James Males originally dreamed of becoming a professional runner and was invited to train with the British athletics team. But he decided to focus on his studies instead and has gone on to have a successful career as a Finance Director.
Moving company every three to four years has been key to James building up his skillset. “It’s healthy to have a constant refresh of industries and techniques and to have new finance leaders to learn from,” he says.
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He describes his present role as a “fascinating, intellectual experience”. “With the Managing Director, I set the strategy for customer services for BT,” he explains. “I try to eliminate all the causes customers would have to contact BT with issues and ensure that if they do have to contact us, they get the best possible experience on that journey. I do that with a finance guise.”
During his time at Dell, James was based out of the company’s Athens and Paris offices and he travelled widely. “There was a professional sense of adventure,” he says. “One day I’d be discussing letters of credit with Nigerian bankers. The next day I’d be flying to northern Iceland to negotiate with a municipal IT director. It was a hugely rewarding job, but it was a bit heavy on travelling. There was no way I could have done that role once I had a child.”
James still loves running and is training for his next ultra marathon, which entails running between 40 and 50 miles each week. He finds training after work therapeutic. “Being an FD is such an intense job, where you’re balancing very different issues at the same time and taking high-level decisions. You have to have the ability to switch off completely. When I run, I completely clear my mind of everything.”