In the course of his career, Sean has gained the following experience:
- built The Albatross Group from £3m in sales to over £30m
- led and delivered the transition of the The Albatross Group from owner management to successful second and third generation management
- undertaken two private sector management buyouts – once as purchaser and once as vendor
- started, bought and sold multiple businesses from within the organisations he has led
- established and led not-for-profit organisations (Charity and CIC)
- supported businesses that have been facing particularly challenging times
- led the expansion of a small local charity in Kent to become the largest Kent-based voluntary organisation.
- with colleagues, successfully transformed Investors in People to be financially self-financing, removing the need for continued public subsidy. Also successfully negotiated the transition of Investors in People out of public ownership into a new social enterprise vehicle.
- successfully played a role in shaping and influencing key elements of Government policy and UK employer actions related to skills, employment and management & leadership issues through active membership of various advisory, independent and professional bodies
- participated in actively managing investment funds ranging from £3m to £750m
Sean has led and managed a range of businesses over his 30 year career including The Albatross Group, a business that he took over from its founders when it employed just 13 people and had sales of just over £3m. He subsequently led Albatross for nearly 20 years, buying it himself through a management buyout in 2008. He steered the business successfully through times of both danger and opportunity whilst building a strong team around him.
That management team has, in turn, recently bought Albatross from Sean meaning that it is now in third generation ownership. This has allowed Albatross to continue giving great career opportunities to its 130-strong team in four countries. At the time of sale, Albatross was generating annual sales of over £30m combined with sector-beating profits.
Sean’s journey with Albatross and his other roles has given him direct and extensive experience of working with a large number of owner managers. He has also gained a deep insight into how tough it can be to successfully break out of an owner managed model and hand over some or all of your business to someone else to build or manage with – or for – you.
Success, failure, tears, tantrums, frustration and joy – Sean has seen it all. Through his experiences he has built an unshakable belief in the power of simplicity and purpose supported by strong, clear leadership and a well-managed, talented team. These are the keys to building a great business that will last.
In particular, for those that choose to start building a team to help them manage their business business owners ride an emotional roller coaster as they gradually let go of some or all of ‘their baby’. This is an area that is frequently underestimated or ignored but which invariably has a huge impact on the ultimate success of the transition – and the business.
Through The Growth Adviser, Sean wants to help other business owners by sharing his personal experiences. Having learned so much from both his successes and failures – and probably more from his mistakes and failures than anything else – he believes that he can help other business owners make better choices and avoid some of the pitfalls that he inevitably succumbed to.
Over his career, Sean has also built up an extensive network of contacts and experience through a variety of other positions. These include commercial, charitable and public sector roles. This allows him to bring a broad range of insight and understanding to a variety of situations.
He continues to serve as a non-executive director at Albatross, offering ongoing support and advice to its leadership team. His commitment and belief in the power of great people management is underlined by his role as Deputy Chair of Investors in People.
Sean has also been asked to provide extensive advice to multiple government departments and their ministers. This advice has focused primarily on a range of business and skills related issues through his appointment as:
- Deputy Chair and member of the national Small Business Council (2004 – 2007)
- Member of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Leadership & Management (2006 – 2007)
- UK Commissioner for Employment & Skills (2011 – 2017)
He is particularly passionate about investing in and building leadership and management capability in smaller businesses. He is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute and a Fellow of The Royal Society.He is also a Fellow of The Institute of Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise & Entrepreneurs.
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