Phil Adams – GCA Altium

In this True Stories blog we speak to Phil Adams – Group CEO of GCA Altium, a global M&A advisory business with eighteen offices in twelve countries. Phil has recently won the title of Dealmaker of the Year at UK-based Insider’s Dealmakers Awards 2018, which celebrates the best industry professionals in the region.


Can you please introduce yourself and your business?

Phil Adams, Group CEO of GCA Altium, a global M&A advisory business with eighteen offices in twelve countries.

Was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment or event that influenced what you chose to pursue as a career?

I did two jobs in my twenties which I hated. I joined Apax (which became GCA Altium) because they were working on a football deal with one of my childhood heroes, Alan Hansen (so totally the wrong reason for choosing a job !!!). At the time I had a number of offers from large organisations but I wanted to join a company where I could make a difference. I realised the day I started that I had made a great decision and I have loved working here ever since.

Was their a key tipping point in your success?

When Ian Currie and Richard Hughes left to form Zeus, I decided to stay with the rest of the team and test myself to see if I could run the business – we had barely any clients and the markets were terrible but you find a lot out about yourself when you are faced with the real risk of failure and I am pleased to say that we rebuilt the business and took it beyond where it had been when they left and I have been lucky enough to take on bigger management roles since then which have kept the job varied and challenging.

I joined Apax (which became GCA Altium) because they were working on a football deal with one of my childhood heroes, Alan Hansen (so totally the wrong reason for choosing a job !!!).
— Phil Adams

Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?

Undoubtedly a combination of Richard and Ian – Richard showed me the value of working incredibly hard and Ian taught me to listen more than you talk.

What is the best piece of business advice you have ever received?

If you work hard and can get on with people you are in the top 1%.

What business tool can you not live without?

Google.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Playing a part in GCA Altium becoming a truly global business while retaining its local roots.

What do you think will potentially disrupt your industry in the near future?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – anyone who thinks this wont impact their business is delusional.

What is that one book you tell everyone to read?

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis – all about how we make errors of judgement due to inbuilt prejudices rather than just looking at the facts in front of us.

What young business would you tip for a big future?

Toottoot – real purpose and dynamic young management team.

Who would you most like to see answer these questions next?

Brian Hay of Cardinal Maritime.