Monday, 30 December 2013

‘The Key to Career Success’ – Free CIMA Event in Stafford on 21st January 2014

Do you ever wonder if your career is progressing in the best direction and at the right pace?

Imagine realising in the future that, although you survived, you never really thrived.

Too many people limit their career success unnecessarily because of: -

Not knowing what to do next and how to make things happen

Staying stuck because of past failure in trying to find or secure a desired role

Not clearly recognising their own capabilities and potential.

This session offers practical steps you can take to build a career that makes the most of your passion and potential.

Topics covered will include: -

The importance of purpose and personal brand

How to write a compelling CV

Succeeding in job interviews

Positioning yourself for pay rises and promotion

Building a great professional network

Tapping into the hidden job market.

Drawing upon his personal journey, along with 20 years’ experience encompassing recruitment, outplacement, career guidance, HR consulting and leadership mentoring and coaching, Peter Milligan brings his own perspective on how you can go further than you might have previously thought possible. This event will include group interaction and a question and answer session.

Date: 21 January 2014 

Location:  Mercure Hatherton House Hotel, Stafford ST19 5QP

Price: Free

Time: 6.30 for 7.00pm

Buffet served on arrival

Speaker Details

Peter Milligan, Director of New Generation Leaders, brings expertise, energy and inspiration to people in the three areas of leadership, communication and career development.

A corporate psychologist with a background in selecting and developing business leaders and teams since 1992, Peter was among the first in Australia to develop executive coaching as a service for organisational leaders. Over the past two decades, his support and challenge has enabled hundreds of people in Australia and the UK to produce changes and results that would not have otherwise happened so quickly. Peter’s coaching is characterised by passion, empathy, humour, and plain speaking.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Lord Digby Jones in top form at the Birmingham Business Breakfast Club

Paul Hooper-Keeley & Lord Digby Jones at the BBBC 17th October
It is always a packed Botanical Gardens when Lord Digby Jones, a founder member of the Birmingham Business Breakfast Club, returns to his roots and his “constituency”, and this week was no exception.

One of the most passionate public speakers supporting British business, and the up-skilling of our school children and our workforce, Digby always has a special place in his heart for the West Midlands and, in particular, Birmingham - which he describes as “the greatest City in the world”.

And passion was to the fore at this BBBC event where Lord Jones (quite rightly) laid in to Ed Miliband’s pledge that a Labour government would freeze energy prices for at least 2 years. As Digby said, this is clearly an attempt at populist vote winning – Tesco have a higher net profit percentage than the energy firms but Ed Miliband is not suggesting a freeze on food prices (obviously not a vote winner). He also made the point that a potential Labour government that makes soundings about interfering with business will clearly scare off foreign investment in to the UK to the possible benefit of France, Germany, Spain etc.

Digby said aspiration is a good thing and it is wrong for Ed Miliband to demonise big business as a bad thing to the general public. He reinforced the point that we would be nowhere without business – business provides the jobs that provides the taxes for the government and the public sector to exist (to create more jobs and taxes (and benefit payments!!!)). He said politicians always focus on the spending of money (i.e. spending cuts, spending restraints etc.) when they should really be looking at the earning of the money.

For those of you, like me, who have seen Digby speak on several occasions and have read his excellent book, ‘Fixing Britain’, I can tell you that the long un-scripted speech that he made at the BBBC is an ‘all new’ set of anecdotes, opinions and insights that he has experienced over the last few months (his poor recent customer experiences with BT and the Passport Office were in the funny but sadly true category).

Lord Jones is currently working on a new series of programmes with the BBC on the British Manufacturing Industry in which he will be helping companies in the Sir John Harvey Jones ‘Trouble-shooter’ style (with the caveat that each show starts with a positive narrative of British Industry before the main body of the programme). He told us that the series is due to be aired in March 2014.

And, as is often the case with Digby, all proceeds from the morning’s events were donated to charity (with the Ladies Breast Cancer Charity being the main worthy recipient).

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Michael Portillo’s keynote address was one of the highlights of The 2013 Finance Director’s Forum from 9th – 12th October

Paul Hooper-Keeley & Michael Portillo
Well done to Richmond Events for making this year’s FD’s Forum arguably the best yet.

