What did you want to be when you were a child?Mal Ashcroft R

A National Park Ranger – I always loved being outdoors and amongst nature.

Tell us a little about your career path

I was at KPMG from 1995 – 2012 where I established, and was the National Leader of, the CFO Advisory Business. Then Leighton Holdings where I was Group Deputy CFO and Group Executive - Business Transformation. I joined Primary Health Care in 2015 as Group CFO and have also been Group Executive – Strategy, Mergers & Acquisition, Information Technology, Property & Risk Management and was Acting CEO from May 2017 to September 2017.

What keeps you awake at night?

Striking the right balance between driving organisational change, the pace of change, the level of execution, risk and delivery with sustainability for staff.

What has been a career high?

Making partner at KPMG at the age of 30 and taking on the Acting CEO role at Primary in 2017.

Any lows?

The Global Financial Crisis significantly impacted a number of my clients in the financial services sector – both on a business and personal level. Lots of life lessons learned through this difficult period.

How far out can a CFO plan, given the pace of change at present? And what are the implications of that planning horizon?

Planning horizons are always dictated by organisational circumstances and context. Whilst the pace of change is shortening planning timeframes, I’m still a strong supporter of annual budgeting and multi-year business planning albeit with a requirement to flex and challenge plans on a monthly and more in-depth quarterly basis.

Why do you mentor?

I have always enjoyed coaching/mentoring throughout my career and have been fortunate to have been mentored by a range of people who were good enough to invest in me and offer advice. It’s important to me to remember where you came from and how people helped you along the way.

What was the best advice you ever received?

The only person who should ever put boundaries/road blocks on what you want to be/achieve should be yourself. Never let anyone else limit your horizon.

How do you switch off?

Switching off for me is about your priorities in life and being clear about what is important to you. For me, family and other interests outside of work are critically important.

Can you share a personal productivity tip?

I believe you need to find the right balance in your life which for me includes regular exercise, good diet and healthy sleeping patterns. I find when I get these factors right I am best placed to get the most out of my days.

And a networking tip?

“Say yes” attitude as a rebuttable position. We are all very busy and it’s easy to find a reason not to attend functions. It’s incredibly rare that I don’t enjoy attending events or don’t take something away from networking.

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