Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » FD Q&A: Novatech’s Duncan Payne-Shelley

1. Rise early or work late?
I place high value on time with my young children so I get up at five, clear my inbox and prepare for the day, do some exercise then get the kids up and have breakfast with them. I take my son to school then am at the office between 8.30am and 9am. I leave shortly after 6pm normally, have dinner with my family then usually do a bit of work later at night – planning time! And repeat.

2. Training preferences: on the job or formal?
The commercial nature of my role means that all the training I need takes place at work dealing with the day-to-day issues that come with a vibrant growing company. I also use a small number of contacts as mentors from my former life in corporate finance.

3. What’s your management style?
I’m very coercive and wear my heart on my sleeve, which makes me easy to read but demanding. I lead by example and find that I don’t often need to over-rule managers to achieve things in a way that I find acceptable. I see a large part of my role as ensuring that my managers are empowered and equipped to get the most out of their teams.

4. Does delegation come easy?
I’m getting much better, although am naturally a control freak. I encourage everyone here to play to their strengths, which makes delegation easier if lines of reporting are properly adhered to.

5. Who do you rely on most?
I rely on my finance controller to run the finance function within the company, which allows me to focus on strategic development, legal / professional issues and people. Our core board is strong and we each have clear strengths with little overlap – operations, technical development, sales and then me to cover everything else.

6. Boardroom or restaurant?
It depends on the discussion. Most “political” discussions and general strategic debate takes place over lunch, with structured minuted discussions deliberately held in the boardroom, where access to data needed for more in depth decision-making is easier to access.

7. What technology would you never be without?
iPhone and one of Novatech’s excellent slim laptops.

8. Are you an FD for life?
I enjoy this FD role because it allows me to explore the areas of my skillset that are naturally stronger – leadership, strategic development, people and analysis.

9. What keeps you awake at night?
Young children and a brain that won’t switch off. This is largely because I am so excited about driving growth our of our company and seeing how quickly and professionally we can build on the solid foundations that we now have in place. We are a very nimble and creative senior team that embrace, develop and adopt relevant new ideas quickly, and that is very rewarding and exciting.

10. Critical advice to aspiring FDs?
Focus on relationships. A wider range of roles will become available through your network if you build the right relationships at the right levels. And if you stay within one company, building strong relationships will see you advance quicker and ultimately grow your company more effectively.