Boarding the Aurora at 2pm on Wednesday 9th, we were efficiently checked in to our cabins where a full itinerary for the event was waiting. As a speaker at one of the events, my first task was to visit the events office to confirm the technical elements before then joining my colleague FDs for afternoon tea, welcome on board words from Mark Rayner and our muster drill (maritime law).

We were joined by the Marketing, IT and Communication Director delegates in the theatre for the first keynote speech of the event – the very entertaining Michael Portillo. Due to Chatham House Rules I won’t comment too much as to the content of his speech, entitled ‘Britain and Europe – coalition and rupture’ – suffice to say that it was very well received by the audience. He did make the point that he sees himself as an entertainer these days and that he has no desire to return to the political fold; enjoying the freedom he now has to voice his opinion as he sees fit.

David Smith & Paul Hooper-Keeley
My session, the ‘Words From The Wise’ panel was first up after breakfast on Thursday. Facilitated by David Smith, Economics Editor of The Sunday Times, my colleagues on the panel were Mark Freebairn (Partner at head-hunter Odgers Berndtson), Dave Mottram (FD at Siemens plc) and Richard Turner (CFO of Abu Dhabi Ship Building). It proved to be an interesting session – like Question Time for FDs.

The schedule I had then featured Mark Freebairn’s ‘Rising to the top – the skills to take you there’ presentation followed by David Smith’s ‘Global Economic Outlook’. All delegates came together for the next keynote session, ‘Optimising human performance: learn how to operate by understanding your mind’. This lively and fast-paced keynote was given by Dr Steve Peters who worked with the Team GB Cycling team leading up to London 2012 (and currently works with Ronnie O’Sullivan) and introduced us all to our ‘Inner Chimp’.

Post lunch we were treated to the corporate benefits of The Cheese & Wine Company by founder Steve Parker in a blind tasting session called England versus France. Steve is very knowledgeable on his subject and this was a really good session. We then had a session entitled ‘Develop Mental Toughness – the winning mind-set of champions’ before going off to undertake several supplier meetings on a one-to-one basis.

Paul Hooper-Keeley & Phil Tufnell
Friday’s sessions for me included ‘Being remarkable starts with me – how to inspire those around you’, ‘Pricing Policy Performance’ and Andrew Sawers discussion group on ‘The requirements and attributes of a modern FD’. In the middle of several supplier meetings was the days’ keynote address from Cranfield University’s Professor Stephen Carver, ‘How not to make a catastrophe out of a crisis’, which was very well presented and entertaining. The final night’s dinner was followed by ‘An audience with Phil Tufnell’, which was hosted by sports presenter Alison Mitchell and was a very lively end to the evening indeed.

Overall this was a very intensive 3-day forum, running from approx. 7.30am to 11.00pm with very little free-time, which is exactly how it should be to maximise the return on those precious few days out of the office. Well done Richmond Events and it will be interesting to see how they plan to top this in 2014.

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.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

‘Memory Techniques’ - CIMA North West Midlands FOC event on Wednesday 25th September in Stoke-on-Trent

Event Description

Ever spent days preparing for a presentation, or months learning difficult topics for an examination, only to be let down on the day by missing out an important summary or forgetting a vital formula?  This event will teach you various quick and powerful techniques to help you maximise your memory skills. These techniques are simple to learn and can be used instantly to improve your performance.

Speaker details - Gamel Taher

Gamel worked for several years as an auditor before finding his vocation as a lecturer in 1999. He specialises in financial and performance management, and over the last 14 years has helped thousands of students pass their ACCA and CIMA examinations. Gamel successfully manages to breakdown complicated topics in a way that makes them easy to understand, and combines a perfect balance of practical examples and exam techniques ensuring that his courses are both enjoyable and invaluable.
Venue/Time etc.

Ashley Conference Centre, Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2DF

6.30pm for 7.00pm

No charge.  Buffet served on arrival

Email to book your free place.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Jason Wouhra to give main presentation at the CIMA Site Visit to East End Foods plc, Birmingham, on Monday 9th September

CIMA North West Midlands

Visit to East End Foods plc

Join us for a visit to East End Foods plc, which is one of the most technologically advanced wholesalers in the area with state-of-the-art facilities and no less than 16 EPOS enabled checkouts. A massive £10m has been spent to create one of the largest trade only cash and carry's in the country with 120,000square feet of wholesale sales area.

