Marie Cooper was a finance manager at Sheffield-based valve manufacturer Bestobell Valves when she joined a management buy-out (MBO) of the three divisions within the business from owner Flow Group in 2010. Until that point, her sights were set on becoming Flow Group’s financial controller. But the MBO gave her the opportunity to “go one step better” and take on the Finance Director role. It’s a move that she’s very glad she made. “As Finance Director, you’re the centre of the business. You get interaction with all the departments and help to set the strategy of where the business is going.”
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Monitoring cash flows takes up a lot of Marie’s time. “It’s a key part of business success and it will continue to be important,” she says. Besides having responsibility for the finance team, she also oversees President’s commercial, IT and HR functions. Finance remains her first love, however. “HR is time-consuming because there are so many different regulations you have to abide by. And when you’re managing 120 staff, it can get quite complex.”
Besides finance, Marie’s other great passion is interior design because “you can take a blank canvass and turn it into something fantastic”. And as FD she’s managed to combine her two interests by revamping President’s reception area. “It is surprising how a coat of white paint can make a big difference to people,” she explains.
FDs need good interpersonal skills, according to Marie, and to realise that they can’t do everything on their own. “You need to work with other people who share the same goals.” She believes her outspoken personality has helped her to climb to the top of the finance profession. “I never take no for an answer. There’s always a way to do things.”