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Caroline Hudson

Specsavers

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Caroline Hudson trained as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse. She then took a role as a management accountant with the University of Nottingham before joining Boots Opticians. After doing a number of financial strategy and business partnering roles with Alliance Boots, she moved to optician Specsavers as Director of Retail Finance April 2013.

Updated: 16 Apr 2016

Q. How would you describe your current role?

A. I do commercial finance, which is about working closely with the business to understand how it’s performing and then making changes so that it performs better. It entails budgeting, forecasting, promotion modelling and supporting decision-making. It’s being the business face of finance as opposed to a technical accounting role.

Q. Why did you want to become an FD?

A. It’s not a milestone that I relentlessly tried to achieve. It was much more important to me to be in an organisation where I felt comfortable with the aims, branding and culture and where I could make a difference. I was not prepared to be an FD in any organisation at any cost.

Q. How did you build up the skills you needed to make FD?

A. Joining Price Waterhouse was a masterstroke. I worked for an organisation that focuses hugely on customers, has a strong work ethic and encourages collaborative team working. All of that set me up for success. Also, being able to lead people is one of the most important skills you need as an FD. I’ve had a lot of training on that and I’ve learned a lot from observing others.

Q. Is there any part of your job that you spend disproportionate amount of time on?

A. I think it’s important to spend time with your people to help them to reach their full potential and I don’t intend to change. I delegate a lot and that frees me up to coach rather than stretching myself to the limit.

Q. Have you ever worked abroad?

A. I have worked in Nottingham throughout my career and I’ve never had a major desire to work abroad. But I think it would be good experience and if someone asked me whether I’d recommend it, I think I probably would.

Q. Besides finance, what other responsibilities have you had?

A. When I was at Alliance Boots, I had responsibility for commercial contracting. I hadn’t had any experience of that and it was a real challenge to lead an area where I had no technical experience. But it was an opportunity to hone my coaching and leadership skills. It wasn’t about whether I had the answers. It was about helping the team to find the answers by themselves.

Q. What do you like best about your job?

A. Commercial finance allows you to be involved in all areas of the business. Great finance people see links between disparate trends and bring them together as insight.

Q. What characteristics do you need to be a great FD?

A. You need to have the ability to lead people, the capability to make things happen and to be curious. If you’re satisfied with being fobbed off with the first answer you get, you won’t survive. Finance is often first to pick up on issues that affect business performance. If you have those qualities, the rest is easy to learn.

Q. Which qualities have helped you personally to succeed?

A. I invest time in relationships with people and I don’t ever give up. It doesn’t really occur to me that things can’t be done.

Q. How do you unwind after a stressful day?

A. Coming home to my two children is how I de-stress. There’s no quicker way to forget about work.
 

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