The evening will start with a presentation from Jason Wouhra on the background of East End Foods and the company as it is today and their view for future growth. This will be followed with Q & A session. There will then be a site tour.  


Jason Wouhra, Director and Company Secretary, East End Foods plc and Regional Chair of the IoD in the West Midlands.

East End Foods Plc, Upper Thomas Street, Aston, Birmingham B6 5AD

6.00 for 6.30pm

No charge – refreshments served on arrival
Email to book your free place.
Mon 9 Sept
East End Foods Plc, Birmingham
B6 5AD
Price: GBP 0.00



Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Vince Cable to speak at IoD West Midlands Annual Lecture & Dinner on Thursday 7th November

The IoD Coventry and Warwickshire Branch has announced details of its keynote event for 2013: The 2013 West Midlands IoD Annual Lecture and Dinner in Aid of Cancer Research.

“We welcome two guest speakers, The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Minister of State for the Department of Business Innovation and Graeme Leach, IoD head of Policy and Chief Economist.”

The event will be held at the National Motorcycle Museum and pre-diinner drinks and canap├ęs will be served from 7-7.45pm in the museum while you admire the largest collection of British motorcycles in the world. Dinner follows in the Compton Suite from 7.45-10.30pm

This will be an exceptional opportunity to entertain important guests in prestigious surroundings and to share informed discussion relating to the UK economy and world moving forward

Dress code is Black Tie.

Tickets are priced at £75 for members and £85 for non members

To book tables and take advantage of members’ early bird offer of a table for 10 at £625 +VAT before September 30,  please email

Thursday, 4 July 2013

CIMA & Institute of Directors Exclusive Joint Visit to RAF Cosford’s Museum on Tuesday 3rd December 2013 commencing at 6.15pm

Join us on the evening of Tuesday 3rd December at 6.15pm (after the museum has closed to the general public) for an exclusive visit to the RAF Cosford Museum.

The Royal Air Force Museum, home to one of the largest and most impressive collections of aviation history, is an impressive and truly unique venue. The National Cold War Exhibition is the first major exhibition telling the story of the cold war period, with exhibits and aircraft not seen anywhere else in the world. Here you can stand beneath the wings of Britain’s V-Bombers; the Valiant, Vulcan and Victor.

Organised as a joint event between the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in the North West Midlands and the Institute of Directors, this event is open to Members, students and friends/guests (everyone welcome), although numbers may be limited, subject to demand.

For a small fee of £7.50, the evening will commence with a buffet meal in the Visitor Centre before museum tour guides take small groups (maximum number of 15 visitors per guide) on a guided tour of the War Planes and Test Flight Hangar and the National Cold War Exhibition. The event/tours will conclude at approx. 9pm.

To book your place on this exclusive CIMA/IoD visit to view our fascinating aeronautical heritage, please contact

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Free Joint CIMA/ILM ‘Emerging Leaders’ event on 5th June at Cannock in the West Midlands – Guests Welcome

‘The danger zone for emerging leaders: avoid common costly mistakes’

This is a joint event between the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Leadership and Management for members, students and guests (i.e. all welcome).

Venue: Roman Way Hotel, Watling Street, Hatherton, Cannock WS11 1SH

Date: Wednesday 5th June 2013

Time: 6.30 for 7.00pm

No charge - Buffet served on arrival

Booking: Email to book your free place

Event Details: -

Whether you are an emerging leader or someone seeking to attract and develop top talent for your organisation you need to know the classic pitfalls. Drawing from extensive research into why many 'high potentials' end up failing, Peter Milligan shows you the steps you can take to minimise the risks.

Benefits from the talk to individuals include: -

Successful career progression.

Increased confidence and effectiveness.

Achieving more with less stress.

Effectively handling corporate 'politics'.

Becoming great leaders.

Benefits to organisations include: -

Less wasted time and energy.

Improved staff morale and commitment.

Attracting, developing and retaining quality people.

Real teamwork.

Better customer service.

Speaker Details: -

Peter Milligan, Director of New Generation Leaders, brings expertise, energy and inspiration to people in the three areas of leadership, communication and career development.

