When Clive Scrivener joined Prodrive in 1995, he was attracted by the idea of working for a small and dynamic company and thought that being number two to the existing finance director might eventually lead to him doing that job. As it turned out, he was promoted to FD sooner than he expected – two years after he joined. Next, he started to take on a number of operational responsibilities, which resulted in him being promoted to Chief Operating Officer and later to CEO.
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“You move through a journey,” says Clive. “A lot of finance people forget that there’s a set of soft skills outside your experience and intellect that determine whether you make FD or CEO. You find things out through relationships and respect, not just through systems. About 10 years ago, I realised that within my role at Prodrive, I had developed a deep enough understanding of all the finance and accounting areas. Since then, other than keeping technically up to date, I’ve put much of my effort into developing my communication, management and leadership skills. Those are the skills that shareholders and boards look for.”
Having operational responsibilities helped Clive to make CEO because they required him to think differently. “Operations people have to take different decisions to those an FD would take. FDs are trained to be cautious so they need to make sure that they don’t stifle activity in operational areas by saying ‘no’ too often and too quickly.” He believes that there are advantages to FDs being responsible for, and closely involved in, operational areas. “There is often a more rapid decision-making process. Operational areas can develop business proposals and ideas closely with the FD. That way they get interactive financial and commercial input, and if the FD is closely involved and supports the proposal, the chances are that when it gets to the board it will be approved.”
Overall, Clive is pleased with the direction his career has taken. “I’ve got all the great things that I have learned and experienced from the past and now I’m able to apply all of that in a different context from before. That’s exciting for me.”