Take a look at this interview from The Herald with Angela Mitchell, the first female senior partner appointed at ScotlandIS member Deloitte.
As the new leader of accountancy giant Deloitte in Scotland, there is no shortage of big priorities demanding the attention of Angela Mitchell. However, instilling confidence in female colleagues is clearly a cause close to her heart.
Ms Mitchell, who has worked for Deloitte for 25 years, became the firm’s first female senior partner for Scotland when she succeeded Steve Williams in June. Having studied for an MSc in business information technology systems, Ms Mitchell was at one stage “used to being the only woman in the room”.
Things have progressed since then, not least at Deloitte, where more than 50 per cent of her own team are female. However, there is still work to be done.
Ms Mitchell, who is “delighted” to be the first woman to hold the senior partner role for Deloitte in Scotland, said: “I do think I bring a different perspective to the role. I am generalising of course, but I do think supporting other women to come through, which I have always tried to do, is really important.”
Within that, encouraging colleagues to be “authentic” and “not be someone you are not” are hugely important.
“I just think that gives a lot of women confidence as they are developing their own careers,” Ms Mitchell said. “One of the things I always tell women in my team is to be kind yourself.”
Ms Mitchell said it was also important for women to realise they can take on more senior roles as they balance work and family life. One of the reasons differences on gender pay persist, she notes, is because of differing levels of seniority between men and women.
“It is giving women confidence to think they can take on new challenges,” she said.
Ms Mitchell has assumed the top job at Deloitte at a time of acute economic crisis. We speak the day before Ofgem on Friday announced its latest rise in the energy price cap, heightening fears over how households will cope with massive increases in energy bills this winter. Worry over energy costs is also being felt profoundly in the business community, which is also facing huge increases in other overheads, such as raw materials, pay and recruitment.
Deloitte’s latest Consumer Tracker, published this month, showed consumer confidence had fallen by 4% in the second quarter. That took it to a historical low of -20%, below the previous record set in the fourth quarter of 2020, when Covid restrictions were in place.
However, when asked to comment on the prevailing sentiment among Deloitte’s clients, Ms Mitchell said firms were proving to be “resilient”.
“While finances have edged towards more defensive balance sheet strategies, they haven’t yet battened down the hatches,” she said. “Risk appetite is only slightly below average levels, well above the lows we saw in the financial crisis, the EU referendum or during the pandemic.
“I think businesses remain optimistic. They remain convinced growth and resilience will only come through increased spending on digital technology and the skills to use it.
“The Bank of England and other forecasters are predicting we are going to fall into a recession later this year and that business confidence is likely to be hit. But business growth isn’t dependent solely on the ups and downs of the economic cycle; it can be driven by other factors.”
These could include re-organisation of work, application of new technologies and investment to improve productivity and staff retention. “So I am positive about the prospects to improve productivity,” Ms Mitchell said, “and I think we will see increased investment in tools and digital technology.”
She also highlighted the growing awareness of the link between public health and the health of the economy, which is “crucial to recovery and growth” and increasingly featuring in discussions with clients.
Meanwhile, Ms Mitchell said the deals market “remains strong” in Scotland, despite the cost of borrowing rising as base rates are increased. Businesses north of the Border continue to be seen as offering good value to investors such as private equity players from the UK and overseas, she said. Trade buyers from around the US and Europe are also targeting opportunities in Scotland, which she said highlights the quality of independent businesses operating in the Scottish market.
After a series of major Scottish businesses were acquired in recent months, with deals including the sale of Stagecoach to German infrastructure giant DWS, Ms Mitchell acknowledged widely held concerns that Scotland finds it hard to hold on to its most successful companies.
But she was encouraged to see the Scottish National Investment Bank link up with The Hunter Foundation to introduce an advanced iteration of the ScaleupScotland programme. It will aim to get more companies beyond the start-up stage and into the realms of turning over £100 million.
“Initiatives like that are fabulous because we do need to support our businesses get to bigger stages,” Ms Mitchell said. “It would be nice to see more Scottish scale-ups staying in Scotland.”
Source: The Herald