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FD Q&A: Ronnie Smith, Six Degrees Group

Ronnie Smith, FD of Six Degrees Group, speaks to Financial Director in our monthly Q&A

01. Rise early or work late?
I definitely prefer to work late, and I aim to have some family time earlier in the evening. Success comes to those who prepare well and put in effort, but I wouldn’t say that always means being the early bird.

02. Training preferences: on the job or formal?
It depends on the role. Most of our department are senior, where it’s taken for granted that they have the formal qualifications. So for Six Degrees, it’s on the job, as that’s where you experience a lot of the interesting stuff. Some learning just can’t be done in a formal or classroom setting.

03. What is your management style?
Employ the right people and intervene as little as possible. Most of the people that report to me are qualified accountants but have different strengths.

04. Does delegation come easy?
No – particularly for the stuff I enjoy the most. The pace at Six Degrees Group is curing me of this bad habit, as the business is going so fast and I have a team who are keen to learn and develop.

05. Who do you rely on most?
The management team at Six Degrees, most of whom I worked with at my previous company, SpiriTel, before we set up Six Degrees. The finance team, and our company secretary. Having people I know and trust means I can rely on them with confidence – and not forgetting my wife.

06. Boardroom or restaurant?
I try to do both: have a board meeting followed by dinner. Often, the more relaxed restaurant environment encourages a different sort of conversation and throws up different ideas.

07. What technology would you never be without?
I know it is a cliche?, but my iPad has been a great investment. It is a quick way to browse the web and deal with emails. And I am trying to go paperless and so use my iPad for note-taking.

08. Are you an FD for life?
For the moment I am, as I enjoy what I do immensely. As an FD, finding the right CEO and a team that exceeds the sum of the parts is essential. Alastair Mills, CEO of Six Degrees, and I have worked together for six years and complement each other brilliantly.

09. What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep fairly well. My children are young and tucked up in bed, so no worries there.

10. Your critical advice to would-be FDs
Find a role, and a sector, that you enjoy. Finding enjoyment in your work makes it easier to find that “little bit extra”. Working with good people is important. I would also recommend being clear on the type of organisation. Some might be suited to corporate, public sector, family-owned or multi-national subsidiary. It takes all sorts.

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