Newly promoted equity partners at Southampton-based Vail Williams, Mike Greenwood and Russell Miller explained to Alison Tilley how a career leap is achieved with a cool head and a bit of passion.
“My perfect day at work would be landing the largest investment transaction in the Solent patch – because we all love doing deals,” says Miller.
“Winning a new client is really exciting. They take so long to convert; you don’t have one meeting and suddenly come out with a job. We’re targeting the best quality clients; it takes time to develop these relationships.”
It was time well spent with Selwood, a UK-wide plant and pump hire business based in Hampshire.
“We targeted them,” admits Miller. “They were exactly the kind of company we wanted to work for. We knew nothing about them other than where they were. It was a cold start and it took a few months to get the meeting.”
The hard work paid off this spring when Vail Williams was nominated for the Commercial Property Consultancy Best Client Service Award by its client – Selwood Group.
Joining the company after graduating, Miller has had 15 years to understand what makes it tick.
“I’ve been involved in many different parts of the business; fee-earning and valuation and then ending up on the more transactional side, in investment.
“The promotion is a big psychological change. Now I’m part of the decision making. We’re planning 10 years in advance. Being able to have an influence is very exciting.”
For Greenwood the excitement comes chiefly from nurturing the bright young things. With Vail Williams since 2010, his new role brings him great satisfaction.
“A young member of staff joined us recently. She hadn’t been getting the training she needed in her previous job. Within six months with us she’d got her qualification and was really happy. We’ll see dividends because there’s loyalty from her and she can now focus and start generating income for the business.”
It’s not all sunshine, though. Managing the challenges is just as important for both partners.
“You get knock-backs, especially in business development,” says Miller. “You’re not going to win everything you go for. Being able to learn from your failures is really important.”
Staff issues are the challenging end for Greenwood.
“You can’t always give everybody what they want and there are some difficult conversations on occasion. It’s about getting everyone in the right direction but not pushing too hard – keeping the vibe in the right place.”
And sometimes it’s hard not to take it personally.
“If someone’s not performing and you can turn them around that’s brilliant. The flipside is if you’ve got someone who’s performing well and they up and leave – that’s really disappointing. It’s like taking a brick out of a wall.”
Greenwood’s perfect day is all about staff.
“Happy people, having successes, winning new contacts. Also being able to report to the board that the growth plans we’ve promised are on track. A glass of bubbly in the office to celebrate – or we’ll go to the pub after work if it’s been really good.”
‘Downtime’ for both can be quite exhausting. Miller lives in Horton Heath with his wife, two children, a springer spaniel called Max and a hamster called Lola.
“I like to go cycling; I’ve got myself some Lycra. And I seem to have been roped in to my son’s football team as coach. I love it. I can pretend I’m good at football.”
Greenwood is a bit of petrol-head. There’s not much time to indulge when home life, in Bishop’s Waltham, revolves around his wife, a five-year-old daughter and three-year-old twin sons.
“I’m a big fan of motorsport. The best client day I’ve had was at Palmer Sport in Bedford. I got to drive race cars. Turns out I’m not very good but it was a lot of fun.”