‘East Anglia is rich with opportunities’ – Peter Harrup talks about the region, opportunities and his role as head of BDO in East Anglia

Peter Harrup is a familiar face at BDO. It’s unsurprising, he’s been a tax partner at the firm since 2013 when he moved over to the company following its merger with PKF – a business he joined in 1994.

However, it’s not just familiarity that makes him a natural choice to take charge of BDO in East Anglia. It’s his presence, his approachability, and the manner in which he chooses to lead people – a team he greatly values.

“The biggest thing that makes BDO a success is the fact we have a brilliant set of people who are great at what they do,” explains Peter. “Getting the best out of the team is down to trust – trust that they’ll do the right thing. It’s also about flexibility and support, and ultimately helping them to get the most of out their career.”

It’s his love of people that makes wellbeing and reframing how they work such a focal point of Peter’s role as Head of BDO in East Anglia.

“Like many businesses, we’re going through interesting times at the moment trying to understand what agile working actually means,” admits Peter. “It’s something that transcends all levels, from senior people through to trainees as well as something that impacts our clients.”

From this understanding, the concept of BDO: WORKABLE has emerged – which has been developed as the firm’s approach to making work, work for everyone at BDO

It allows people to work in a way and from a location that enables them to be at their most productive. BDO is providing a range of tools and support to help people stay connected but also learn, collaborate and support one another and clients when they’re working apart. The firm is investing an extra £10 million each year over the next three years to continually improve agile working. This includes investing in new digital tools and working with the London Business School to ensure people have access to the training they need to use them most effectively.

Heading up East Anglia

Peter’s role is very much centred on making agile working a success and engaging his team in new ways of working. “When I passed my exams all those years ago, I never imagined I’d be involved on projects such as WORKABLE, embedding ideas such as agile working, and dealing with a multitude of operational issues,” admits Peter.

But it’s a role he’s embracing and he’s surrounding himself with like-minded people who are just as enthusiastic about making it work.

“I like people around me who get things done and when there’s a problem immediately think, ‘what’s the solution?’”

Alongside his leadership duties, Peter continues to play an instrumental role as tax partner and relishes the opportunity to exercise a bit of critical thinking and problem solving for the benefits of clients.

Week in, week out

Ask anyone what a typical working week is like and most people will say that there isn’t one. Peter is no different. His role is vast and varied, and can stretch from winning new business, ensuring the team is delivering against goals and expectations, to engaging with managers and directors about what solutions teams are coming up with and how to manage any associated risks.

One aspect of the job which he really enjoys is speaking with more junior members of the team and checking in to ensure they’re happy and fulfilled. “They are our advisers of the future,” Peter explains. “I’m hoping they will stay with us for many years and build a successful career at BDO.”

An industry perspective

From a general business point of view, Peter sympathises with the challenges of finding the right talent and skills to build a future workforce – one that is well-balanced when it comes to home and work life.

“Our bi-monthly Rethinking the Economy survey continually shows us that finding employees with the right skills is one of the greatest challenges facing East Anglia businesses at the moment. In fact, according to the latest data, nearly a quarter of mid-sized businesses placed this as their number one concern.

Looking closer to home, there are other factors that are specifically impacting the accountancy sector, with an increased focus by the regulator. Peter says: “This is something that is without a doubt the biggest single thing affecting the accountancy sector at the present time.”

East Anglia is rich with opportunity

Challenges aside, there are plenty of opportunities – both for the firm and the region. “When you look at East Anglia, we have a vast array of diverse and strong businesses, together with a group of ambitious entrepreneurs,” says Peter. “That combination naturally creates opportunities, not just for us as a business, but for the region as a whole.”

With the wealth of knowledge that exists within the East Anglia team, as well as the ability to tap into wider BDO networks, both in the UK and globally, there is great potential from Peter’s perspective.

“We’re very good at keeping up with the latest changes and truly adding value to businesses in the region, helping them to get to where they want to be,” he says. “We’re really interested in growing, entrepreneurial businesses and we’re very lucky in East Anglia to work alongside such a cross section of companies across a broad range of sectors.”

Whether it’s working alongside ambitious clients, or equally ambitious people, Peter admits that he loves what he does, making him the ideal person for the lead role at BDO in East Anglia.

“I’m happy to just get things sorted,” says Peter. “If I can do that and free up other people’s time to win new business and carry out client work then that’s absolutely fine with me.” And that’s exactly what he is doing, and doing it very well.


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