Investigo Associate Director Giles McIntyre meets Ady Moores, Chief Financial Officer at P2i, to discuss his rise to the role of CFO.
How did you get to where you are today?
An inner hunger and drive to be successful and over achieve. Reaching out to respected senior individuals, become the trusted right hand man for your line manager, listen and learn from people around you. Learn all the soft skills, they are equally important. When moving jobs, keep in touch with previous mentors/ Coaches, use them as confidential sounding boards. Always be self-critical and looking to improve, the old adage of remembering every day is a school day, you can always learn something new. Finally be humble, in my view one of the most self-destructive personality traits in business and life is arrogance. The most important result is the team result, if the team loses, everyone loses.
If you weren’t CFO of P2i what would your dream career be?
RAF fighter pilot, every boy’s dream right?
What would you say are the key attributes a CFO needs to be successful?
Remember technical skills are a given, that just puts you in the game. The key attributes to success are confidence in your own abilities, the ability to listen (remember sometimes what you don’t say is equally as important as what you do say), receive and give constructive feedback to colleagues. Focus on the few key items that can make a difference and act upon them, an action orientated approach is essential, don’t assume others will see or do what is obvious to you. The ability to understand the detail, yet communicate in big picture, is critical.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in your career so far?
Time and managing it. Everyone can work more hours than the available in any given week. Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into unnecessary use of your time. Buy yourself time, you have reached this level to add strategic value. Create strategic time, create thinking time (by booking out slots in your calendar). Do not allow Outlook to control you! Take control, don’t attend meetings unless you need to be there. Don’t allow others to fill one hour meetings, if you only need 30 minutes, wrap it up early. The key to success is finding the right mix of operational time involvement and strategic thinking/planning/implementing time.
What keeps you awake at night?
Turn off your smart phone! I take it as a given that a role at the top table in any organisation is going to be stressful at times. You have to learn very early, to compartmentalise, ensure you can switch off from business at certain times.
It is important to have other interests away from work; indulge, enjoy and embrace your down time (including that hour in the gym or the hour in front of the TV).
Are there any barriers for finance people wishing to progress to CFO and what would your advice to them be?
I don’t believe there are barriers, you make your own luck. But you must show drive and commitment. Remember as well as your own job you should be trying to do elements of your boss’s job. You are trying to impress everyone, make other people’s lives as simple as possible, utilise all the knowledge you have access to. You’re in a special place in the organisation with access to lots of information, don’t miss that opportunity (try to change the bean counter analogy in other people’s perception of you, become the go to business partner for your colleagues).
My first MD’s very early career advice “Always under promise, and over achieve”. If you follow this core discipline in all areas of your life, you will be amazed at the results.
What are the key challenges facing your sector?
P2i’s main sector where we apply our revolutionary nano-coating technology, is the consumer electronics industry. In this fast paced technology driven environment, with short product lifecycles, you can never rest on your laurels. We operate globally (95% of our revenue is generated outside the UK, with the majority from Chinese customers), you have to keep pushing forward, both constant improvement of what you have (existing products and services), and innovating (new products and step change improvements) to keep ahead. Once our customers see us as a technology partner it creates a huge amount of goodwill towards us.
What are the priorities for your business and how is the finance function helping to achieve them?
The priority for our business today is growing the top line. The finance team assists by providing detailed financial reporting metrics by customer that combined with key operational metrics drive company profitability. This level of detail enables us to constantly re-validate our business models. This provides us with actionable data to feedback into the customer value proposition. Finance is one part of a complex jigsaw in ensuring our business development and sales organisation have all the appropriate information and tools available to sell effectively.
What is your biggest challenge in attracting top tier finance staff?
Being an attractive “high science” technology company, we have not (to date) had a problem in attracting top tier finance staff.
What are the qualities you look for when hiring for your team?
Driven individuals with ambition and personal high standards. How do you get the best out of people? Create a professional but fun atmosphere. Give individuals the space to grow and learn. Coach, and avoid any temptation to micro manage.