Talking Shop

Talking Shop

Shaun Wills

What was your biggest career break?

Getting the chance to work on the project taking New Look into private equity hands gave me my first experience of working with PE houses, great exposure to the mechanics of a deal of that size, and the opportunity to work closely with and develop
a strong relationship with Phil Wrigley, our CEO at the time and one of the most well-respected retailers in the UK. The success of that project led to me being appointed to my first board role and was, in hindsight, a real springboard.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

A life coach once told me that many people who are promoted quickly, and accountants in particular, tend to cling on to what they knew and did well in their old role and work at a level that is generally below their current status. I looked around and realised he had a point and he advised me to try putting myself in the mind of my boss and his peers and try to think and behave in a way that showed that I was keen to work at their level. It wasn’t easy but the end result had a transformational effect on my style.

What’s your top interview tip?

It’s a cliché, but I absolutely believe you should be yourself. Celebrate your strengths but be open about your weaknesses. Potential employers are buying into your genuine skills and your personality and there is nothing more disappointing than finding out that someone presented a persona at the interview and cannot deliver some of the things promised.

What skills do you look for in new recruits?

Naturally in my field, I value intelligence, numeracy, reliability and honesty, together with strong commercial skills and the ability to work harmoniously across business units. Finance personnel can add real value to a business if the way they communicate and influence is effective. My pet hate is when finance people write a spreadsheet and email it without helping the recipients to understand and act upon the key data.

What’s your favourite wardrobe item?

Working in retail means I can adopt a fairly relaxed dress-style, so you’ll often find me in a pair of smart, dark Hugo Boss jeans. I’m not a label freak, but they are one of the few menswear brands that do ‘proper’ fits (short legs and generous waists!!!).

When I’m not working I like to…..

I’m an avid Bath and England rugby follower and more recently I’ve developed a passion for cycling. I got the bug after taking part in a charity ride from Weymouth to Paris. What started as 6 guys cycling for fun has turned into an annual charity event which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for our nominated charities. If you ever see a peleton of cyclists passing you by with one guy in the middle who really doesn’t look like he should be on a bike, that’s probably us…!