Sixty-second interview with David Brooks


David Brooks, Technical Director at Broadstone

Sixty-second interview with David Brooks

What is Broadstone? 

Broadstone provides a full range of pensions and employee benefits, advice to small and medium sized employers, pension scheme trustees and individual pension scheme members.

What is your greatest achievement?

I have not had any single moment (yet) when I thought, “this is it.” But the highlight of my job is the helping someone understand a tricky pensions concept. This could be a trustee, employer or a colleague and it’s that ‘light bulb moment’ that is always incredibly satisfying. I would have liked to have been a teacher - I really enjoy helping others learn.

Which event in your career has taught you the most?

Budget day 2014 when George Osborne announced freedom and choice – a complete shocker. I will never forget the looks of amazement as my colleagues heard him say, “lump sum for all and free advice”. There were lots of people mouthing, “did he just say that?”. That taught me that there will always be some things you can’t prepare for and you never know what’s around the corner, especially in pensions.

 Which previous job would you say is most responsible for where you are now?

My pensions technical apprenticeship served with the team at Mercer in Chichester. I joined Mercer as a contractor working on their calculation system. I went to apply for a full-time job but accidentally clicked on the wrong job on their intranet. A few weeks later I was a technical analyst. Life can be serendipitous sometimes.

If you weren’t in the role you’re in now, what would you be doing? 

I always wanted to be a journalist so writing something (almost anything) is where I would probably have ended up. As a failed musician, it could well have been music journalism.

What would be your specialist subject on Mastermind?

It would have to be the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I read all four books of the trilogy growing up and is my most returned-to book. Genius. If I got through to round two, it would be the music of Boards of Canada, but I doubt I’d progress.

What career advice can you offer?

Look out for opportunities. It is an industry that certainly rewards those who want to stretch themselves and, if you are a shrinking violet, things may pass you by. Say yes more and get involved. There is a good chance you will learn something new about yourself and the industry, which will make you better at your job. Also trust yourself. Trust your ideas and do not be afraid to ask questions – no matter how obvious you might think it is because the chances are it’s the question everyone wants answered. Finally, try to maintain a sense of humour.

What one thing can you not live without?

Music – it is the thing that keeps me going when things get tough?

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Jason Statham – we have similar enough “hair styles”.

Do you have any hobbies?

I really enjoy running and love to do it as often as I can and for as long as possible. I have also rediscovered playing music in a band - playing the bass again has been great. Midlife crisis? No…

Which famous person would you like to have dinner with?

If I was allowed to resurrect someone it would be Christopher Hitchens as his writing style and way of debating/arguing points has been a big influence on me. But if not, then it would be Adam Buxton. He always makes me chuckle and seems like a genuinely nice bloke.

What's the skill you'd most like to have?

To run a bit faster.

And finally… what keeps you awake at night?

Did I just say/tweet that? Usually the crippling awkwardness that I have just said something totally stupid. It happens more often than I’d like.