How to Thrive in Business: Livery Academy Awards 2021

4 November 2021

The competition is now well underway, with just over three weeks until the Livery Academy Awards event at the Company. In a neat twist, our teams aren't the only ones being put through their paces. Here, our students have grilled the judges of the 2021 competition on how to thrive in business.

What makes a successful business?

Success is a very subjective term and can mean many things to many people. Making money is obvious place to start but there are other factors. Having a pipeline of work into the future, having a sustainable growth plan of demand. In addition, there is success in keeping employees engaged, developed and happy so they continue on the journey. It is expensive to recruit and train so successful companies must look to retain and promote.

How do you think businesses could and should be greener?

This is a very broad question and will be different company to company. But small things are usually the areas to focus on. Do emails need to be printed out, do meetings need to be attended in person, do people need to be travelling. Answer these questions in relation to the company and that starts to help. Sometimes the answers are yes. Sometimes, they are no.

Is there something you wish you could've changed when you were younger?

This is a good question. I am pleased with how my career has panned out so far. There is a way still to go. But I spent several years abroad learning about the working environment all over the world. This is something I am pleased I had the opportunity to do and I would recommend that. I dont necessarily feel that my degree has been terribly helpful, but certainly, having qualifications has been useful and I would, I think, have carried on studying (whilst working) for a bit longer to get more formal qualifications under my belt. I would probably have also put more effort into networking with Headhunters. I think people knowing about you and developing a relationship with you will be helpful later on. I have next to no ties into the headhunting world and I would like that to have been different.

What was the biggest yet most important mistake you made in your career?

Tim Vallings: Mistakes are part and parcel of a career and you have to be brave to make decisions and sometimes they will be wrong. No-one has a crystal ball and I don't think that having regrets is helpful. Personality-wise, I think it is advisable to be fair, honest, decent and to treat people with respect. Sometimes tough decisions are needed, but if you do it with integrity, then you should not need to have regrets!

What is something you wish was taught in schools but isn't?

I don't know whether it is done now, but general life skills would have been helpful for business (tricks and being able to understand spreadsheets. Also: acronyms - EBITDA, TCV, AAR etc. so helpful!).

Was there a time where you were not satisfied with your occupation or the direction your business was heading?

Tim Vallings: I have certainly moved roles from time to time and I think reinventing yourself from time to time is a good idea. If you are not happy, then you must take ownership about doing something to resolve that. It is not everyone else's responsibility to look after you.

What is the most important step in starting a successful business?

Personally, surrounding yourself with people better than yourself. Find the right people to do the right things, manage them well, have a good idea which fills a demand or need in the market. Just because you think it is a good idea, doesn't mean anyone will buy it so do your research. And then be prepared to put in the hard yards!

How do you keep finding motivation to constantly improve after achieving different goals time after time?

Tim Vallings: Don't take things too seriously. Have a bit of fun. Be a good person. Work hard. Don't overcomplicate things. If they work, celebrate; if they don't, go again. There is always something else to do!

The night is free to attend for all members and guests. Come along and celebrate the best and brightest talent from our schools; meet those supporting the teams, from mentors, to teachers and judges and wider City networks. RSVP here.

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