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10 Minutes With Paul Graham

Paul Graham, Christie & Co's Head of Dental shares his thoughts on the dental industry, the changes he has witnessed and where he draws his inspiration from.

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Q Has the dental profession changed since you started work in it?
A Yes, since Christie & Co first became involved in practice sdales in 2013 we’ve seen plenty of evolution in the sector. We are fully immerserd in the industry and are now at the forefront of the UK’s unique and dynamic dental sector and involved in some of the highest profile projects, from a sales, valuation and consultancy perspective. 

There is a noticeable pattern when change emerges, first its being aware of the nuances in the profession, followed by the marketing habituating. A recent example is the discernible shift in demand towards the private sector, as operators look to balance the risk of forthcoming phased contract reforms, mitigating the net reduction in NHS funding and to drive revenue yield at practice level. An increasingly sophisticated and rapidly evolving sector, the need for accurate advice backed up by market leading data, has never been more important.
Q What have been the key positive or negative changes in your area of the profession?
A In a less certain political landscape, investors and lender funding tends to follow regulated, need-driven sectors where levels of business impairment have historically been low. This support is prevalent in the dental sector and is often described as ‘green light’ by many banks and investors, this helps underpin acquisition activity and now is a great time for practice owners who are considering selling, as demand outweighs supply.

Another interesting facet of the market is that all corporates are genuinely looking for larger practices. If you had a big practice five years ago with a value of £3 million or more, you only had a choice of one of two corporates. If you didn’t sell to one of those, you were in a difficult position working out who to sell to. One of the features of the marketing is the demand for bigger practices has noticeably increased. The market for practices with a turnover of £1.5 million or more have never been hotter.

Brexit! Not only this, the workforce is changing. We believe around 70% of newly qualified dentists are female, compared with sub 50% ten years ago. Over the next decade, dentistry will look remarkably different. Its likely that there’ll be greater number of workers going on maternity leave. Better companies are those looking very carefully at their current skill mix and how they best utilise the staff they’ve got. Its not all about Brexit, but has it had an impact on the number of dentists coming to the UK? Yes it absolutely has. The other key feature we’re seeing is the recruitment crisis is very acute in the NHS when compared to the private sector. Its also not just about pay – there is a real urban versus rural, private versus NHS set up; essentially there are different forces outplaying each other.
Q Who inspired you and why?
A I am inspired by different people at different times, sometimes by family – my two daughters inspire me to no end with their happy go lucky approach (the way it should be). Mpost recently, I am inspired by Eliud Kipchoge, a Kenyan long distance runner. He won the London Marathon a record four times, often described as ‘the greater marathoner of the modern era”. Kipchoge has won 12 of the 13 marathons he has entered, and he is now the first runner in history to successfully break a sub two hour marathon. I followed his training and campaign, learning a lot from his approach. Firstly, it was his positive outlook and catchphrase, “no human is limited” – he never doubted that he would run under two hours. Secondly, despite his confidence, he remains incredibly humble throughout, often acknowledging those around his as the reason why he would succeed. I wateched an interview with him once where he described himself as “just 10% of the task”.
Q Have you got a mentor? If so, what was the most valuable piece of advice they gave to you?
A I have a couple of mentors at Christie & Co, I work closely with one, and the other I observe from the side-lines. I’ll not embarrass them by mentioning their names, but the advice that I’ve received always resonates with me and that is “just be yourself”.
Q If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
A this is a difficult question as I enjoy what I currently do so much. However, I also enjoy drawing, design and learning about new concepts, so my profession of choice would be to be an architect.

This article first appeared in Modern Dentist Magazine Issue 11:

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