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Q&A: John Alder, FD, accesso Technology Group

1. Rise early or work late?

Living in the US, where the substantial part of accesso’s revenues are derived and being the CFO of a UK listed company, has naturally led to early mornings as a way of life. Generally I look to synchronise with the UK and be answering emails by 6:15am. This also allows me to plan any actions into my day before the US comes to life.

2. Training preferences: on the job or formal?

From a personal perspective – always on the job, but with an element of formal training around technical or legislative updates.

3. What’s your management style?

Essentially, manage your team as you expect to be managed yourself. What I mean by that is I have always expected to make decisions and recommendations rather than passing an issue upwards or sideways and be totally accountable for my actions. In reality there will always be the odd bad call, but this shouldn’t be penalised for a common sense decision in the circumstances. That’s the style and ethos I try and deploy to my team.

4. Does delegation come easy?

It’s something I have had to work at during my career. I have come to recognise its critical importance in the fast growing business environments I have been involved with, where teams and processes need to be developed at a significant rate.

5. Who do you rely on most?

Success demands the right team of colleagues and advisors and you rely on different parts of that team at different times. Within the global technology sector that accesso operates, IP for example, is becoming a critical ongoing element of the value matrix. Aligned to that, a supportive CEO and board are crucial platform for the CFO to fully add value.

6. Boardroom or restaurant?

Horses for courses. Naturally certain business needs a more formal environment but winning hearts and minds, whether its customers, suppliers or colleagues is always more achievable away from the office.

7. What technology would you never be without?

Having taken about 90 transatlantic flights since becoming accesso’s CFO, the ability to stay connected while travelling, together with in-flight technological developments, have been transformational in terms of work and entertainment possibilities. Naturally I would also never visit a theme or water park without a utilising a accesso virtual queuing product!

8. Are you an FD for life?

That’s a good question. In terms of title probably, but the CFO role today has a far more commercial and strategic focus than my first role as CFO 15 years ago, and I don’t expect that trend to change. I particularly enjoy being part of defining and executing strategy in businesses that have ambition and energy within its DNA.

9. What keeps you awake at night?

Very little in reality, but it is normally the iterative thought process of ensuring we are maximising the opportunity. Accesso is an organisation of innovative, conscientious and hardworking teams and the board has a responsibility to define and execute a strategic vision to convert that to shareholder value. Working in the technology sector, the Holy Grail is all centered around the ability to generate a product or service with limitless scaleability.

10. Critical advice to aspiring FDs?

Focus on execution of projects and tasks that add value, and above everything else always maintain your integrity. Challenge everyone and everything (yourself, colleagues, processes, advice) and never ever ignore the detail or assume someone else is worrying about it. Never be afraid to ask ignorant questions or make mistakes, and remember that even with all the best planning in place it generally will be opportunistic events that make the biggest differences.

John Alder is FD of accesso Technology Group, which has recently rebranded from Lo-Q

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