‘Being in finance is wider than the numbers; sound commercial reasoning, enabling teams and individuals to be their best, and communicating across all levels of an organisation are key enablers for success.’
I followed the traditional route of studying to be an accountant with Ernst & Young, where I gained my ACCA qualification. Working there provided me with a real breadth and exposure to different types of businesses from smaller subsidiaries to large multinationals. They all had one thing in common; the importance of the finance teams in ensuring the strategic and day to day running of the businesses.
I was approached to join Experian at the time when they were demerging from GUS Home Shopping. I was involved in many different areas; investor relations work, multiple acquisitions, setting up a whole new finance structure and providing technical finance training in multiple countries. The commonality this time, was being able to communicate and explain the world of finance to a hugely diverse set of stakeholders.
Wanting a role that was more all-encompassing and enabled me to get my arms around both day to day keeping of the books, commercial support and finance strategy, I moved to Boots International (think Boots in multiple countries other than the UK – a collection of small businesses). This lead to me being appointed as the Head of Boots in various of their small overseas markets and also leading the launch of Boots online in multiple countries. Working in such a non-finance role provided me with the insight and ability to truly be able to work effectively and guide non-finance people. Helping to coach others to improve their finance / business acumen or coaching finance professionals to be more rounded business leaders.
I am however a finance person at heart so took on the role of Finance Director for the own brand business within the wider Boots organisation (brands such as No7). An incredibly commercial and strategic role working alongside the business to formulate product development pipelines, marketing, launch plans and setting up basic finance processes along the way. Presenting at No7 conferences being a highlight, with a 300 strong audience varying from store colleagues to group board members – communication again being key.
More recently I have been putting in to practice all I have acquired over the years –Finance & Operations Director for a £25m a year medical company. High impact in a short period of time to reinvigorate the team, establish basic processes and reshape the financial strategy of this business, whilst bringing some much-needed general leadership (legacy I hope) to the future organisation.