- Course studied:
- Sports Studies
- Year of graduation:
Sport to Accountant
Paul Cheetham has built and lead two companies to multi-million pound turnovers – one in digital marketing and the other accountancy. The Sports Science graduate also sat on the board of a Swedish stock exchange listed firm and chairs a charity raising money for families that have suffered a terminal illness.
“I didn’t end up in a sports career,” Paul explained, “but everything I do is associated with sport – on a personal and professional level.”
Paul is the owner and managing director of Sedulo, an accountants and independent financial advisor working with sports teams and ex-professionals, among other clients. The charity he chairs, Once Upon A Smile, organises celebrity football matches and gala dinners to raise funds. He is also a keen sportsman himself, keeping fit with boxing and football.
“I chose Sports Science originally because I wanted to become a PE teacher,” Paul said. “I did PE, English and Biology at A-Levels and then chose Staffordshire University because it was the closest to home, in Manchester, that did Sports Science.
“I enjoyed the whole course – everything about it. The psychology and nutritional sides were particularly interesting to me and I still follow what I learnt, keep my hand in those sides for personal fitness.”
Paul completed his degree in 2000 and, after finding an advert in the Manchester Evening News, joined debt management firm Baines and Ernst to continue studying. “This time, I was studying to become a Chartered Accountant. After leaving University at 21, it gave me another three years of education. After that three years, the company employed around 100 accountants and I was the only one with a Sports Science degree.”
Paul then joined accountancy firm Styles & George, where he ended up being seconded to Boots Opticians, helping to turn eight managers into franchisees. He said: “I was turning employees into business owners. I did that for a year and realised I wanted to set up my own company, supporting sports people getting into a second career.”
In 2005, Paul was a director of digital marketing company Just Search, which sold in 2007 for just under £15m. The buyer, Getupdated Internet Marketing, a company listed on the First North Premier OMX in Stockholm, put Paul on their board. In 2009, he set up Sedulo, based in Manchester, with offices set to open in Leeds and Liverpool.
“We work with around 300 clients or so, specialising in accounts, tax, corporate finance, wealth management and other areas,” Paul said. “We have a turnover of £8m and we are growing about 30-40% annually, recruiting about 10 new employees a year. We operate differently to other accountants; we have our own private members bar at the office, a sports room with a pool table, and a Disney themed room with a sweet shop.”
Alongside chairing the charity, and raising two young children with a third due, Paul is also Finance Director of Simon + Simon, a fashion brand launched in 2012.
“My business is completely about reputation – that’s why we’ve been able to grow so quickly. The sector behind what we do, the financial industry, can be impersonal and standoffish whereas we’re just normal people. I started with a Sports Science degree but within two years as an accountant I was the boss of my team. I give financial advice and support from a sports background. That is different in this industry.”