Gary Hanson

Gary Hanson

After 45 years in accounting, I left BDO in July 2021. As an audit partner, I had built an extensive network in the business and corporate communities and was most proud of the relationships I’d built across the global firm, particularly in the US, and with clients. Retiring from this multi-national, fast-paced environment where I was relied upon for developing our people and advising clients on their ambitious plans was a big step. I was determined to find new outlets for my knowledge, experience and connections and was fortunate enough to have been given support to help me map what my future might look like.

Thanks to my firm, I embarked on Circle Square’s Planning Your Next Chapter programme. Talking to a dedicated team of career transition specialists who’ve “been there and done that” was very powerful. I came away from each session with a more positive outlook and a deeper sense of purpose as I was forced to think laterally and constructively. They helped me focus on identifying the people I wanted to work with and controlling the time commitment on each.

Eighteen months on, I am living the life I designed with the right balance of charitable, advisory and NED roles while spending more time in the garden and on the golf course as well as integrating myself more into life with my children and grandchildren. I’m a Trustee and Chair of the Audit Committee for Founders4Schools, a charity helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I’m a director at Digital Boost which advises early-stage companies on all aspects of business through mentoring, NED at CFPro and also tutoring my grandson through GCSE maths!  There’s a constant flow of new opportunities being presented to me and I filter these according to two principles: working with people I want to work with and making a difference.

Share Circle Square: Member Q&A

What fears (if any) did you have about retirement? 
Covid helped me prepare for retirement as I spent the last 15 months working from my home office and planning what I wanted to do next. I had always focussed on people and helping them thrive, which meant that a lot of people approached me when they heard of my retirement and asked if I would join them.  This alleviated the fear of having nothing to do but I worried whether anything could replace the high-pressure world of audit.

How was your perception of ‘retirement’ different to reality?
The reality was that, in light of the above, it was a smooth transition. I still miss the amazing friends that I made at BDO, they became much more than colleagues but have been surprised by just how many have since approached me and wanted my input.

What do you want to achieve in this next chapter? 
My immediate purpose is to help my grandson achieve a good result in his GCSE maths exam this year! His teacher has commented on the great progress made but he’s keen to do more.  More widely, it is an approach to life that fulfils my desires to experience everything I can whilst also giving back and helping people personally and with their businesses.  The pressures on everyone don’t get any less and I try to put myself in places where I can make a difference.

What motivates you in this chapter of your life?
I have never been someone who needs to make a big noise and always prefer a lower profile but, this time is about helping others prosper in their own life and career. The motivation is therefore watching that evolution and blossoming.  By working with and investing in early-stage companies, maintaining and using my network to help individuals and corporates, I want to open doors and create possibilities. I am also seeking personal excitement and keen to open my mind to new relationships and experiences.

What was the best advice you were given when transitioning from your corporate career?
Take time to think about what you want out of the next phase and plan for it carefully.  There’s no need to schedule every day but map out whether you are going to continue with any “work” activities and, if so, what time you want to devote to that.  Finally, make time for yourself and invest in making yourself happy as a priority.

If you could offer one piece of advice to someone at this mid-life stage, what would it be? 
It is only mid-life if we are lucky health-wise therefore, use these years to focus on living your life to the full, do want you want to do and prioritise making the most of every moment.

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