01: Rise early or work late?
There is often a decent amount of both. As an FD, you’re often up against tight deadlines so you need to work the hours required to get the job done.
02. Training preferences: on the job or formal?
I think most training should be on the job and I always encourage everyone to get as much hands-on experience as they can. This should then be supplemented with targeted formal training and as much reading as possible.
03. What’s your management style?
The best approach is to get the brightest people you can and give them the support and freedom to go into the business and find things that they can improve. I try to be as open as possible and provide a blame-free culture. Praise is also vital – if someone does well, I try to give them as much credit as possible.
04. Does delegation come easy?
Someone once told me that whatever came across their desk, their first thought was, ‘Who can I give this to?’ Delegation is the best way to free up your time and develop your people. It’s not always easy to do but it is powerful.
05. Who do you rely on most?
I rely heavily on my team to provide me with information and analysis and to get the right things done. I also rely on the management team and the whole business to work together.
06. Boardroom or restaurant?
I don’t think the location matters – it’s the contact that is important. Email should be avoided – it’s much better to pick up the phone or meet face to face. I find this helps build relationships.
07. What technology would you never be without?
It would have to be my Windows Phone. I do a fair amount of travelling and being in contact is important when you’re out of the office.
08. Are you an FD for life?
I really enjoy the FD role as it gives real scope across the whole business. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to pick up a range of experience outside of finance. As long as the opportunity is there to keep doing that then I don’t think the title you have matters too much.
09. What keeps you awake at night?
Not a lot. If there is a problem, generally there is not a lot you can do about it until the morning.
10. Critical advice to aspiring FDs?
Have a strategy – understand where you/your business is, where you need to get to, and what you need to do to get there. Put information and analysis at the heart of every decision – it will drive better decisions and a better culture. Build a strong team – take every opportunity to improve, engage and empower your team.