deteriorate, and a team can become distracted by Leadership that is not necessarily the type of Leadership you require.
By clearly identifying the mission, focusing on crucial success levers and Motivating my team, my approach succeeded where others had failed.
My approach then, as it is to this day, can best be summarised as Mission Focused and People Oriented.
Mission Focused and People Oriented.
My approach then, as it is to this day, is a simple proposition, identify the mission, focus on crucial success levers, and motivate the team to deliver results.
Over the coming years, I was to lead businesses across several industries and sectors and personally grow a business through acquisition from £15m to £150m; I led the purchase of 10 companies across 20 locations and the divestment of several companies.
Fast forward to 2014, positioned as one of Yorkshire Business Insider’s Power 100 and a Fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry. I received a call from a friend who was the CEO of a private equity firm. “We have invested in several businesses we are trying to take to the next level, and you’ve been there and done that. Will you provide operational support and top cover for some of our investments?” I took my friend up on his offer.
In that time, I led several businesses’ operational restructuring and improved their performance in various consumer-facing sectors, including leisure, lifestyle, hospitality, automotive, insurance, and specialist online retail.
I have helped stakeholders reduce their financial exposure and stabilise distressed companies. I raised some £35m of investment on the public markets and £20m from private investors.
“We come across many non executives as a private equity investor and many make little impact. We have used Trevor on a number of occasions where we want to see results. He delivers in navigating difficult managerial issues and focuses the team on what really counts.”Ian CurrieManaging Partner - Seneca Partners
“My team consists of some very bright, highly intelligent individuals, but I was struggling to get them all focused upon a joint Mission. I had seen some of the results which Trev was achieving in similar businesses and so approached him. He ran several team events for me over six months, focusing my team’s minds on our mission, attending regular performance reviews and strategy sessions. We had great success with this approach and resulted in a much more aligned and accountable leadership team with clear KPIs. Critically this resulted in a significant profit improvement across the participating business units. If you want to get your team focused upon a joint mission, I highly recommend you consider using Trev to support you.”Mike LinterGlobal Head of Private Enterprise, Tax and Legal Services UK - KPMG
“Trevor came strongly recommended by a former colleague. Harwood parachuted him in to a business in which the leadership team, previously reporting to family owners for >40 years, were struggling to adapt and move at the pace required by an institutional investor, whilst dealing with a softness in demand arising from the 2022-3 UK cost of living crisis. Trevor’s deep operational skill set and strong people management capabilities resulted in him identifying the root cause of multiple internal challenges (poor control of direct and indirect costs coupled with lack of focus on working capital and cash management) and draw up a short term plan – which the whole management team supported – to deliver an improvement in near term results. Trevor identified weaknesses in the leadership team and has proved very helpful, by way of example, in sourcing a very experienced Interim CFO to strengthen financial control. His deft political radar and firm leadership also helped extinguish quickly any game playing / manoeuvring by an incumbent team member. Trevor is a strong communicator – it was a pleasure working with him and he kept us updated on progress at every stage. We have no hesitation in recommending you seek Trevor’s leadership and support with any change management / turnaround project – indeed, he’s now considered Harwood’s ‘go-to’ operator for this work across the whole group portfolio.”Jerry WilsonPartner - Harwood Private Capital
“I first met Trev when he was running his Leadership School. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was about his approach, a relaxed intensity, but I knew I wanted him on my team. That gut instinct paid off. We worked and played hard for the following 15 years, growing the company to be one of the UK’s largest motor dealer groups in the UK. Trev played an essential part and was a cornerstone of the senior management team.”Simon DixonFounder - Rockar.com
“I have known and worked with Trevor for 5 years. I have nothing but admiration for him. His ability to think through problems logically and break down complex issues into manageable bite sizes / steps is excellent. He has lots of energy and commitment which when combined with the aforementioned attributes makes him an excellent leader of a team or teams to take on the most difficult issues. His honesty and probity are undoubted and his would be amongst the first names on my dream management team-sheet.”Geoff BroomheadPrivate Equity Investor & Business Angel
“During my time as UK Head of Regional Restructuring at KPMG, I worked with Trev on completing a CVA of a publicly listed company in the UK; this was an complex and challenging project. From the outset, I was impressed with his motivation for taking such a challenging route; he wanted the best for all parties. Despite being pressed by certain parties to take an easier path favourable to them. He delivered an outstanding result in the face of enormous complexity and uncertainty. Resilient, reliable and straight, you want him on your side.”Mark FirminManaging Director - Alvarez and Marsal Europe
“I have nothing but positives to say about Trevor. So professional, hard-working and great support to me not just business-wise but also on a personal level. Honest, reliable and trustworthy, a true gent and I am very lucky to spend time with and know people like Trevor. I know Trevor because we asked him to come in and rescue a business that was in a totally perilous position. Lots of people talk the talk, but Trevor very much walks the walk! I would absolutely recommend Trevor.”James EdenPrivate Equity Investor - Eden Capital
