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Meet Ben, a former drama graduate turned associate in BDO's bustling National Business Support (NBS) team. His eclectic career path, woven with customer service and ethical recruitment, led him to the corporate embrace of BDO. Here, he found a platform to leverage his people skills and passion for service into a leadership role, managing a team dedicated to high-volume work and specialist tasks. Ben's story is a vivid illustration of how diverse experiences can converge into a fulfilling career in business support, where every day is a new act in the corporate theatre.

man looking at the camera, portrait style
Tell us about your background before joining BDO then Ben!

To be honest, it’s been a ride! My career has changed quite a bit, so get ready…

First, I finished university with a drama degree which meant my options were a bit linear at first. I think at that point I was still trying to figure out what I needed to know, what I wanted to do and what I could offer in terms of a career.

My background was always customer service which, as time went on, evolved into sales for repeat clients.

Eventually I wanted to move into the corporate world so I went to into recruitment for teachers – I felt like it was an ethically positive service which is a value I hold important to myself even now.

After that, I moved into care recruitment, providing carers to care homes and eventually into a not-for-profit organisation. Again, this was always with a view to upholding my personal beliefs and ethics in what I do.

I’ve moved around geographically and I wanted to reflect that professionally. With that in mind, I decided that recruitment wasn’t my key focus, so I shifted back into customer service in an insurance company.

It was a gateway back into more customer service-based roles and gave me the route into team leadership and management roles. I had transferrable skills from my time in recruitment but didn’t specifically want that to define my career going forward.

Towards the end of my time in insurance, I started to step into the management skillset but wanted to be in a more corporate environment to evolve further. I was looking for a place to take a chance on me, and BDO did that completely.

So how come you chose BDO and what makes you stay?

Well, BDO offered me the position of receptionist in Manchester which opened the door to a corporate career; that was what I always wanted and also enabled me to transfer the customer service skills I had into something more longer term.

In the 2 years I was in that role, I felt like I transformed the ways of working – being the front of that company was vital to client experience so juggling that with front office expectations was difficult but an amazing experience – it really was a varied role.

I might have been filing, scanning or printing one day and then way more the next – the scope of that role was particularly quite broad.

Being on reception was a great route for me to move on secondment to another role. That role would offer me the job opportunities that I wanted so I made the decision to take that role permanently.

From day 1 at BDO I’ve always felt valued as an individual, despite how large the company is. I always got the focus I needed and my career got the focus it needed as well.

I’m always keen to go beyond my remit and BDO has allowed and encouraged me to do that. That could be because there are different teams and if you want to dip your toe into one of them then BDO offers that.

You must have experienced some stereotypes being a male receptionist though?

I wanted to flip those stereotypes on their head and show how constrained they are. By being told certain things like “you should only answer the phone” showed me that there were opportunities to increase that value more.

I felt – and still feel – that the value of what a receptionist can offer is huge. Whilst there are front-of-house elements, there are still back-office activities as well (business support and plenty more).

For example, onboarding was a process which needed to be looked at. I wanted to ensure that welcoming someone to the business and welcoming them to the firm would be a lasting memory.

Ultimately, one of the things I wanted to show was that receptionists are more than just receptionists.

man dressed in ghostbusters outfit, looking at the camera, leaning against a wall
Talk us through your day-to-day role then.

So, now I’m an Associate in the Business Support Hub (part of the National Business Support Stream). We focus on high volume work, so that could be anything from assisting with initial drafts of engagement, digital folder set ups, large CMS data tasks and loads more.

I also manage my team’s workload, making sure that flow of activity and work are suitable to the team based on their workloads and priorities.

That means a LOT of stakeholder management as well!

Because I have people management responsibility, I set up and work on training for the wider team based on their needs. Again, that can be anything IT-related for technical skills and but also wider developmental requirements.

The good thing about our team set up is that we have direct points of contact with similar people in the wider stream. That gives us invaluable experience and knowledge to tap into.

Ultimately, I’m not a person with specific specialist skill set but I make sure things work properly with the team of specialists around me. I’m able to utilise the skills I have and have picked up through different careers in order to help my team.

And how do you explain that to people who know nothing about it?

I help manage an admin support workforce for a financial firm. We provide high volume data support and project support for the wider business.

What is it that excites you at BDO?

To be honest, I’m a believer that whilst systems will come and go, the experience of the people around me are what’s exciting. I want to feel enriched in what I do every day – either as part of a team but also leading as well.

My shift in priority is about how I help share my positive experience with the team and drive them forwards. Overnight, my world has become less selfish as a team manager, and that’s something which I find exciting as well.

That’s probably also applicable because I’ve recently become a parent. My whole emotional state has shifted and that idea of learning about myself and becoming less selfish is more apparent now than it ever was.

OK, but what’s the most difficult bit about working in your team?

The key challenge we face is wanting to take more work on in order to establish our growth. However, sometimes find we don’t have enough resource to do it. We want to grow the team and the work we do, but we need to get better at setting ourselves up for the future.

As a new people manager, the challenge is developing my understanding of situations as best I can, so I can offer a good service to the wider business but also great service to my team as their manager.

What do you do outside work to relax?

That has changed quite a bit since becoming a parent – after work my daughter is the main priority; whether that entails just being around or taking part in the things she loves.

The moment I stop being work Ben I start being dad Ben.

The flexible working environment has been hugely beneficial for me – it’s been vital for how I function inside and outside of work. Working from home is a huge part for me – my environment has to be well set up for my career, and my needs as a parent. Luckily, I’ve been offered whatever I need day-to-day to get on with that.

The other part of that is that having flexibility in what I do means I can offer that story to my team as well – if they can take advantage of it then I know I’ve done my job well to explain it.

Ben's role at BDO transcends the traditional boundaries of an associate. He's a people manager, a project juggler, and a mentor, all rolled into one. His commitment to flipping stereotypes and enhancing the value of reception and support roles has not only transformed his career but also enriched the experiences of his team and clients. As he navigates the challenges of resource management and team growth, Ben remains focused on sharing his positive journey and driving his team forward. With the arrival of parenthood, his life has gained a new dimension, adding depth to his role at BDO and beyond. Ben's tale is a reminder that with the right environment and opportunities, a career can be as dynamic and multifaceted as the individual who pursues it. At BDO, Ben has found a stage where his diverse talents are not just recognised but celebrated, allowing him to play his most important role yet: being a leader, a mentor, and a dad.