What did you want to be when you grew up?
I am actually doing now what I always dreamt of doing. During school and university I enjoyed mathematics, commerce, and learning more about corporate strategy. At Ixom, I am leading a global finance function that is helping to guide and shape the business, to deliver our strategic aims.
Tell us a little about your career path and what led you to the finance function?
My original career path was as a quantity surveyor, however, I quickly migrated to accounting when I discovered the number of opportunities in finance was significantly greater. I have held my current position at Ixom since 2014. Prior to this, I worked at Village Roadshow for nine years and ten years at Ernst & Young.
If time travel was real what career advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
Do a PhD in History, travel more for pleasure and less for work, push harder in every aspect of life. I have a strong work ethic, I always say in my first seven years of work, I gained 15 years of experience (the hours were long!). In hindsight, that work has got me to where I am today, however, it’s important to recognise the times you can be self-indulgent and, education is certainly one of those.
It was fantastic to be recognised by my peers when I was awarded the Australian Young Chief Financial Officer of the Year in 2005, following a year mentoring under the FEI program.
Those business plans that didn’t quite work out and, of course, refinancing during the GFC.
The CFO role has changed dramatically in recent years, what further changes do you anticipate?
Finance teams of the future need to be increasingly agile and have the skills to evolve with the industries in which their employers operate, the number of disruptive business models continues to increase and some of those will make their way into the finance function itself.
How far out can a CFO plan, given the pace of change at present? And what are the implications of that planning horizon?
Every business model has a different risk reward profile that influences the planning and execution horizon. My main focus is how management has an impact over those different horizons. The short term quarter to quarter performance needs to been driven from BAU operating models, these need to be fixed quickly if you are not winning with customers. A lot of my time is focused on the 6-18 month horizon, which is generally about ensuring execution of key initiatives is properly supported and governed. Beyond that time frame, for me, it’s about highlighting key opportunities or risks in an organisation’s flight path that can be accelerated or deferred for long term competitive advantage.
Why do you mentor?
As my career has developed, I have increasingly recognised the value of coaching and mentoring. The FEI mentoring program is a two-way street, I hope to get as much out of the experience as the mentee by understanding how individuals at different levels view the organisations in which they work. Having been mentored myself by Ray Gunston over ten years ago now, I am pleased to give something back to others in the finance community.
What was the best advice you ever received?
“Nothing will come of nothing”: King Lear.
What would you say is the best business book ever read, and why?
The Zulu Principal by Jim Slater. The text is not knock out, but the key tenet has stuck with me since University, essentially how in a short period of time you can become a leader in a clearly defined area. It’s surprised me how real this is in life’s journey and how powerful if proactively managed.