MyCIMA

Online event: submit questions to Howard Ebison in advance

Replies : 20

Howard Ebison narrowly missed making the final of this year’s blockbusting Apprentice show on BBC TV. But did you know he's a CIMA student?

As 2009's series unfolded, it scored record audience ratings in their millions, and Howard's unfaltering professionalism and ability to deliver under pressure had put him as one of the favourites.

He joins CIMAsphere for a live Q&A session on Friday 17th July from 1 to 2pm (British Summer Time).

Take part!
Submit your questions by emailing them in advance to sphereinfo@cimaglobal.com (prefix your email subject line with Howard), or by replying in the discussion thread right here! You can also post questions and take part in the discussion live on the day.

About Howard Ebison:
Prior to appearing on The Apprentice, the 24-year-old was an Area Manager for one of the leading National Pub and Restaurant chains operating multi-million pound businesses in Central London. He graduated from the University of Warwick with a Maths and Business degree and is currently at Strategic level of his CIMA training.

Email us or ask your question for Howard below!

Being risk averse

Dear Howard Firstly, I think you deserved to win the Apprentice! Sir Allen complained that he thought you were "risk averse" but his company takes risks and he said that in times of recession you need to take risks. What would you think of the counter argument that instead of being risk averse you're simply avoiding being reckless and that any company that takes risks needs someone to counter that culture of reckless risk taking? Would you agree that companies need to take more risks in a recession or should they be more cautious because cash flow and margins are tighter so there's less room to make mistakes and get a second chance? Rob

Best form of defence is attack

I think Sir Alan did interpret your careful planning for risk aversion. I think you need to consider all eventualities and then make an informed decision. I also think that in times of a recession that in many cases, the rich get richer as cash is king and opportunities open up if you have enough recourses. That said, my father was an entrepreneur and I don't know how he slept at night as he took risks all the time with the family business and it paid off. He always said, "Take a chance" which is a nerve wrecking way to become profitable and with accountancy training, I would tend to cover all areas before I could attempt to be so adventurous and as a result, may miss an opportunity. I think this is what Sir Alan was on about.

Question

the footage covers two days per week - what do apprentices do the rest of the time?

Substance over style?

Hi Howard,

Just wondering your thoughts on the debate of susbtance over style?

And perhaps an example might be; if one of your pubs had been packed out for the evening, became a legend in the town, and sold out of champagne on a saturday night you might expect to be in for some serious performance rewards. Then it transpires the bar staff had in fact been selling the £1,000 a bottle Cristal for £5.

Do you think you would be celebrated by your managers for an inspired piece of marketing genius or drummed for a disastrous failure of basic arithmetic? And if the former, do you think that basic maths skills have perhaps become a bit too underrated in the modern business world?

Best regards

Andrew

age and wisdom

Hi Howard - I thought you were a model of decorum and rationality in the Apprentice maelstrom of bitchiness and insanity! Given that you are only 24 yourself, does it irritate you that 'Siralan' tends to assume the brash hotheads will all soon mature into shrewd business tacticians? Isn't it more likely that someone with a naturally cool head might learn to take a few more calculated risks?

What happens between tasks?

Question received via email from Nygel:

Howard, I applaude your valiant attempt to become Sir Alan's apprentice.

Did you have a week between each of the tasks as the TV scheduling would have us believe? Or were the tasks scheduled in quick succession giving you no chance to prepare and compose yourself?

Regards

Nygel

Future plans

Question received via email from Karen:

Howard,

You were area manager for a pub chain, and now at strategic level of CIMA- are you planning a career in finance or is the CIMA qualification to support a career in strategic management?

