Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Chris Brown CPFA, CISA, MAAT

Chris Brown

Chris Brown is the Head of Strategic Sales, Partnerships and Alliances at Capita and Non-Executive Director at the British Paralympic Association.

Strategic Sales has responsibility for the larger deals that Capita does with clients in both the public and private sectors. Prior to Capita, Chris was a Partner at the global innovation and transformation consultancy PA Consulting and the professional services firms EY and PwC.

As an experienced professional services leader, Chris’s track record reflects a career in creating and implementing vision, strategy and new operating models in order to drive business growth and development.

In addition to his consultancy work, Chris is also a non-executive director at the British Paralympic Association, combining his love of sport with his desire to help others.

Why CIPFA?

I always wanted to be a consultant, so I actively chose to undertake a CIPFA qualification because I felt that CIPFA offered a more well-rounded qualification, especially in the third assessment year which is both highly relevant and useful for a career in public finance.

The other benefit of a CIPFA qualification, which I was not necessarily fully aware of at the time that I enrolled, was the fantastic network of contacts I would make. People who I met during this qualification are still great friends and form an important part of my professional network. My advice to new graduates is to leverage this network.

What additional advice would you give to new CIPFA graduates?

Try and play the long game. This generation of graduates are most likely to be renting, be highly mobile and excel in technology and social media. With these attributes in mind you could easily plot a strong career path in public sector finance and accounting. On top of this, it is a career which can be incredibly rewarding on a personal level.

Don’t be constrained by your own reservations, reach for the stars and be ambitious. Don’t be frightened to challenge yourself and try things in different areas. All people at the top are human and have good and bad days, yet they try to do their best. It’s important to keep this in mind as you progress, because ultimately it takes trust and being your genuine self in order to build successful relationships. To do this, you must give a bit of yourself and let your guard down from time to time. It is these relationships of trust that make a difference.

What are some of the major milestones in your career?

Most recently, it would have to be being appointed as a non-executive director to the British Paralympic Association, where I chair the Finance & Audit Committee. This allows me to utilise my expertise in a very rewarding way, to advise an association whose purpose is to build a movement to break down barriers for disabled people across the UK. Other career milestones include making partner at PwC in 2004 and through CIPFA being able to access and network with dynamic individuals such as CIPFA’s Chief Executive Rob Whiteman. 

Overall, I am very pleased with how things have panned out. I have played to my strengths, travelled a great deal, and worked on some fascinating projects over the years including the introduction of universal credit for the DWP. Advising the public sector has featured throughout my career and today I am now helping a tech business to sell and further develop their markets. What began as a CIPFA qualification has led to a varied and fruitful career.

Play to your strengths, be prepared to travel and remember you can’t always choreograph your next move, sometimes you’ve just got to respond to it.

Who inspired you?

Since graduation many people have inspired me. Phillip Wright, for example, was an excellent mentor when I was at PwC and he really instilled a sense of confidence in me as my career progressed. As a CIPFA graduate you will be working in an advisory capacity and dealing with incredibly important, big ticket stuff. So, it’s important that you develop and pervade a sense of confidence even if you don’t always feel it at times.

Brian Davidson was also influential in my career when I moved from Deloitte to PwC and he acted as a wonderful sounding board for me. I felt he genuinely had my best interests at heart.

Building sincere relationships with people right through your career will hold you in good stead. Always look to establish rapport. CIPFA graduates have an added advantage because as part of your training and personal development you are given many opportunities to network with and meet senior level people working and advising the public sector.