Bev's Journey

I have had a love of pens from a very young age. After being made redundant my dad set up his own office supplies company, when I was 5 years old. I loved nothing better than to wander through the warehouse on a Saturday morning, looking at all the different pens.

Conversation around the dining table focussed on the business, and I knew with certainty from my early teens that I would combine my love of business and my love of numbers and become an accountant. I left home aged 18 and studied economics and pure maths at Sheffield University. After graduation, I moved to Birmingham and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Touche Ross. I spent 7 years at Touche (which became Deloitte in the UK), and then moved to TSB Bank as the Financial & Statutory Accountant. I decided that the corporate world wasn’t for me, and in August 1994, I joined the family business.

That was when I became involved with Advantia. My dad was one of the founding members of Advantia, known then as COSTS (consortium of office stationery trade suppliers) and I remember him asking for my advice when he was invited to join. In my first week working with dad he asked me to go to a COSTS meeting with him at Bosworth Hall in Market Bosworth. The members were in discussion with the founder, Frank Barson, about buying the business from him, and were setting up a limited company as the vehicle for the acquisition. Dad had given me several documents to review ahead of the meeting, including the Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Agenda for the meeting included the election of directors to the Board. The Chair of the meeting stated that they had received more nominations than there were spaces on the board and so they explained that each person nominated would have 2 minutes to explain why they would like to be a director. The first name called out, in alphabetical order, was Bev Boden. I looked at dad, who just smiled and said, ‘oh yes, I forgot to tell you!’. Talk about thinking on your feet – probably the best way to come up with an elevator speech, as it has to come from the heart. I think I was elected for two reasons, the first is that I was a qualified accountant, and the second, to give some gender balance to the board. And so I became part of the Advantia family, and I have loved my 25+ years involved at Board level as Finance Director.

Over those 25 years we have seen many changes, in society, in technology and in the office supplies industry. There have been new products, mergers & acquisitions, new entrants, new routes to market and a lot of scaremongering from the US that the independent dealer channel has had its day. But the independent dealer is resilient, resourceful and adaptable. And we as a dealer group have been resourceful and adaptable. We have a reputation for being innovative and developing ground-breaking solutions.

What I love about being involved with Advantia is that as a group we have a real family feel. We are there to support the members and it is great to see how the members support one another.