Karen

Good Afternoon

Good afternoon everyone! I am looking forward to answering your Questions. I will try and provide as much detail as possible, but please be aware that there are certain elements of the making of The Apprentice which I am not permitted to talk about. Thanks Howard

Being Risk averse

Robert Cregan wrote:
Dear Howard Firstly, I think you deserved to win the Apprentice! Sir Allen complained that he thought you were "risk averse" but his company takes risks and he said that in times of recession you need to take risks. What would you think of the counter argument that instead of being risk averse you're simply avoiding being reckless and that any company that takes risks needs someone to counter that culture of reckless risk taking? Would you agree that companies need to take more risks in a recession or should they be more cautious because cash flow and margins are tighter so there's less room to make mistakes and get a second chance? Rob

 

Hi Rob

 There are 2 points that you have touched on, one of risk, one of recklessness.  No company or individual should ever be reckless in a business sense e.g. making ill-informed decisions and not thinking things through properly.

 One of the reasons I was fired was because Sir Alan perceived me as risk averse.  However, I would say that actually I manage risk very well.  I research a situation, consider the options and all of their consequential reprecussions and then plan and implement the most appropriate course of action.  If this approach was taken by some of our bankers we may not be in the mess we are in!

There is no doubt that the companies who are brave and take risks in the recession stand to deliver a bigger win - but only if they get it right.  There are no simple rules.

Thanks

 

Best form of defence is attack

Mary McGovern wrote:
I think Sir Alan did interpret your careful planning for risk aversion. I think you need to consider all eventualities and then make an informed decision. I also think that in times of a recession that in many cases, the rich get richer as cash is king and opportunities open up if you have enough recourses. That said, my father was an entrepreneur and I don't know how he slept at night as he took risks all the time with the family business and it paid off. He always said, "Take a chance" which is a nerve wrecking way to become profitable and with accountancy training, I would tend to cover all areas before I could attempt to be so adventurous and as a result, may miss an opportunity. I think this is what Sir Alan was on about.

Mary

 I think you touch on a very valid point.  There is a balancing point between thoroughly analysing every potential risk you may face and taking every risk that comes your way based on "gut feeling".  The former ensures that fewer actions are more likely to deliver results, the latter gives more chances for success (and accepts there will be inevitable failures).

I think it is important to be allowed to make brave decisions that may result in mistakes being made - as long as the potential downside/loss has been minimised.  Especially if one learns from such mistakes in a manner that makes them a better, well rounded business person.

Substance over style?

Andrew May wrote:

Hi Howard,

Just wondering your thoughts on the debate of susbtance over style?

And perhaps an example might be; if one of your pubs had been packed out for the evening, became a legend in the town, and sold out of champagne on a saturday night you might expect to be in for some serious performance rewards. Then it transpires the bar staff had in fact been selling the £1,000 a bottle Cristal for £5.

Do you think you would be celebrated by your managers for an inspired piece of marketing genius or drummed for a disastrous failure of basic arithmetic? And if the former, do you think that basic maths skills have perhaps become a bit too underrated in the modern business world?

Best regards

Andrew

Andrew

Firstly, if such a promotion was being run in one of my pubs and I didn't know about it I'd be furious!  In a managed pub set-up (as opposed to freehold or leased) any promotional activity such as that needs to come from a central marketing team or be agreed between area manager and pub manager.

I ran unbranded pubs so we focussed more on the latter.  Any ideas any of my managers had, I would ask them to calculate the associated costs and provide realistic sales forecasts with supporting reasons.  If it transpired to be commerically viable then we would go ahead.

 Big retailers do sell items at a loss to benefit from the incremental sales that customers make on other products.  It may appear a risky strategy but it works well and is incredibly aggressive in terms of gaining market share.

 Everything needs to tie back to your original aims and objectives for the business/company.  Some loss-making activities are undertaken for the benefit of PR or local community support, it all depends on what the desired outcome is.

age and wisdom

Adam Cranfield wrote:
Hi Howard - I thought you were a model of decorum and rationality in the Apprentice maelstrom of bitchiness and insanity! Given that you are only 24 yourself, does it irritate you that 'Siralan' tends to assume the brash hotheads will all soon mature into shrewd business tacticians? Isn't it more likely that someone with a naturally cool head might learn to take a few more calculated risks?

