Lessons from the C-suite: Anton Colella, Moore Global

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The global CEO of accountancy and consultancy network Moore Global offers his leadership tips and his view of HR at the top.

I started out… Teaching in one of the toughest schools in Scotland. This was a deliberate choice as I’d grown up in a single-parent family in the east end of Glasgow. I had originally intended to start in the world of accountancy, but before university I changed my mind because of the impact the good teachers had on my life and the way they helped me see better possibilities for my future. I wanted to do the same.


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I knew this was the right career path for me when… I never imagined moving from the classroom to the C-suite. The opportunities that came to me through powerful encounters with individuals changed the course of my career as they saw something in me that I hadn’t seen myself. You never know who you’ll be sitting next to at dinner, so give everyone your best 30 seconds. It could change your life.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way… That people in organisations have far more potential to do great things than
they realise.

My proudest achievement… Every young person I taught who fulfilled their potential. I still think of them.

My biggest mistake… I’ve made a lot of mistakes but each one has given me a moment of learning. I hope I continue to make mistakes because it’s what makes me a better leader.

My biggest inspiration… My mother. Despite adversity of all kinds, she never stopped loving us and giving us hope for the future. She gave me a great example of the sacrifices needed to be a good leader.

Keeping me awake at night right now… Our people who are still in Afghanistan working for Moore Afghanistan.

The biggest challenge for organisations over the next five years will be… To be different. At Moore Global we have an opportunity to redefine the modern professional services network at a time when there is so much sameness and often the only differentiation is price.

We want to establish an organisation rooted in a profound sense of its humanity and obligations. There is a lot of talk about purpose today, but we cannot separate purpose from people. And the purpose needs to be built around the way we can impact people for good, whether they are our clients, our communities, or our
own employees.


"If we don’t care for our people well, how do we expect them to care for our clients?"


I need my HR director to… Help me get the best out of our people and to know our people really well, even though this is difficult in a big organisation. I want to know when people are not doing well in life, not just in their job, and know how we can support them.  People bring the burdens in their personal life to work every day. Organisations cannot ignore that. If we don’t care for our people well, how do we expect them to care for our clients?

More HR directors would become CEO if… They provided proactive solutions. HR directors are in a prime position to demonstrate their skills in the deployment of people and in being creative and providing solutions. Their proximity to the CEO gives them a profound understanding of the direction and challenges of the business. I think there is an opportunity for HRDs to redefine modern HR practices beyond what might be described as the core responsibilities.

What I’m reading right now… Dominion by Tom Holland.

My top leadership tip… Give everyone your best 30 seconds.

 

Anton Colella is global chief executive at Moore Global

 

This piece appears in the September/October 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.