What it takes to become a partner in 2016

Every ambitious young professional should read this advice from MHA Maclntyre Hudson managing partner Rakesh Shaunak…

If you harbour ambitions to become a partner, you could do considerably worse than listen to Rakesh Shaunak, managing partner and group chairman of MHA Maclntyre Hudson.

As someone who became a senior manager aged 26 (at BDO) and made partner before his 30th birthday, he knows what it takes.

“The first thing ambitious young professionals need to do today is target the area they want to specialise in,” he told the BDLN. “Identify a sector and find out everything they can about it. Then, rather than focusing on accountancy issues, they should consider the business issues their sector faces. It’s critical to gain genuine business knowledge.

“Young professionals looking to make an impact must be able say to potential clients: ‘I’m confident that I can add value to your business and become your business partner.’ Offering a compliance-oriented service won’t cut it anymore. Clients today expect more. They expect their advisers to understand their business, not just the tax or accounting but the finer points, too: how it runs and market conditions.

“However, young people must understand that you have to be patient to reach this level. You have to work at it; it’s not a smooth ride. There are knocks along the way but you’ve got to accept them and see those as part of a learning exercise.”

So what attributes do ambitious young professionals need to fulfil their goals?

“I pride myself on being calm, collected and confident,” said Rakesh. “I believe a leader needs those characteristics. A leader is someone who portrays a vision and promises the delivery of that vision. Unless you’re calm and confident – and engender that confidence in others – you aren’t going to be able to deliver because you can’t take people with you.”

Delving into Rakesh’s early career provides further insights for want-to-be partners. Today MHA Maclntyre Hudson’s managing partner specialises in various sectors including further education and also oil and gas. The way in which he entered these sectors reveals drive, determination and, importantly, a nose for an opportunity.

“My interest in further education goes back to 1992,” said Rakesh. “Before then further education was controlled by the government. When that changed I realised a new market had opened up. I knew nothing about it but got stuck in. I took a few knocks but eventually won two clients through a bit of luck and perseverance. That soon opened more doors.

“Oil and gas was a similar story. A few years ago the then Department of Trade and Industry launched a scheme where it sent consultants into small businesses. Through that I was introduced to a company in Wandsworth that traded oil in barrels and had grown to become a £150m business. I went in, did some work with the owners and hit it off. They felt I added value to their business. My oil and gas specialism sprang from that.

“You’ve got to spot the opportunities and then take them.”

Rakesh Shaunak is someone who has been able to spot opportunities and grasp them throughout his career. Some would say he has an uncanny knack for it. However, his clear advice for ambitious young professionals shows it’s less about knack and more about hard work, drive, focus and the ability to push your own personal boundaries.



Rakesh Shaunak is managing partner and group chairman of MHA Maclntyre Hudson.