Sunday, 6 October 2013

Paul Hooper-Keeley Q&As in the current issue of Financial Director magazine

Financial Director Magazine – Q&A

Paul Hooper-Keeley
Finance Director
Mills CNC Limited

01.   Rise early or work late? A bit of both. I am normally at my desk for 7.30am as I feel my thought processes are at their sharpest in the morning for problem solving etc. and tend to schedule the majority of my meetings for afternoons.

02.   Training preferences: on the job or formal? For specific job related skill sets then on the job training is better as it can be bespoked to suit. However, I am also a stickler for formal training at the professional level (I am currently Chairman of CIMA in the North West Midlands (and sit on the West Midlands Regional Board) and am the Institute of Directors’ West Midlands Ambassador for their Chartered Director qualification (being the IoD’s 25th Chartered Director myself) so push professional qualifications quite hard) – thus, I have no time for recruitment agencies telling me of great accountants ‘qualified by experience’!

03.   What’s your management style? To build the best team possible and empower them with the responsibility and authority to undertake their work flows, ensuring that they have time to think and reflect on what they’re doing (which I believe is a key principle but often missing from the manic schedules of many companies).

04.   Does delegation come easy? Yes – I want to keep my team undertaking the most interesting work possible whilst I progress chase to ensure deadlines and targets are met.

05.   Who do you rely on most? My Financial Controller – a successful FD needs the best FC possible to take on the heavy lifting on a day-to-day basis. This allows me to contribute more to the Board at a strategic level and get involved in all areas of the business.

06.   Boardroom or restaurant? The formality and organisational aspect of my role leans heavily towards the Boardroom scenario, although my commercial and networking side sees the restaurant as an excellent and less formal environment for building lasting business relationships.

07.   What technology would you never be without? My smartphone to ensure I can pick up emails and stay in the loop wherever I am in the world, LinkedIn to keep in touch with my network, and Excel because, at the end of the day, I am an accountant and it’s a great tool.

08.   Are you an FD for life? I am a Commercial FD who gets involved in all aspects of the business in order to provide solutions and generate growth (as opposed to the old fashioned ‘bean-counter’ FD whose main role was to say “No”). Thus, my natural inclination is to transcend to MD of a business at an appropriate point in the future if the opportunity arises.

09.   What keeps you awake at night? Nothing significant at Mills CNC Limited as I feel we have an excellent team throughout the business who all work towards the company’s goals. Although in the past, when I have been involved in M&A and turnaround work, I’ve often woken up thinking about cash (or the lack of it).

10.   Critical advice to aspiring FDs? Focus on cash – ensure your EBITDA to Operating Cash conversion ratio is running north of 85%. At the end of the day, all business successes and failures come down to cash so keep it on your radar at all times. Also commercialism – get involved across the business with a ‘can do’ attitude towards supporting controlled growth and generating cash.

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