Thank you very much Adam.

I am not irritated by Sir Alan's approach.  As with all job interviews it is a 2 way process.  I think ultimately he wasn't looking for someone like me, but plenty of companies are.

The behaviour of some of the candidates was terrible.  I refused to engage in such attitudes and chose instead to be true to myself and my professional values. 

 Sir Alan said himself in the first episode that the whole process was about pressure and how we cope with it.  I have learned that my limits are far higher than I thought they were.  I also think I am learning to take more calculated risks, and that is a task that can be taught and learned.  Teaching someone to keep their mouth shut is far harder!  So yes, I agree!

What happens between tasks?

Annette Heninger wrote:

Question received via email from Nygel:

Howard, I applaude your valiant attempt to become Sir Alan's apprentice.

Did you have a week between each of the tasks as the TV scheduling would have us believe? Or were the tasks scheduled in quick succession giving you no chance to prepare and compose yourself?

Regards

Nygel

Nygel

I'm afraid this is an example of something about which I cannot go into detail.  What I will say is that the whole thing is incredibly intense and demanding.  The Apprentice stretches you and certainly tests your limits.

 

Future plans

Annette Heninger wrote:

Question received via email from Karen:

Howard,

You were area manager for a pub chain, and now at strategic level of CIMA- are you planning a career in finance or is the CIMA qualification to support a career in strategic management?

Karen

Hi Karen

I started my CIMA training whilst at Mitchells & Butlers.  My career path there was to move from the Area Manager role into finance and to draw on my operational experience in an accountant role. 

This was and is part of a longer, wider career plan to help me further myself by being a well-rounded individual.  Being able to have experience (and hence empathy) in 2 different (but fundamentally salient) parts of a company makes you highly employable in my eyes.

Question

Luke Butcher wrote:
the footage covers two days per week - what do apprentices do the rest of the time?

Luke

 I'm afraid I can't go into details about this.  The making of The Apprentice is top secret!

Doing it over

Hi Howard

Firstly, congratulations on getting so far in the competition.

With the benefit of hindsight, if you were you to do it all over again is there anything you would do differently?

Also, which was your favourite task any why?

Hilary

Life after the Apprentice

Hello Howard,

Following your exit from The Apprentice how did you find the transition from potential apprentice candidate to being back in the rat race especially during the current economic difficulties?

 

Chris

Doing it over

Hilary Busing wrote:

Hi Howard

Firstly, congratulations on getting so far in the competition.

With the benefit of hindsight, if you were you to do it all over again is there anything you would do differently?

Also, which was your favourite task any why?

Hilary

Hilary

One of the key things I learned from The Apprentice is that I need to stand my ground more strongly when I know I'm right about something.  This happened in the rebranding of Margate task where Debra made a right mess of the posters whereas if she had listened to my ideas they would have been much better.

I think I just took the whole thing incredibly seriously.  If I could do it again I'd certainly try and enjoy it all a bit more! 

 My favourite task was the Baby Show.  It was great fun working on a really gritty sales task (something in which I have no experience) and all the visitors to the show were there to have a great day.  Plus I was on the winning team!

Life after the Apprentice

Chris M wrote:

Hello Howard,

Following your exit from The Apprentice how did you find the transition from potential apprentice candidate to being back in the rat race especially during the current economic difficulties?

 

Chris

Chris

Quite difficult actually.  Candidates from previous series have exited The Apprentice to a plethora of jobs offers from big companies who have been able to make room for good people in their organisations and work out what they'll do at a later date!

With the ambundance of redundancies this has simply not happened this year.  Only one candidate that I know of (Debra) has successfully moved jobs in post-apprentice life.  I currently have a great job in a great company - it would make no sense to leave without a "great" offer - and what defines that??

Thank you

Thanks for you questions - hope I could help. If you have any other questions feel free to contact me through my website www.howardebison.com Alternatively you can follow me on Twitter; howardebison Thanks Howard