Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From Billion-Pound Hedge Funds to the Race for Mayor; BUSINESSMAN Andy Preston Is"very Busy" - and Life Is about to Get a Whole Lot More Hectic. He Talks Morals, Parmos and What's Inspiring Him to Win Next Year's Middlesbrough Mayoral Election with KELLEY PRICE

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

From Billion-Pound Hedge Funds to the Race for Mayor; BUSINESSMAN Andy Preston Is"very Busy" - and Life Is about to Get a Whole Lot More Hectic. He Talks Morals, Parmos and What's Inspiring Him to Win Next Year's Middlesbrough Mayoral Election with KELLEY PRICE

Article excerpt

Byline: KELLEY PRICE

I'VE just asked Andy Preston what he considers the high point of his career.

This is a man who's managed multi-billion pound hedge funds, ran marathons and raised thousands for his charity Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation - but he's lost for words.

"I never sit back and feel satisfied," he says, after a long pause. "When I reach a target I think 'well that wasn't that hard, I need to do something else now'.

"I've done some very gratifying things, but I've never felt like a highachiever and I don't feel successful. I'm someone with a job to do and a fight on their hands, that's just my natural state of mind."

A rare moment of basking in success was taken recently, when the people of Middlesbrough voted to retain the elected mayor system. Andy got behind the referendum campaign, gaining the support of "important and influential people" and helping to turn an "almost certain" no vote into a resounding yes.

"Middlesbrough has some big challenges ahead," he says, "and allowing the same old political parties to make the same old decisions will lead to the same old results - further deterioration."

It's why he's planning to stand for mayor of Middlesbrough as an independent next May. He's had links with politics before and is an ex-Labour party member, but he insists his running for mayor is an "anti status-quo thing, not an anti Labour thing," he says.

"I'm very happy with the outcome of the referendum.

It was about a democratic principle, but at times felt very personal. I'd invested my credibility, time and reputation.

"It was almost certainly going to be a 'no' vote, and that scared me. I've never worried as much. It had no impact on my health, my family or my finances but the thought of losing that terrified me.

"When the people of Middlesbrough said 'yes we want to retain a single person who's accountable', I felt relief and a little bit of success. But I was exhausted afterwards, mentally drained. " And he celebrated like any true Teessider should on the night of the victory - with a parmo and a pint.

"It was around midnight and we went to the Europa," he laughs.

A boro lad born and bred, Andy got a job as a graduate trainee in the City at the height of the 80s Yuppie era. He wanted to climb the ladder, earn as much as possible - and he also found he was very good at his job. He fasttracked from trainee to trader and manager, and was asked to build a new hedge fund, turning $50m into PS5bn. At the time, it was the fastest growing fund of its kind with 80 people working on it.

"It was monstrous, an amazing time. We had Oxbridge mathematicians doing formulas about us."

Andy left that business to set up his own hedge fund in 2006 - but it was just before the recession and the wheels were already starting to creak.

He began spending more time in the region, and ramped up his charity work including becoming chair of the Fairbridge Trust for young people and patron of children's charity ARK in 2003.

He's a co-founder of Searchcamp, a technology start-up accelerator, and an investor in the businesses it helps. …

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