What do you do in your role?
In my role as MD of Aztec, I oversee a local team of just under 30 staff, as well as being part of the Aztec Group Board which spans four jurisdictions and has an over-arching executive of five, bolstered further by a non-executive chairman and two non-executive directors (NEDs).
The Aztec Group offers fund administration services to promoters of closed-ended alternative investment structures, wishing to use the Channel Islands, Luxembourg or the UK as their jurisdiction of choice. My role in Guernsey is to ensure that Aztec delivers a consistently high-quality level of service to our broad range of clients through a knowledgeable, stable and well-trained workforce.
Have you achieved all of your career goals?
I don’t think you can admit to having achieved all your career goals at any point in time, simply because they keep changing as you develop. What was important as a reasonably selfish 25-year-old – such as earning enough to buy that rather expensive Golf – is now a distant memory and new goals come along in the form of perhaps doing your bit for the community or reaping the benefits of investing in training and staff development.
I have achieved one important career goal though, and count myself extremely fortunate to have been able to do so. That was to be pretty much my own boss as part of an independent company which thrives on dynamism, entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to push forward the boundaries of what we do. Five years in, things are still going well and I love going to work in the morning (surely a career goal in itself?).
What makes Aztec a great company to work for?
Great staff, trusting and appreciative clients and a culture of staff empowerment and inclusion are just some of the things that make Aztec a great place to work. As a Channel Islands’-owned business with an executive of five, plus three highly experienced and, dare I say, not your usual run-of-the-mill NEDs, decision-making is quick, consensus-driven and usually right! Emphasis is on ‘group’, not jurisdiction.
Independence allows quirkiness and those readers who have been recipients of our chutney, chilli sauce, grass seed and chocolate campaigns (don’t ask) will testify as to how unusual our brand awareness initiatives can be.
Finally, and again somewhat unusually, we seem to have cracked that age-old nut known as the Guernsey/Jersey divide. Staff movement between the islands, cooperative working practices and a strong culture of collaboration have allowed us to forge tremendous links between not just the offices in the two islands, but also with our colleagues in Luxembourg and London. We meet twice a year as a company for Christmas and summer parties and this invitation extends to all 120 staff. All four jurisdictions’ personnel descend on Jersey in July and December and this gives a great opportunity to mix with our friends from overseas!
What is the greatest challenge facing you in your role today?
A client once told us: ‘If you could bottle the Aztec elixir and sell it, then you’d make a fortune’. A nice extolment, but the message is a clear one: keep doing what you are doing and maintain the balanced model as you grow.
As we approach staff numbers of nearly 30 in Guernsey, the ability to run the business as a start-up has now moved away and a more structured approach is required, which needs to link in at many levels, and quite rightly so, with the Aztec Group platform. The secret will be to manage each growth phase of the company as it travels through its life cycle to ensure that the stakeholders are not just happy with the service, but delighted.
How did the Aztec Soccer Academy come about?
Simple: supply and demand.
I realised that under-11 football was being well run by the clubs, but there was nobody catering for the best players at these age groups and bringing then together as one unit. Hence, Aztec Soccer Academy was created in 2009 and it’s been a big hit ever since. We sponsor the kit and the venues and all the administration is done centrally at Aztec, allowing my excellent group of coaches to go out and deliver high-quality sessions to the children without worrying about the logistics.
As a confessed football fanatic, it’s easy to be involved with something that you are passionate about and all our efforts are starting to pay dividends, with links to professional academies such as Southampton, Bournemouth and Brighton now being forged and trips taking place on a regular basis.
Watch this space for how we develop over the next year or two!
If you could entertain three dinner guests from any time in history (alive or dead) who would you choose?
I can still watch episodes of Fawlty Towers and the Python films for the umpteenth time and laugh uncontrollably.
Wouldn’t it be great to spend an evening with him?
How can someone achieve so much in his business life and still be regarded as one of the nicest people around? I’d like to ask him about his angrier moments, if he has any, and how he copes with them.
Because she seems very down to earth and a good laugh.