“As CEO of Discover Trevor faced one of the most challenging business environments imaginable. With volumes down c.30% from their peak and huge strategic challenges Trevor's commitment to the business and his staff was relentless. He is a very effective leader and motivator of people with excellent communication skills. He positively welcomes constructive debate and new ideas and his 'can-do' attitude in the face of adversity is an attribute that any Board would embrace”James HaywardPartner - Boss LLP
“It has been a real pleasure first of all meeting Trevor and secondly engaging and working with him. For an ex military man he is surprisingly empathetic and perceptive. He is also practical and down to earth and seems to be able to get to the nub of an issue pretty quickly. He doesn’t let you off either, you have to show engagement and action and he will hold you to account. If you can persuade him to coach you, and he is selective, then you have done yourself and your business a favour.”Stephen WaudGroup Chief Executive - Business Enterprise Fund
“I have worked with Trevor on several occasions for over 17 years. His flair for developing sound and commercially viable strategies, sometimes visionary; will make a significant difference to any business, commercial success and the development of those within the company. He’s an excellent communicator and motivator. When you work with him, you will know that he doesn’t panic and can lead and give sound advice under pressure and in adverse situations.”Simon TennysonPrivate Equity Investor
“Trevor is a hugely experienced and impressive leader, who has that scarce ingredient of being able to be very focussed on his own goals (and be most persuasive) whilst also mindful of others views and needs. Has the courage to be challenging but always a pleasure to deal with.”Peter CottleSenior Director - Bank of Scotland Corporate
“As a banking professional with over 22 years of experience, it is refreshing to work with a senior executive who knows what they want from bank facilities and what us bankers require to deliver that. Motivated, direct, and without any edge, Trevor laid out what was needed, enabling us to establish a comfortable working relationship quickly.”Andrew RussellRegional Director - Santander Corporate Banking
“It’s a rare opportunity to be able to work with a business advisor who knows what it is to be an MD or CEO. Trevor knows what its like to be accountable for sales, for cash flow and for peoples lives and careers. He’s passionate about people really being the best they can be. Straightforward, honest, direct, he’ll always raise the bar on you and challenge you to perform at a higher level.”Tim OrmrodManaging Director - Splash Access
“I have worked with Trevor for at least 15 years as a solicitor specialising in Employment Law. During that time, I have assisted him whilst he has been in a variety of roles in different organisations – across several different industry sectors. Notwithstanding that, on each occasion Trevor was in the position where the ‘buck stopped’ with him and he was having to make difficult decisions which had real life implications for real people working in those organisations. I do, of course, provide such advice to all manner of employers at different levels and in different areas of industry and Trevor I find is not one to ever lose sight of what those decisions are going to mean for people. He is also, I should say, not someone who simply seeks to have his already firmly-held decision rubber stamped or to have me simply put a legal gloss on a course of action already decided upon. He takes the time to listen and is always interested not just to know the legalities but also my experience of other such scenarios. I think to his credit he always addresses matters with an open mind – even though I know sometimes he is under the sort of pressure that many find difficult to deal with. I would also add, insofar as it is relevant or otherwise, that I have always enjoyed my dealings with him.”Ted FlanniganDirector - Gosschalks Solicitors
“I have worked with Trevor for over three years now, and he has helped me in several positive ways during that time. First and foremost, Trevor always takes the time to understand the business, what makes it work, the business’s key metrics, and what we can do to improve them. He immerses himself, identifying what is critical and will make the company a better version of itself. He has an outstanding balance between challenging me and encouraging me. Sometimes I haven’t always agreed with his challenges. Still, we have always found a way to understand each others point of view constructively, and this level of challenge has ultimately had a positive impact on the business. Trevor is continuously raising the performance bar, using his knowledge and experience to create a growth culture and drive up performance. From a personal viewpoint, and most importantly, Trevor has given me belief in myself (something that I sometimes struggle with). Ultimately, this belief in me has helped me lead the business to the growth we have seen over the past three years.”Tom HortonManaging Director - The Insurance Surgery
“Trevor came and spoke at the Networking lunch we held just after the East Yorkshire Business Expo last year. He spoke to around 50 business delegates from a variety of business backgrounds. He gave a very interesting and enlightening talk about his career, highlighting pitfalls and problems and then finding solutions. Everyone who attended commented on the quality of the content he delivered, the manner in which he delivered it and most importantly, that he was an all round genuine 'nice' guy. We would have no hesitation in recommending his services in the future. Thank you Trevor for a job well done!”Jane GoughDirector - Dalton Spire Ltd
“Trevor's approach to our request and requirements is exactly what we need. His in-depth knowledge and experience combined with his inspiring and challenging style has already started to produce results. We will certainly be using his services going forward and would strongly recommend him to anyone intending to grow their business.”Rory ChisholmDirector - High Performance Development