Rise early or work late?
Rise early. There are so many benefits to being the early bird. It makes me more productive as I can take advantage of the quietness and beat the rush hour. Waking up early has also been shown to affect your mood as it helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Early mornings also give me more time to organise and plan my day, and room for me to prepare the most important meal of the day – breakfast. Working late may still creep into the productive day, but rising early certainly staves of the need in most circumstances.
Training preferences: on the job or formal?
Both on-the-job and formal training have their benefits. However, I prefer actually being on the ground working with professionals where you are able to oversee everything at work, asking questions and reviewing the situation as you go along. The business also benefits by ensuring that training is specific to the job and as a result they are more effective with less down time.
What’s your management style?
I would call myself a predictive manager. Reactive management deals with problems and issues as they arise, which when implemented effectively can resolve a given problem or situation quickly. However, as a predictive manger, I focus on identifying risk areas and anticipate the likely outcome of the risks should they come to fruition, thus focusing on reducing the number of situations that will require reactive management.
Does delegation come easy?
Not always. However, delegation is a really important sign of a good leader. The person in charge cannot possibly carryout and complete every task themselves – they need to be able to get work completed through others. The most important thing to know is whom to delegate to and when. You should make sure you know exactly what needs to be accomplished before you give the task to someone else and their competencies to ensure the minimum of oversight is required by you.
Who do you rely on most?
I have a support structure that I rely upon. This consists of my work team and my family. My career success would not be possible without either, one needs to establish this support structure to ensure that you can clearly focus on your career and the work at hand with a clear head and drive with the minimum of distractions.
Boardroom or restaurant?
Personally, I prefer to hold fewer, but much more focused boardroom meetings. However, depending on what is being discussed, a boardroom is best for when you are discussing general strategy or making key decisions. Whereas, a general update and business catch-up can sometimes be more effective over an informal lunch where the atmosphere is usually more relaxed and occasionally creative.
What technology would you never be without?
I really cannot do without technology, in particularly my Smartphone and my laptop as both allow me to keep abreast of business developments through emails and news items whilst managing my busy business itinerary by tracking my appointments. It is essentially my life-line to the world. Staying connected means I am never too far to respond and support our business at all levels and clients adding value to the services we provide.
Are you an FD for life?
I thoroughly enjoy my role at The Shield Group as it allows me to fully utilise my broad skills and experience. The role is rewarding as you are fully aware that your leadership, strategic planning and ability to develop professionally has a direct impact on the success and progress of the company as it continues to evolve.
What keeps you awake at night?
My most critical concerns are that of strategy, growth, and resultant technological and working capital needs to support this. As the company grows, there is greater emphasis on better integration between offices and departments and more relevance placed on systems and timely information provision to enable near real time decisions to be made.
Critical advice to aspiring FDs?
Being a strong communicator is often important in all walks of life but more so as a financial director. Winning the confidence and respect of your colleagues across the business is vital to your success along with other key stakeholders such as private equity houses and banks.
I often encourage aspiring FDs to consider securing varied roles where they can experience many new sector types with different exposures perhaps such as a role in investor relations, treasury or a complex group to gain valuable experience so they emerge as much more rounded commercial business leader, as FD’s so often expected to be these days.