In Conversation with Lee Baker

Since joining Wenn Townsend on the graduate trainee scheme in 2005, Lee Baker has been an advocate for clients and colleagues alike. Having been made partner in 2014, Lee continues to be one of the firm’s driving forces. His enthusiasm and passion for his job, and for the firm in general, is infectious, and he works exceptionally hard to ensure all clients receive an excellent service. To get to know Lee better we asked him a few questions about how he got to this point in his career and what motivates him in his role within the firm:

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
    I love everything about my job and the firm but without question it is the interaction with people, both clients and colleagues, that is the thing that I enjoy most. Whether that’s a chat at the coffee machine, a meeting around the board room table or more recently a zoom call with people scattered in their various homes/offices, it is that interaction which is the most rewarding part of the role. I am so thankful to have worked with some incredible people over the years and even more so to have such a wonderful team around me at the moment. I probably don’t express this gratitude often enough so hopefully one or two of them will read this!
  2. What has been the defining moment in your career to date?
    This is quite an emotive question for me as I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and the wonderful people I’ve worked with over my sixteen years with the firm. As a bit of a timeline of key events though, and at the risk of rambling, I’m going to list a top four…

    1. The day after I had been offered my graduate trainee position by my now fellow partner, Ajay Bahl, I was phoned by a partner from another firm where I had also applied, inviting me to attend an interview. When I told her that I had been offered a position with Wenn Townsend and was looking forward to starting, she told me that Wenn Townsend was a wonderful firm, and I should enjoy that opportunity. As trivial as that may sound, that respect from a partner at another firm towards Wenn Townsend confirmed my own assessment of how excellent the firm was and there has been no looking back since.
    2. Although not a defining moment, my early years as a trainee were certainly the formative ones, giving me the foundations on which my career has been built. I worked alongside our brilliant audit team on numerous complex audit assignments, and this gave me the most incredible introduction to the technical level that you needed to aspire to in order to be a good auditor. I learnt a lot from the team while training and hope that I have been able to pass some of this on to future generations.
    3. Being offered partnership probably should have been the only one defining moment and is without doubt the moment that has shaped the last eight years of my career. I had a really clear vision of what I hoped to achieve as a partner and have been given the freedom to continue to put that vision into practice. I am immensely grateful to my fellow partners for having the faith they had in me.
    4. Winning my first client, Creation Theatre. I was so excited to meet the Creation team having worked for a number of years with Chipping Norton Theatre, and knowing the firm also looked after the Oxford Playhouse which I now also have the pleasure of auditing. It’s a sector I am passionate about, and I really felt like I could add a lot of value with my experience but was extremely nervous putting the tender together. Fortunately Lucy and the team at Creation could see my enthusiasm (and hopefully a hint of technical knowledge at least) and encouraged the trustees to appoint us. Fast forward nearly ten years, we still work closely together, and the charity has gone from strength to strength with some incredible productions. That success gave me the confidence when meeting prospective new clients and I will be forever grateful to them for that.
  3. Who would be the dream client?
    My dream client is generally driven by the personalities rather than the sector they’re operating in. I love working with people who are passionate about their organisation; people that tell me they’re thinking of doing something rather than telling me they have done it; someone who trusts and values my input and considers me to part of their team such that I am involved in key decisions and can help them. Whether this is financial reporting, tax planning, exit strategies, I really don’t mind, but having that relationship with clients where you aren’t just preparing a set of accounts once a year but where you are truly part of their organisation is such a rewarding thing, and that would be the dream client.I feel my expertise in the Arts Sector is where I have the most to give and with the support of our excellent tax team, we have helped a number of theatres and museums to maximise their Creative Industry Reliefs – this whole sector has been so badly hit by the pandemic that they need good financial reporting now more than ever, and I would love to work with more Theatres and Museums to support them in this area.
  4. How would you want your colleagues or clients to describe you?
    Hopefully my colleagues would say that I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first and a boss second. Probably an entertainer third.And when I’m not reciting David Brentisms, I hope that both colleagues and clients alike would describe me as having a positive influence on either their working life or their business and that they consider me to be part of their team. I hope that they would consider me to be a good listener and a knowledgeable accountant who is approachable and can put things into plain English.
  5. What do you most want to achieve in your career?
    In many ways I feel I’m already achieving it and hope that continues for a long time to come. I would like to carry on the firm’s traditions of the last 145 years of providing an excellent service to clients by helping them to have a clear understanding of their organisation’s financial position. I hope that I will continue to contribute to the firm’s growth and success, while creating a positive working environment for our amazing staff. I know I’ve said it already, but they really are at the heart of all that we do as a firm and we are immensely grateful to each and every one of them, past and present, for the contribution they have made to Wenn Townsend.
Source: Mon, 29 Nov 2021 13:10:18 +0100