Resources / article / Meet the team: Director of Finance, Adam Sumner

Meet the team: Director of Finance, Adam Sumner

We are publishing a couple of interviews with the team over the next few weeks. You may have never spoken to us (you may not ever want to!) but thought we would give an insight into those manning the desks at Precise Consultants.

CV not to hand? No problem, send us an email or give our hydrographic expert Peter Thompson a call on +44 (0) 203 325 0630.

When you were five, did you think you’d be running your own company? If not – what did you think you’d be doing?

When I was 5, I thought I’d be a bannister. It was actually a barrister. It was what my friend’s dad was.

I really committed to that idea, and went all the way through to doing law at uni. It was the only thing I considered doing. I remember when I was 15 I read an article about people who set up businesses, how much work they had to do,  how hard it was and the obstacles they had to tackle. And I thought that’s too hard for me. But at the same time, I wished it was me. It wasn’t until I set up my first business that I remembered that, and it was pretty cool realising that I’d done it.

I just woke up one day and realised I didn’t want to work for someone else. I did law, became a corporate broker but I wasn’t happy. Then I started out on my own, set up a construction company and did that for some time until I met Pete and we launched Precise Consultants.

Were you destined for success when you were in school/university?

I always did well at school but only when exams turned up. I was a proper horror show. Until I was 13, parents’ evenings were the worst. I’d get dragged into the living room by my dad afterwards and get rinsed. But it was him who changed actually. He noticed a pattern that I always worked for my exams and got them– so from that moment on, he was ok. He just asked for me to make it a bit easier on him. At uni I was the same.

It’s totally different at Precise. It is 24/7 but it doesn’t feel like that because I love what I’m doing. I get to talk to interesting, smart people and travel instead of learning about weird legal precedent in contract law..

What led you here?

Pete. We met at a De La Soul concert on a beach and we became BFFs. It’s like the start of a story one day we’ll tell our grandchildren about.. The next week he emailed looking for a housemate; he decided to move to London and said, “You seem like fun.” Six months later we moved in together. He spent a lot of time off shore, for six weeks at a time but we would have a lot of fun when he was back as I worked from home. One day we were chatting, and an idea came up that if he ever wanted to think about setting up an agency, we should look at it. Six months later, the agency he worked for was bought over, and he decided he didn’t want to work for any of the others out there. He figured there was only one option – to set up an agency he would want to work for if he was a freelancer: that became Precise Consultants.

What challenge defines you?

The hardest thing was getting my ACA qualifications. It’s the hardest process I’ve ever been through. You work for three years and go to college intermittently to get qualified as a tax expert.

I remember very clearly my first day in an accounting module. I walked in and the teacher scribbled this stuff on a projector, told us to open the book at a page and said: “On you go.” Everyone – and I mean everyone – started writing. I put my hand up and said: “You have to explain it to me again.” She replied: “You just have to get on with it mate. Any problems come see me at the end of the day.”

It was brutal. At the end of the day we went out for a few beers and one guy tapped me on the shoulder. I didn’t know him but he thanked me. He said that he thought he was the only one who didn’t understand.

We became really good friends. The course was incredibly stressful. If you failed once you got kicked out. It happened a lot in my year. Happily we passed first time – the only people to do it too. He’s now got two restaurants in Burma and I’ve got my company in London. It’s pretty cool.

Who has inspired or supported you in your past?

My dad. He used to play for Wasps – he was this big rugby guy, and a big businessman but never forced me down a path to be like him. He supported everything I’ve ever done.

You’d think he’d be mad keen for me to excel at rugby. When I was in 6th form, I quit and started up a boys’ netball team. It was officially to help the girls team have another one to practice against but we got to hang out with girls in the leisure centre, keeping nice and dry when the guys who stuck with rugby got cold and bruised on the rugby pitch. We had a lot of fun – and he was cool with that.

I also did a ski season after uni – I didn’t just bum, I did become an instructor – but even when it looked like I was going to be a bum, he figured I’d do what was right for me in the end. After I experienced that, I came back and got qualified with Deloitte. It was exactly what I’d done throughout school – had a blast but knuckled down when I had to.

What did you want to achieve?

In business, I’ve still got a long way to go. Every meeting I sit in – either with clients or freelancers or internally discussing strategy with the team – the common theme is how we’re trying to move the industry forward. At our core we want to make it better for clients and freelancers. We do it by listening to people, finding out what is wrong and finding solutions. We get feedback from freelancers and give it to clients. We practise what we preach too – we do it with our teams too.

Pete is really trying to shake up the industry – he’s committed to supporting the idea of a modern competency scheme that actually works, with everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. He knows the importance of having people on the job who can do what they say they can, and he wants people to stay motivated and ambitious. Automation is always lurking in the background – keeping industry modernised is key.

Personally, I want to stay healthy and keep enjoying my work. And finish my tattoos. Just the bottom of my calves to go. I’m like a newspaper. The theme is always history. I’ve got images from the Wild West, World War II, early 20th century mobster life, Al Capone and that sort of stuff. The next period I’m going to get is the Vietnam War. However I’ve got to be careful. I have to make sure my mum still speaks to me. She hates them with a passion. So I won’t get everything done. My back hasn’t been tattooed. I like my back.

Name your top 3 things about PC.

  1. The team – that’s my absolute number one. I love the people I interact with daily in the team, and the freelancers and clients – they make my work very pleasurable.
  2. The positive feedback we get from freelancers. Clients too but for me, if the freelancers are happy the clients will be happy.
  3. The fact I get to travel with work.

What would your colleagues say is your best and most annoying habits?

Best: I am fun.

Worst: That I won’t shut up. I am too loud and tell the same jokes. Like until you say it’s not funny anymore. I think when you say it’s not funny anymore you have to punch through and keep going until it is funny again. People love that….