John-Paul Barker leads PwC UK's West and Wales wing

05 August 2019 4 min. read
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PwC has named a new leader for its West England and Wales division, who will take charge of more than 700 staff across the region. John-Paul Barker, who began his professional services career at PwC’s consulting office almost 25 years ago, said his promotion felt like “coming home.”

The West is an important part of the UK economy, with some of the UK’s most successful companies being represented in the area. With Brexit looming, however, the region is in line to be hit by a succession of economic shockwaves, and a number of European subsidies are yet to be confirmed as replaced by the UK Government. As a result, companies in the area are likely to increasingly turn to the consulting sector for advice on how to weather the on-coming storm.

PwC holds multiple offices across the West of England and Wales, with around 700 employees in its Bristol locale alone, along with offices in Swansea and Cardiff. PwC’s West and Wales region is among the largest in PwC’s UK regional network, extending from South Wales to Cornwall, a region includes a wealth of UK industries and sectors including aerospace and defence, financial services, technology, manufacturing, government and health, legal and private equity. As a result, clients range from pre-revenue businesses through to multi-national organisations and the firm operates fully across the private and public sectors.

John-Paul Barker and Katharine Finn

As the Big Four giant prepares for a new era in the region, PwC has appointed a new regional leader for the West and Wales. John-Paul Barker, who has led PwC UK’s strategy and consulting practice, replacing Katharine Finn, who has been in the role for four years. Finn, who has worked at PwC for 29 years in Bristol, London, Auckland and Nottingham, remains at the firm as an Audit Partner. During her time as regional leader, she sat on the board of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the CBI Council for Wales.

On her standing down, Finn said, “It’s been an absolute privilege to lead the West and Wales region for the last four years – a period where we have grown our revenues to nearly £90m and seen significant investments in exciting growth areas such as cyber and digital. The opportunity to represent PwC [on the CBI and LEP boards] has been hugely rewarding on a personal level, and they have been great platforms to make sure that we are bringing the PwC purpose to life in the region.”

Her successor has been a member of PwC for almost a quarter of a century, having arrived in 1995 as an Auditor in Cardiff. Barker spent three years completing internal and external audit and advisory work in the Welsh office before joining PwC’s management consulting practice in London. Following three years as a Training Consultant, he moved to the firm’s office in Melbourne, Australia, to work as a Change Management Consultant, before returning to London in 2005 to focus on helping clients with technology-enabled transformation.

After his globe-trotting exploits, Barker became a Partner in 2010, and was then installed as the leader of PwC’s UK retail and consumer consulting practice from 2013 to 2016. He has also been a member of the global Strategy& leadership team and the UK consulting executive team, a position he still holds with PwC’s strategy wing. Described as a “proud Welshman” in a release from PwC, Barker comes to his new role with a passion for the region where he grew up and has lived most of his life.

Barker commented, “I was born and raised in South Wales, went to the University of Exeter, and started my career in Cardiff. Apart from the time I spent working in Australia, this region has always been my home. I’m passionate about building a strong economy that provides local people with the opportunity to prosper. This is a dynamic place with lots of opportunity for growth, as outlined recently with the launch of proposals for creating a ‘powerhouse’ for the region. As a result of the investments we’ve made over the last few years we are well placed to play a leading role in helping the region realise its potential.”