I have worked in Finance across many different sectors of industry and commerce for over 25 years now, the last 13 years as a Finance Director (and, on occasion, MD), and first began Interim FD work in early 2004 (and am now MD of my own company, Intervallum Limited, that provides Interim FD services both directly to companies and also via Private Equity houses and banks).
I have always been ambitious and had a desire to do everything I am involved in to the best of my abilities to see how far I could push myself. For example, a band I founded in the sixth form of my Grammar school back in 1982 was signed by a record label and had a number of releases in the mid-eighties, touring the UK & Europe, finally leading me to make a record which included the likes of Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones, Chris “Handbags and Glad Rags” Farlowe, PP Arnold, Reg Presley of The Troggs and Steve Cradock from Ocean Colour Scene (and Paul Weller’s band) when I was MD and owner of a record label and music publishing business.
And so this ambition and desire has always been prevalent in my professional life. I have always been thoroughly fascinated by business and started my career with my first junior role in a company back in 1983. After performing all the various roles in an accounts department to cement my understanding, I undertook the exams of the Association of Accounting Technicians which, although an excellent qualification in its own right, was my pathway to the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. My interest was always within the decision making process of taking a business forward so the audit route was never an option for me.
To broaden the academic side of my business education after seven years of accountancy exams, in line with my continued experience in the work place, I then undertook an MBA at Edinburgh Business School via the Heriot Watt University. This was mainly done off campus as by this time, 1997, I was already Group Finance Director of a National Facilities Management Group (having previously been Group Chief Accountant and Acting Finance Director of a PLC that I moved from the USM to AIM in 1996).
It was shortly after graduating with an MBA that I became aware that the IoD had started the Director development courses that led to the worlds first (and currently only) professional qualification for Directors – the Chartered Director. It seemed obvious that ensuring Company Directors were correctly examined in their legal responsibilities and good corporate governance etc. could only be a positive thing from the point of view of investors and stakeholders. Thus, enrolling on this path myself, I became the Institute’s 25th Chartered Director early in the new millennium.
So there the journey ends……..or does it? Well – not quite. With my desire to remain current, competent and at the leading edge of business, I have continued with my professional development. I work on the basis that I have the ability to undertake any project or assignment – if I don’t have the first hand knowledge or experience myself, then I am not afraid to go back to a classroom environment or pick-up the phone to someone in my network to close this gap and get the job done – after all, no one within business knows all there is to know on the subject.
Furthermore. reading the financial press on a daily basis, along with monthly accountancy and business journals, and attending relevant seminars and training courses is key, as far as I am concerned, to remaining relevant. In the same way that a sports person spends hours a week practising the skills to remain at the top of their game, so a Director needs to continuously ensure that they are up to date with current legislation, trends and developments within business.
I believe networking to be of huge importance too – not for the instant referrals that the lower end networking groups aim for, but in building lasting relationships with good quality business people and professionals who you come to trust and on whose opinion you can rely on.
So the ambition continues. I wake up every morning with the same question in my head, “What can I do today to make my mark on the world?”