A corporate psychologist with a background in selecting and developing business leaders and teams since 1992, Peter was among the first in Australia to develop executive coaching as a service for organisational leaders. Over the past two decades, his support and challenge has enabled hundreds of people in Australia and the UK to produce changes and results that would not have otherwise happened so quickly. Peter’s coaching is characterised by passion, empathy, humour, and plain speaking. As a professional speaker, his larger audiences benefit from these same qualities.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Joint CIMA / IoD 'Unlocking Business Intelligence' Event in Stoke on Wednesday 24th April

Business Intelligence (BI) is an essential tool in helping finance professionals add value to their organisation.

This event would be helpful to anyone who wants to:
  • Know how to add value to their business
  • Understand best practice in creating business intelligence
  • Move to fact based decision making
  • Learn how to get buy-in from sales and executives
Areas of business that the talk would be advantageous for are:
  • Management reporting - adding value and empowering users with BI
  • CFO level - adding value, fact based decision making and investment in BI
  • IT management - infrastructure and integrity of BI databases and empowering users
  • Head of sales - moving to fact-based decision making

Peter Simons is a CIMA member who had over 30 years experience in business before joining CIMA as a member of staff in 2006.
The CIMA qualification enabled Peter to achieve career progression through roles in strategy, corporate lending, credit management and marketing at Bank of Ireland. He was the head of a division and on the bank’s senior management team in London when he left in 2002 to become the Managing Director of an entrepreneurial small business.
Peter is now the technical specialist in the applied research unit in CIMA’s education department. He works with employers, consultants, software vendors and academics to explore the future roles of organisations’ in-house finance professionals. He also helps to develop CIMA’s expertise in performance management. Peter’s research contributes to the development of the CIMA syllabus and he works with colleagues across CIMA’s value chain to support members

Date and Time: -
Wed 24 April
6.00 for 6.30pm
Buffet served from 6.00 with talk at 6.30pm

Venue: -
Ashley Conference Centre, Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DF

To book your place, email Julie Witts at 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

CNC Training Academy scoops top MTA Award for best Industry Training Provider.

The CNC Training Academy, the independent training arm of Mills CNC, has won the coveted MTA Manufacturing Industry Award for the best Industry Training Provider.

The announcement was made at the MTA Annual Gala Dinner (held at the ICC in Birmingham on 27th March 2013) and the award was presented to Jeff Hart (CNC Training Academy Manager) and Karen Early (CNC Academy Trainer) by Sky News’ Charlotte Hawkins who hosted the event and awards presenter Professor Alan Myers, University of Huddersfield..

The award for best Industry Training Provider, unlike some awards where entries are judged by a panel of experts, was decided by a public vote and relied on previous course attendees from all shortlisted training provider companies to cast their votes online.

Says Jeff Hart:

“I am delighted to have received the award on behalf of the CNC Training Academy team.

“What’s more gratifying however is that previous Academy course attendees took the time and were motivated to vote for us. I think that demonstrates the positive experience they had from attending our courses, and that they valued the training that was delivered.

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us and for their continuing support.”

Established in 2010, the CNC Training Academy provides high-quality, professionally-delivered and cost-competitive CNC Programmer and Operator training to precision manufacturers in the UK and Ireland and, increasingly, to unemployed adults looking to retrain and find employment in the manufacturing sector.

Over the last three years the CNC Training Academy has seen interest and take-up of its basic and advanced Fanuc, Heidenhain and Siemens CNC Programmer courses and its range of specialist courses soar.

In 2012 demand for its courses hit an all-time high with over 425 people from some 170 different companies being trained at the Academy’s modern, state-of-the-art facility in Leamington or off-site at customers’ premises).

The figures represent a 25% increase in the total number of customers trained during the same period in 2011 and a 30% increase in the number of companies using the Academy for their CNC training requirements.

All indications suggest that 2013 is well on its way to being the best year ever for the Academy.

Comments Jeff Hart, CNC Training Academy Manager:

“There has been an increase in demand for all of our courses (from basic right through to our advanced and specialist courses), and our new, short introductory Milling and Turning Programmer and Operator training courses are proving very popular.

‘Reading between the lines it would appear that many UK and Irish manufacturing companies have invested in training to improve the skills of their people and to help them cope with and capitalise on the continuing economic upturn being experienced in manufacturing.

Their need for professionally-delivered, high-added value training is leading them to select the CNC Training Academy as their training provider.’