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‘My staff can do all the things that I can’t do’



Richard is big fan of Ulster Rugby and he also coaches mini-rugby

Richard is big fan of Ulster Rugby and he also coaches mini-rugby

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Richard is big fan of Ulster Rugby and he also coaches mini-rugby

Q&A: Richard Gillan

Q: What's the best piece of business (or life) advice you've ever been given? 

A: Challenge accepted norms (if only in your own mind).

Q: What piece of advice would you pass on to someone starting out in business?

A: Surround yourself with the best people. I have been fortunate enough to work with fantastic partners and staff, both in business and at Grant Thornton. Many of them have skills which are complementary to my own - in other words, they can do things that I can't.

Q: What was your best business decision?

A: Gaining experience outside professional practice - it has given me a different perspective and, hopefully, a little empathy with our clients.

Q: If you weren't doing this job, what would be your other career?

A: An actuary.

Q: What was your last holiday? Where are you going next?

A: Washington DC last weekend (a conference - so, technically, not a holiday, but it was close). Vilamoura during the summer.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: I enjoy all sports, but unfortunately leisure time is at a premium. I coach mini rugby at Bangor RFC (where my son Lewis plays).

Q: What is your favourite sport and team?

A: Ulster Rugby

Q: And have you ever played any sports?

A: I played rugby at school Instonians RFC and Bangor RFC. I also played golf at Bangor Golf Club but unfortunately that became unsustainable through work and family commitments. I was no great loss to Bangor Golf Club - if there is any golfer with a worse "short" game than my own, I have yet to have the misfortune of playing with them. I am right-handed, but putt left-handed - enough said.

Q: If you enjoy reading, can you recommend a book?

A: I only ever read autobiographies. My latest was Ian Poulter's No Limits - golf fans would enjoy it. I love his energy and passion, and he is a great team player.

Q: How would you describe your early life?

A: Long, sunny, summer days playing sport. I played rugby, football and cricket at the park or on the beach when I was at primary school. Then, as a young teenager, I remember often playing 45 holes of golf a day - 18 in the morning, 18 in the afternoon, and nine in the evening (and I still wasn't any good).

Q: How would you assess your time in business with Grant Thornton?

A: Hard work, brilliant fun, great clients, great people. Thanks to them, we have trebled revenues in the last three years. I love it.

Q: How do you sum up working in the sector?

A: Professional practice offers a highly rewarding career, working with like-minded individuals. The market is currently very buoyant and there is no reason to believe that that assessment will change in the foreseeable future.

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