When Chris was first approached about becoming Finance Director of Hays’ UK & Ireland business, he thought it was a sideways move since he was already the group’s Financial Controller. But he took the job anyway as he believed it would broaden out his CV. “I’ve never worried too much about where I was going other than what my next role was going to be and how I would get there,” says Chris. “But along the way I’ve taken every opportunity that’s come along.”
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Throughout his career, Chris has focused on trying to do things he’s never done before and learning from his mistakes. “Even when things have gone well, I’ve reflected on what I could have done better. Could a project have been more efficient or cost-effective?”
Chris likes the variety that comes with being an FD. Besides overseeing a finance function that is responsible for the payroll of 23,000 temporary workers every week and billing 6,000 clients among other duties, he heads up Hays’ UK healthcare recruitment business. This entails setting its strategy, overseeing marketing and managing the sales function. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re managing a large finance department or it’s a team of sales people, getting the best out of your people is always your biggest challenge,” he says.
Chris was once advised to “be unreasonable”, a concept that he has interpreted as “setting the bar high enough to drive the team to get there”.
His tip for would-be FDs starting out is to concentrate on the fundamentals of accounting and then focus on developing people skills. “You’re only as good as the people around you,” he explains. “You have to motivate those people to be successful.”