Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Q&A: Paul Hooper-Keeley, FD, Mills CNC

01. Rise early or work late?

A bit of both. I am normally at my desk for 7.30am as I feel my thought processes are at their sharpest in the morning and tend to schedule my meetings for afternoons.

02. Training preferences: on the job or formal?

For job-related skill sets, on the job training is better as it can be bespoke to suit. However, I am also a stickler for formal training – I have no time for recruitment agencies telling me of great accountants ‘qualified by experience’.

03. What’s your management style?

To build the best team possible and empower them with the responsibility and authority to undertake their work flows, ensuring that they have time to reflect on what they’re doing (which I believe is a key principle but often missing from the manic schedules of many companies).

04. Does delegation come easy?

Yes – I want to keep my team undertaking the most interesting work possible while I ensure deadlines and targets are met.

05. Who do you rely on most?

My financial controller – a successful FD needs the best FC possible to take on the heavy lifting on a day-to-day basis. This allows me to contribute more to the board at a strategic level and get involved in all areas of the business.

06. Boardroom or restaurant?

The organisational aspect of my role leans heavily towards the boardroom scenario, although my commercial and networking side sees the restaurant as an excellent environment for building lasting business relationships.

07. What technology would you never be without?

My smartphone to ensure I can stay in the loop wherever I am, LinkedIn to keep in touch with my network, and Excel because I am an accountant and it’s a great tool.

08. Are you an FD for life?

I am a commercial FD who gets involved in all aspects of the business in order to generate growth. So my natural inclination is to ascend to the MD role if the opportunity arises.

09. What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing significant now as I feel we have an excellent team who all work towards our goals. But in the past, when I have been involved in M&A and turnaround work, I’ve often woken up thinking about cash (or the lack of it).

10. Critical advice to aspiring FDs?

Focus on cash. At the end of the day, all successes and failures come down to cash so keep it on your radar at all times. And get involved across the business with a ‘can do’ attitude towards supporting growth and generating cash.