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Five minutes with... 22nd May 2023

Here we meet Guy Phillips, who has joined Workman as Finance Director to work with the Partners in implementing the firm’s business plan. He joins from Carlisle Support Services, where he was CFO, prior to which he was financial director at CBRE Managed Services.

What three words describe Workman?

Welcoming, professional, collaborative.

It’s only been a short time since you joined the firm, but what’s been your standout moment at Workman so far?

My first few weeks have been all about learning: about the business, its systems, the people, and goals for the future. I’m always happiest when learning new things and being part of an evolving workplace.

Tell us about your role as the new Finance Director at Workman, and why you feel this is important to the firm?

 As the firm has developed and expanded to more than 850 people over the past almost-40 years, some of the processes and systems that have historically served our needs, now require updating to deliver the goals of the business today and into the future. This will ensure we have constant access to insightful management information.

Driving efficiency and providing good management information that supports quick and incisive decision-making is a core skill for any finance director.

How do you plan to put your skills as a strategic Finance Director to their best use to develop the Workman business?

My focus currently is on: understanding the systems estate, identifying means of sharing data more efficiently, analysing the performance of each of the business streams so that the correct data is captured, and building a reporting structure to provide meaningful information to the management board.

What are your goals for Workman for 2023?

There are pressures in the global economy forcing the cost of living up and a global recession is still looming. Improving efficiency will enable the business to support our teams through these tough times, allowing the firm to continue growing, and creating opportunities for everyone to develop their careers.

What change would you make to the wider property sector? And why?

There are elements of the sector that put a huge emphasis on price, leading to suppliers cutting costs and bidding at ridiculous margins in order to win new work. They then cut service levels and recruit low quality staff to try and make a profit.

Conversely, high quality service, delivered by engaged and appropriately trained people, will generally provide a greater return in the long run. But that requires consumers to focus on more than just price.

What are your spare time pursuits and how do they feed into your role at Workman?

In my younger days I played a number of sports, but from my 20s onwards, I focused on golf. However, like many others, my weekends are now dominated by driving my two sons to sports fixtures (mainly hockey).

I still play golf when I get the chance, and I’ve met a huge number of people within the property industry through the sport. Developing contacts and being able to share the Workman name with a wider network will be a focus this year.

What first led you into the property industry?

Being a finance professional, the skills are fairly transferrable, but I joined a property maintenance and construction business twenty years ago and have been in the property sector ever since.

It’s the mix of the service industry, together with a tangible product that impacts everyone day to day that I enjoy.

What is your favourite building worldwide and why?

La Segrada Familia – a building that’s still being worked on 140 years after it started, and almost 100 years after the death of its designer, Antoni Gaudi, but with all the hallmarks of his work.

What book or podcast do you recommend?

The High Performance Podcast by Jake Humphreys. It’s a whole series of podcasts dedicated to interviews with high achievers in sport, business and performing arts, who share their motivations and how to be your best every day.