Working my way up the ladder – why I chose GE
Meet Will Abell, Director in the GE Transactions Services team! Will has been part of the team for six years now, beginning in a senior associate role before progressing through the ranks. But, what is most interesting about Will’s GE journey, is how it started.
What is your current role?
I’m a Director in the Transaction Services team. I joined Gerald Edelman about six years ago as a senior associate and progressed from there.
What do you enjoy most about your role/GE?
Definitely the variety of work. Our bread and butter is buy-side financial due diligence. However, we are involved in a whole host of other services such as IPO reporting accounting services, valuations, forensic accounting, financial modelling, management incentive schemes, debt financing, as well as many other things.
It’s not just the type of work that varies, but the type of clients too. Here at GE, we work with large listed companies, small owner-managed businesses, search funds, charities, private equity and everything in between – no two clients are the same.
It is this variety, both in terms of projects and clients, that makes my role constantly engaging, stimulating and rewarding.
Have you always wanted to work in transaction services? If not, what motivated you on to your current career path?
I started my career in audit. Whilst I enjoyed the role and found it gave me great experience, I always knew I wanted to be on the advisory side.
I have always had an interest in transactional work and the capital markets from my studies. My role within Transactions Services at GE gave me the opportunity to try a bit of everything, allowing me to find the work that I enjoyed the most.
Why did you choose GE?
Again, it all comes back to the variety of work. When I qualified, I was unsure of the path I wanted to take. When I was considering my options post qualification I was offered a position in the big 4 firm that I was already with. Ironically, the partner interviewing me gave me some advice that led me to choose GE. He encouraged me to gain as wide a range of experience in the early years of my career before I became too expensive to move. The irony was that the internal position I was offered would likely have been fairly narrow. GE, on the other hand, offered a great variety. I hoped the role at GE would provide much broader experience, enabling me to determine exactly the areas and projects that I enjoy working on, and where I was best suited – in the end, the decision was not a difficult one and, looking back, was absolutely the right one!
What do you enjoy most about working at GE?
Team culture is a big one. In our Transaction Services team, there’s a very strong team feel. In busy periods, we all club together and make sure we support each other to get the job done. Despite being a small team, we are a strong unit.
The small team size has also meant that I have been a vital part of every project that I’ve worked on since I joined the firm. At larger firms, I think it is possible to feel like a small cog in a large machine. At GE, my experience has been the total opposite. Not only has this been incredibly rewarding, but it has also undoubtedly sped up my progression.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
We are a relatively small team so when we take on a lot of projects at the same time it can be quite challenging. However, we have a fantastic team who always club together to ensure we that we always deliver for clients. Successfully navigating the busy periods also means that we can enjoy the quieter periods more!
Another challenge we often face is unique to our end of the market. Due to the size of transactions that we advise on (low to mid-sized), we regularly deal with target companies that have poor/inadequate accounting records and sellers (on the other side of deals) who are inexperienced with transactions and are often not professionally advised. This presents a number of challenges which can delay transactions and, in some situations, prevent deals from completing at all. That said, we now very used to dealing with such situations and enjoy the challenge of finding solutions to ensure transactions are completed.
What has been your biggest achievement?
There are too many to mention but one in particularly stands out. During an already busy time, we took on an expert witness project in respect of valuation required in a large litigation case, whilst also remaining busy with other projects. It required a quick turnaround of only a few weeks, which meant a lot of early starts and burning the midnight oil, but as a team we supported each other fully and got the job done and helped secure a fantastic result for our client!
It was an incredibly high-pressured project, but also the most rewarding when we got it done. It demonstrated exactly just how strong our small team is.
What are your goals for the future?
To keep growing the transactions services team! Since I joined GE, our team has tripled in size – I want to ensure that the speed of growth continues.
What advice would you give others that are seeking to pursue a career in transaction services?
Firstly, qualify as a chartered accountant. The ACA provided me with a fantastic starting point in my career and a great platform of knowledge and experience to build from. I would encourage everyone to try and seek experience with other departments, on projects which would not typically fall within your day-to-day job – you may stumble across types of work that you particularly enjoy but, if not, challenging yourself with unfamiliar work can be very rewarding. Finally, try and keep up to date with commercial news and updates, which will help broaden conversations with your clients.