At Equilibrium, we are lucky to work alongside people who have had long and successful careers. Many of our clients have interesting stories to share and wisdom to impart - whether that's about business or about successfully saving and building an investment portfolio.
We're delighted to have been given the chance to interview Bryan Bodek, former CEO of Airline Services and former vice chairman of Manchester City FC (among numerous other board-level roles).
Mr Bodek tells us about his career, his biggest challenges, his motivations and his tips on how to make it in the world of business.
Tell us a bit about your career background…
I began my career as a corporate lawyer in London, at a firm called Berwin Leighton. I was really lucky to have been put forward by the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Liverpool - where I was studying - for the role, and went on to spend six years in the City.
I then decided to move back up to Manchester, where I started working for Kuits, specialising in corporate finance. I eventually became Managing Partner. Along the way, I met a client who was an aircraft engineer, and we started discussing the possibilities of him starting an airline services business. The company was called Airline Services, and in 2000 - after 20 years at Kuits - I was asked to come and run the company, which I did until early 2014.
I have held - and still do hold - a number of other roles. I was vice chairman of Manchester City FC for nine years, as well as chairman, and then vice chairman, of the Medical House PLC. I was also vice chairman of Henshaws Society for Blind People for ten years. Today I am chairman of Novabiotics Ltd, a director of Aquarium Software Limited as well as vice chairman of The University of Manchester spin-out vehicle UMI3. The aim of the spin-out vehicle is to maximise returns whilst meeting the equally important social objective of creating products and services that can improve society and wellbeing generally. We do this by advising and assisting the various faculties with further funding rounds and eventually facilitate a change of controlling shareholding into the private sector.
What motivated you to start earning and saving money?
My father had a heart attack when I was 12 affecting his ability to work, in the days before open heart surgery. That made me realise from an early age that if I wanted to get anywhere, I had to do it for myself.
What excited you most about getting into the world of work?
I thought - and have since found that it is the case - that it would give me a chance to be both creative and strategic, which really appealed to me. Still to this day I love the fact that you can have an idea, implement it, and then see the results.
The switch to Airline Services was a big leap in your career - how did this come about?
I liked the idea of going into business, but I didn't actually leave the legal sector until I was 47. It was difficult to make the leap when I had a young family, and it's difficult when you're in one profession to think you can gain the same level of expertise in another industry. It's only when you make the jump that you realise it's possible.
I also didn't want to get to the end of my career and have regrets. I actually didn't see it as a big risk, as I still had my qualifications as a lawyer that I could fall back on.
What are your top tips for the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders?
You have to have a passion for what you're doing at work.
You need to do everything as part of a strategy. It's really important to properly analyse the markets you're in and tie it all together in a strategy, rather than just creating a series of one-off events.
All markets can be improved - it's all about doing the research and seeing where the opportunity lies. Innovation is really important - approach things from a slightly different angle and try and meet unmet needs. That's a far better strategy than competing solely on price.
Who or what has inspired you most in your life?
My great uncle - he was kind of the head of our family and was a great influence on me. From an early age he involved me in his business and showed me how it worked. It was great to have a mentor like that.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Today I get motivated by different things, but it is really important to get satisfaction from what you're doing. For example, at NovaBiotics I get excited helping the company to create novel methods of dealing with certain health issues. I also enjoy taking on projects where I get to look at businesses and help come up with an approach to market that needs addressing. Having the right strategy creates value. Having the right people around you also makes a big difference. An experienced team can usually do a lot better than any one individual.
What do you consider the biggest success in your career?
I was named UK Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 (Business to Business) for my work with Airline Services.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
In 2009 I was asked by investors to step in as acting chairman of NovaBiotics, which was stuck in the doldrums at the time. However, the company has now achieved a signature licensing deal for its lead product with a major pharmaceutical company based in the US, and it also has its second product in clinical trials with very exciting products in the pipeline. Last month Woodford Investment Management took an investment stake in Novabiotics which validates the progress we have made.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Two things: I've always had a sport, and I've always had a charity.
With sport, it gives you a chance to think about nothing but the sport, and really switch off. Charity, on the other hand, takes you into another world and reminds you what's really important in life.
What item could you not live without?
My iPad - I've had it since it first came out and used it every day since.
What advice would you give to others hoping to save for the future?
It is very important to make provisions for pensions and eventually some investments. Here's my tip: always get good advice. I've always felt that, even though I'm a corporate lawyer I could never properly deal with financial services.
As a relatively new client to Equilibrium, how does the service differ from your past experience?
I've received a lot of good advice from Equilibrium so far and I've been very impressed with the service.
To find out how Equilibrium could help you make the most of your assets, visit the Our Services section.