Working in the Arts: Michael Roberts

Posted by Emma Restall in Blog

January 31st 2020

This month in Working In the Arts we spoke with Michael Roberts who is the Head of Department, Auctioneer and Valuer at PFK Auctioneers, Penrith, Cumbria.

So, where do you work?

PFK Auctioneers, Penrith, Cumbria

 What is your job title?

Head of Department, Auctioneer and Valuer

What time did you wake up? What are you usual working hours?

I wake up at 4.30am and usually work between 7am and 6pm, with some occasional evening work

What are your key tasks?

I run the business on behalf of the parent company, PFK plc and am responsible for ensuring successful financial performance and stewardship of the business. The role is all encompassing and comprises two distinct elements – business management and business development. Business management comprises financial forecasting, board reporting, sales strategy/business direction, leading and managing a team, as well as day to day other business issues. Business development comprises sourcing goods for sale and this takes the majority of my time. I travel widely meeting a variety of new and existing clients, negotiating sales and accepting consignments for future auctions.

I am also the senior auctioneer and sell around 800 lots per fortnight.

What was your career path to this role?

I have always had an interest in art and antiques, my parents being retired antiques dealers. After studying English at Nottingham University, I took a position at Winterton Fine Art auctioneers in Lichfield, Staffordshire whilst studying Fine Art Valuation at Southampton Solent University. On leaving Wintertons, I joined Canterbury Auction Galleries in Kent as an Auctioneer and Valuer and stayed with them for 10 years, rising to the position of General Manager and Company Director. My time at Canterbury sparked an interest in business management and strategy, which has led to my current role.

What are the best and worst things about your job?

Best aspect – the feeling of success when achieving sales targets.

Worst aspect – the hours and salary compared to other industries.

What careers advice would you give to your 18 year old self with the benefit of hindsight?

Trust your judgement, avoid negativity and don’t allow yourself to get stuck in rut. Develop a thick skin, don’t take set-backs personally and always continue to work hard to improve your skills and knowledge. Keep hold of and nurture contacts – you never know when they might come in handy in future

Have you had a secret job that is not on your CV?

It wouldn’t be a secret if I revealed that!

Thank you to Michael for taking the time to talk to us and look out for future insights into the art world.