Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Q&A: Hugh Watchorn, Bonhams

01. Rise early or work late?
Early riser. If working late, then I’m likely to do it at home.

02. Training preferences: on the job or formal?
I really believe that executives learn best by doing, and not in too academic a setting. While that might well work better for very technical roles, I think being an FD is far more practical – working in teams, juggling priorities, getting things done and learning how best to impart information and influence strategy. I am also a great fan on one-to-one executive coaching. Some may see this as an indulgence that is hard to justify, but I think great things can be achieved if you match the coach to the executive really well.

03. What is your management style?
Collaborative and instinctive. I try to make decisions without too much prevarication.

04. Does delegation come easy?
Yes, but only if you have people around you who you can trust.

05. Who do you rely on most?
My team. The CFO role should be about driving performance, influencing strategy and working with people in the business to help ensure delivery of key objectives. To do this, the CFO needs to know that all the key day-to-day stuff is being managed well. He mustn’t feel he needs to look over his shoulder and worry about where things are going wrong. Without this in place, I think it is almost impossible to excel in the role.

06. Boardroom or restaurant?
Both, but it depends on precisely what is being discussed.

07. What technology would you never be without?
My BlackBerry and my iPod.

08. Are you an FD for life?
No. There are many things that I want to do – some paid, some not – but most of all I would like to work on a variety of things concurrently. And doing that would really preclude me from maintaining my role as a finance director through to retirement – not that I ever really plan to retire.

09. What keeps you awake at night?
At the moment, I am really concerned with so many young people in Europe and America not having jobs. It is so bad, on so many levels.

10. Your critical advice to would-be FDs?
Don’t forget to look towards emerging markets in the east and keep communicating.