Financial Services

What do you do for a living?  

I provide financial advice on major public sector capital projects, such as new hospitals and schools. My job title is Assistant Director - Infrastructure Advisory

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

I worked for the NHS after doing my degree and got involved in big projects then as part of a wider job.  I found it a really interesting role and have been doing it pretty much ever since.  When I did my degree in Business Studies, we were offered six month placements in business/industry, and I did one of these in the health service, which is how I got into the NHS, and went back to work there after my degree was finished.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? 

After I started work in the NHS (down in England) I joined a training scheme where I was able to qualify as an accountant, funded by the NHS.  I then moved up to Edinburgh, still in the NHS and worked for the Scottish Government, where I was responsible for managing projects involving new health facilities - hospitals, health centres and the like.  I did that for a few years and then got asked by the big accounting firm Deloitte to work for them advising on projects, mostly those using the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).  I worked there for a few years and then was asked by another big firm, Ernst & Young, if I wanted to go and work for them, which I did and have been there now for 9 years.  I've never applied for a job or had a proper job interview in my life!

Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?

Most of the time, I'm hired by clients who want me to advise them on their project - this is usually a Council or part of the NHS and usually in Scotland, although I've done work in England, Ireland and Wales and Ernst & Young do a lot of work in my field in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Africa and the Middle East.  I'd usually help my clients by looking at different options, work out the cost of the project and apply for Government funding for it.  I then help them look for a private sector partner who'll design and build the new hospital/school for them, helping them specify what they want and then evaluating tenders that come in from private sector organisations who want to win the business and picking the winner.  The whole project can take several years to complete. Some of these projects are big - as much as half a billion pounds - and can be very complex.  At the moment, I'm helping on the project to build the new Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh and also on a new Hospital project for Dumfries.  I don't really have a typical day, but I might be in meetings with the public sector client, in negotiations with bidders or with the banks or other investors who want to fund the project, or writing business cases, tender documents or evaluating tenders.  I have a small team of four people who work for me on these projects, so some of the time I'm managing them.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do then - I sort of drifted into doing what I do now.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

I don't think they had any idea either. My dad was a bookmaker and Mum didn't work - anything but a bookie, I guess.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Go and speak to people - most people are very helpful and keen to talk about their work, so someone interested in a career doing what I do can easily find out more.  It's helpful to be good with numbers but not essential - I didn't do a Maths Higher, for example.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I could have stayed in the NHS or the Civil Service and become an NHS manager or worked in other parts of the Civil Service.  In Ernst & Young, other parts of the firm do all sorts of other work like auditing, advising on mergers and acquisitions, tax and other types of financial advice, which I could move into, but I like doing what I do now.