Rise early or work late?
Naturally I tend to rise early, which is particularly good in the summer when you can sit in the garden for an hour before even needing to think about the commute! I have learned not to send too many emails when I am working outside core hours – it can put pressure on people to respond when often things can wait. I prefer to use early starts for planning or thinking time, something that can often be hard to find time for in a busy, growing business.
Training preferences: on the job or formal?
Both have a place. I personally value hands-on experience as I like to see how things work in the real world. Carving time out for formal training is often valuable though – for me it just depends on how important the people interactions are to making what you learn come to life.
What’s your management style?
I’m pretty relaxed and like to see people succeed, which includes stretching them beyond what they themselves think they are capable of. To allow for that, the basic structures and processes need to be really well embedded so that people don’t stress about what they are moving beyond whilst they are building new skills.
Does delegation come easy?
Yes, because I am a little impatient when it comes to learning new things so I’m really aware I can’t do that if I don’t delegate! It’s so important when building a high performing team to ensure they can see what you do as a leader and learn while they are in safe environment so they can stretch their own expectations and experience.
Who do you rely on most?
My friends. I can be obsessive about my work as I love what I do and always relish the next challenge. Without my friends reminding me that there is more to life than the office I would struggle to switch off.
Boardroom or restaurant?
I’m a firm believer that it is people that make business interesting and this is never more evident than when meeting customers and partners over a good meal. Getting to know what motivates people to build their businesses and how we can support and accelerate that is exciting, and keeps me focused – our business has to remain agile and creative. Any growing business will need to introduce more process and structure, but ensuring that happens without losing flexibility and creativity is what will help us maintain our winning edge. Boardroom discussions offer an essential barometer of how we balance those needs for structure and creativity.
What technology would you never be without?
My iPad. The ability to connect with all parts of life from one simple looking device still astounds me.
Are you an FD for life?
I think so. It’s a privileged role as you get visibility across all aspects of a business and how important it is that they all work together like clockwork. I am in awe of my colleagues with their specific skill sets and am happy to create the environment to help us all succeed as a team.
What keeps you awake at night?
The hourly chimes from the local clock tower can be an occasional menace.
Critical advice to aspiring FDs?
Never stop learning. Watch and learn from those around you – not just what they do but how they do it. Being true to yourself is key in any senior role so don’t just copy those you have seen succeed – add to your natural style by absorbing the strengths and skills of those around you. And don’t forget to enjoy it – being a core part of a business’ success story really is something to be proud of.