As head of Ernst & Young's British partnership in troubled times for accountants, he has fulfilled a Blair-like role of managing relations with an all-powerful US-run operation and been a reforming force at home. Clearly, there's a steely core to his subtle consensual skills.
Nick Land is a hard man to place. With his swish of still-blond hair, tight smile and fidgety fingers, he looks a lot younger than his 55 years and talks a lot younger too, with none of the gravitas and certainty of age but with a rather likable hesitancy of speech. A typical Land sentence will start, stop, reconsider, choose a new verb, march on till it grinds to a halt again, tease out a new meaning. Sometimes it's a bit like dragging a cart through heavy mud.
But he likes to get it right, which is what his clients expect, and he is not afraid to say what he thinks. As chairman of the UK arm of Ernst & Young, the accountant/consultant group, he has headed his profession for longer than he may care to remember. Made senior partner in 1995, chairman since 1999, Land is a survivor in a trade that has been through the mangle in the past three years.