David Pattison

Wingman, Chairman, Mentor, Investor and author of The Money Train

David Pattison

Wingman, Chairman, Mentor, Investor and author of The Money Train

What I Do

What’s a wingman?

The dictionary definition of a wingman is:

‘a pilot in a plane that flies just outside and behind the right wing of the leading aircraft in a flight formation, in order to provide protective support’.

And that is what I do with the companies who I work with.

I have no desire to run businesses, but I do want to help companies and their CEO’s succeed. I have done a lot of things in the business world. Some of them very successful and some of them less so. I have always found that I learned more from the difficult times than from the sunny days. In truth I was/am always at my best when there is a problem to solve.

I use that experience to help todays young business builders who are looking for some advice on how to grow their ideas into a commercial success. And in most cases how to make that commercial success a personal financial gain with a successful exit.

The roles I take vary, but are usually as either a Chair, mentor, adviser or investor. I hate the term non-exec, and I never take on a box ticking exercise as a board member. I likely to be slightly more involved but I never ever want the CEO’s job.

I have experience of just about every business issue there is. From starting a business to successful exits and earnouts and everything in between. Setting successful strategies and implementing them. Holding CEO’s to account but without introducing friction. Making sure that all shareholders interests are best served by the behaviour of the company and the CEO. Raising money, managing cash. The list goes on. Depending on my role, I watch the backs of the companies, the CEO’s and the shareholders of the businesses I work with.

My style is informal, but I always insist on good governance where it is required. I like to help solve problems but don’t expect to get involved in doing the work.

I have three criteria when it comes to working with a CEO or a company:

  • Can I spend two hours in a room with these people?
  • Is it an interesting product/service?
  • Can I make a difference?

Three ticks and I generally get involved.

That’s what I do and that’s what I think a wingman should do.

My book The Money Train is a helpful guide to young businesses. Preparing them for the investment journey. A wingman from a distance helping people I don’t know.

“As Chairman of Relative Insight David has provided practical and wise advice. He is particularly good at applying the right advice at the right time. Being over advised can be as bad as having none. David has the ability to guide focus onto what is important at the time, but with the long view in mind. He watches my back and the companies back. He is our trusted wingman.”

Ben Hookway, CEO, Relative Insight

I have been a big dog and I don’t have any desire to be one again. I like to help leaders of businesses to be the best that they can. Solving problems and helping to come to successful strategies. Wingman might seem like an odd word, but I think it perfectly describes what I do. I see my role as a non-judgemental role to help CEO’s and their companies. Giving advice and support when asked for. Watching their backs. More hands on than a non-exec but not trying to do the CEO’s job for them. Hoping that I can stop them making some of the mistakes I made along the way.

There is a huge difference between coaching and mentoring. A coach attempts to get the answer from the person being coached and may delve into their personal past. A mentor will listen and give an opinion. I am definitely a mentor and not trained as a coach.

I have a lot of experience mentoring very senior CEO’s in a range of sizes of companies. Often a CEO wants to be able to share their thoughts with someone outside of the board they report to. Someone without a vested interest or hidden agenda to help them solve those knotty problems.

I have, on several occasions, started as a mentor and then have moved to be a Chair of the business I have worked with.

Chairing and mentoring tend to be long term roles. But there are often needs and projects from people or businesses that require a relatively short-term look. The range of these projects is a very long list, and I have done lots of these types of projects. Sometimes it just one call or a three-month project. Helping companies to profitability, looking at restructures, understanding team dynamics, meeting prospective hires. The list goes on. It’s a long list but I really enjoy these short-term projects.

The role of the Chair is so important, particularly if there are external board members. Be they investors, advisers or non-execs. The role of Chair is to represent the best interests of all the shareholders without compromising the company. When I Chair the relationship with the CEO is the key for me. You have to be able to hold the CEO to account but at the same time work with them to get the best out of them. I have chaired a number of businesses over the last ten years. Some young businesses and some more established companies as well. Acting as a guide and wise counsel. Some difficult, some a joy and some both at the same time.

I am always happy to share my experiences, my thoughts and points of view. This is largely on a one-to-one basis, but I am happy to speak publicly around any subject or specifically around the subject of my book. There are obviously a variety of forms this can take, speaking to a large audience, smaller groups or being part of a panel. Q and A or prepared speech. I have an ambition to get involved with business schools and universities.

'Wingman'

I have been a big dog and I don’t have any desire to be one again. I like to help leaders of businesses to be the best that they can. Solving problems and helping to come to successful strategies. Wingman might seem like an odd word, but I think it perfectly describes what I do. I see my role as a non-judgemental role to help CEO’s and their companies. Giving advice and support when asked for. Watching their backs. More hands on than a non-exec but not trying to do the CEO’s job for them. Hoping that I can stop them making some of the mistakes I made along the way.

Mentoring

There is a huge difference between coaching and mentoring. A coach attempts to get the answer from the person being coached and may delve into their personal past. A mentor will listen and give an opinion. I am definitely a mentor and not trained as a coach.

I have a lot of experience mentoring very senior CEO’s in a range of sizes of companies. Often a CEO wants to be able to share their thoughts with someone outside of the board they report to. Someone without a vested interest or hidden agenda to help them solve those knotty problems.

I have, on several occasions, started as a mentor and then have moved to be a Chair of the business I have worked with.

Consultancy

Chairing and mentoring tend to be long term roles. But there are often needs and projects from people or businesses that require a relatively short-term look. The range of these projects is a very long list, and I have done lots of these types of projects. Sometimes it just one call or a three-month project. Helping companies to profitability, looking at restructures, understanding team dynamics, meeting prospective hires. The list goes on. It’s a long list but I really enjoy these short-term projects.

Chairing

The role of the Chair is so important, particularly if there are external board members. Be they investors, advisers or non-execs. The role of Chair is to represent the best interests of all the shareholders without compromising the company. When I Chair the relationship with the CEO is the key for me. You have to be able to hold the CEO to account but at the same time work with them to get the best out of them. I have chaired a number of businesses over the last ten years. Some young businesses and some more established companies as well. Acting as a guide and wise counsel. Some difficult, some a joy and some both at the same time.

Speaker

I am always happy to share my experiences, my thoughts and points of view. This is largely on a one-to-one basis, but I am happy to speak publicly around any subject or specifically around the subject of my book. There are obviously a variety of forms this can take, speaking to a large audience, smaller groups or being part of a panel. Q and A or prepared speech. I have an ambition to get involved with business schools and universities.

If you think you could use a wingman, or need some advice, please get in touch.