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David Yeoman – Principal Consultant – Co-Founder at Campbell Yeoman Associates

Breandan hEaghra
22 July 2021

Campbell Yeoman & Associates contract to clients needing flexible business support and optimisation services. A husband and wife team, Ann & David provide a combined 70-years of business experience. Ann manages the administrative, legal secretarial, and executive PA provision. David consults and mentors on leadership, project, business and change management. With a network of associates they also provide technical writing and Python training provision. 

Q1. Did you always want to become a consultant, or did you fall into the role?

Working for myself has been a goal since I was a young man. Yet, MBAs, mortgages, marriages, and misguided ambition handcuffed me to corporate roles. The Covid lock-down helped me reassess the last 40-years of my working life, and we took the decision to follow the dream in 2020. 

Q2. What makes a good consultant?

Five things:
An ability to be a human first, and build strong client relationships while earning trust.
Possessing broad and deep experience to solve clients problems. Not just book learning.
The ability to listen and understand a specific context while leaving your ego at the door.
Partnering with clients whose business ethics, management, and leadership views match your own.
A team of outstanding associates who always over-deliver.

Q3. Do you feel you manage yourself well, or is it a case of ‘the cobbler’s shoes’?

Consulting forced me into marketing and selling myself, which was uncomfortable. I’m someone who believes people should judge you on actions, not words. Yet, I realised that I needed to adapt and learn. I have a way to go. 

But, there’s no dichotomy between my client recommendations and my business implementation. I walk the talk on leadership, financial management, strategy development, and operational implementation. 

Q4. Are there enough hours in your day?

Yes. Having worked in FTSE-100 companies, I’m no stranger to 60-hour weeks. Yet now, we ensure we get the downtime on the other side. That’s the beauty of finally working for yourself and being able to select your clients. An example would be when our technical writing and conveyancing contracts took off. It was demanding, but having settled it down, we then took time off to recharge.

Q5. If you could magically stop your clients from making one mistake – what would that be?

Stop chasing mediocrity by following fads and fashion. A business is a complex, three-dimensional entity requiring customised, complex, three-dimensional approaches. Following the herd with one-dimensional thinking leads to commonness, not greatness. 

Q6. What do you find is the best way to market yourself?

We’re on several consultant platforms, but most referrals are via LinkedIn or word-of-mouth. The only way that works for me is meeting someone face-to-face and speaking with them. We now have clients around the globe, and we’re receiving a lot of repeat business, which is reassuring.

Q7. What do you do to unwind?

We both like to create. I came from a trade background, so I enjoy metalwork, woodwork, and machining. I’m an amateur landscape photographer, and Ann is a watercolour artist, so we both love nature. Finally, we have two mad dogs who need constant walks, so we do get out into the countryside a lot.

Q8. What advice would you give a starting consultant?

It takes longer than you think, and you’ll doubt yourself. Yet, success is about repeatedly getting up and turning up. Most people fail because they give it away too early, so stay with it, and believe in yourself. Choose your clients carefully, and be prepared to pivot if something isn’t working. You will come across people wanting to demean and diminish you, be sure to connect with people who share your values and empower you.

Q9. What’s your guilty pleasure?

I have a love of good books and better whisky. I’m currently drinking a 15-year Aberlour and reading Stories We Tell Ourselves by Richard Holloway, a marvellous book that discusses the search for meaning in a meaningless universe. I like Richard’s self-deprecating manner and his incisive style. 

Q10. What’s your goal for next year?

We have three:

  1. Continue to grow and diversify the business with a push into online training courses.
  2. Take time out for a long-overdue holiday.
  3. Buy a new rural home in Devon from where the Yeomans originated.