In this week's Leading the Way blog, we welcome two new employees, Michelle Giles and Peter Haywood, who share how previous careers in local authorities and across revenues and benefits will contribute to an exciting new chapter at the Bristow & Sutor Group.
First, over to Michelle…
I started my career as a Revenues Officer at Eastleigh Borough Council and progressed to Senior Revenues Officer. I then joined Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as a Senior Debt Recovery Officer, where I have spent the last 5 years of my career. During my almost 15 years working in a local authority environment, I achieved an IRRV Level 3 Diploma in Local Taxation, Benefits & Advice as well as completing both my HCEG Taking Control of Goods Level 2 and Level 3. Since the pandemic, I have been involved in the whole process of administering the COVID-19 business support grants to businesses.
I felt ready for a fresh challenge and was immediately attracted to the Client Development Manager role at Bristow & Sutor. The company has a great reputation in the industry for being fair and transparent, which speaking as a former client, is essential, as the best partners are those where what you see is what you get. I have the unique experience of working with the B&S Group from the ‘other side’ and always enjoyed it when our paths would cross. I took my certifications in 2019 so that I could better understand what Enforcement Agents face on a daily basis and this only made me appreciate the challenges involved even more.
Experience from both sides
A key strength of the Bristow & Sutor Group is the time they take to understand what clients need. This level of understanding helps them to overcome problems that others cannot. I always appreciated there was never a question as to why I needed something a certain way, just a smooth process and solution to my needs. In my new role as Client Development Manager, I will draw heavily on my previous experience and will add value to those that I work with as I truly understand the frustrations, processes and needs of those I will be speaking to.
Whilst you can show empathy for others, there is no substitute for first-hand experience and I am passionate about offering the kind of service that would have impressed me when I was the one engaging with enforcement firms. But I am also very excited to broaden my experience in new areas. It was very appealing to me that Debt Recovery Plus (DRP) and Credit Style also make up the Bristow & Sutor Group as dealing with things like Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) is a new area for me. The business has been great already at introducing me to other areas beyond my existing expertise and I am looking forward to attending Parkex in Birmingham this June.
And secondly, introducing Peter…
Since I left the army, where I previously served in a tank regiment for 6 years, I have gained 32 years of council, public and private sector experience and knowledge. This included working across four local authorities - Preston City Council, Kendal Town Council, Burnley Borough Council and South Ribble Borough Council. I was predominantly involved in housing benefits until 2004, when I transitioned to focus on revenues and benefits, until 2018 when I began working for a private-sector IT solutions company.
As a past president of the Lancashire arm of the IRRV (Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuations), I have built a solid understanding of the needs, obstacles and thoughts of all parties involved in this space. I remain very interested in the sector and I am an active member to this day. I believe in continuous learning and development and a few years ago, I was proud to complete an MBA.
The biggest appeal of my new role as Client Development Manager at the Bristow & Sutor Group is the opportunity to utilise my past experiences for the benefit of others. I have always enjoyed work focused on taxation practices and believe my knowledge and understanding of the intricacies in this area will assist councils in making the best-informed enforcement decisions they possibly can.
I relish the chance to help local authorities enhance and improve their figures and I see all the qualities needed in the team at Bristow & Sutor to make this a reality for anyone we engage with. One thing I cannot wait for is to get out meeting with people, as building a face-to-face rapport is a big part of my role and really helps drive performance. Engaging with clients and networking is something I enjoy and I am already excited to start meeting more colleagues, peers and clients at our upcoming conferences and events!