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Ahead of the celebration of International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March we have the spotlight on some of the fabulous women we have working here at McCurrach. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Deborah Kelly, our Commercial Finance Manager, who joined McCurrach in May 2014, to get to know a bit about her and her journey so far.
We had a chat with Deborah about her role, what sparked her interest in finance as a profession and her opinion of being a woman in business.
Let’s start off by finding out a bit about your role here at McCurrach. What are your key responsibilities as Commercial Finance Manager?
Well, my role is to look at the commercial pricing for services we provide to our clients. We do this by taking into consideration what it will cost to place a team. These teams could be placed in a variety of environments including convenience, technology stores or in a head office telesales team.
My day-to-day responsibilities can vary widely depending on priority briefs and timescales, and I also have various levels of input into new business propositions and contract negotiations. I also analyse contract profitability and lead quarterly forecast reviews with our Directors and Controllers to ensure our financial forecasts include the most up to date financial information.
It sounds like you have quite an important role in new business set up which is really interesting.
Believe it or not, finance can be really interesting and it’s vitally important if you want to be a successful company. It has to be engaging and accessible to non-financial managers to really be useful in driving performance. I like finding the balance between finance and people in my role and as a result adding value, which is something that is achievable at McCurrach.
So, what changes have you seen over the years since joining McCurrach?
Since I joined almost 5 years ago, the company has grown more complex, with a larger number of clients in a wider range of outlets, channels and sectors.
The environment we operate in is more challenging now with the current political and economic environment impacting how and when our clients wish to invest in our services. As a result, the services we provide have evolved to become more innovative and flexible to meet these needs.
In particular, the use of data and the launch of new data services has become more important in new propositions. We also have expanded into experiential with Wave and consultancy with Sellex, so a lot has changed.
We are interested to know, what initially attracted you to the wonderful world of commercial finance?
When I was in sixth year at secondary school, I studied Higher accountancy and finance and it quickly became my favourite subject. My teacher had previously worked for one of the big five audit companies and had only been teaching for a couple of years. She was really passionate about the subject but also honest about the fact that she left the profession. This got me interested in the account management and commercial finance area right from the start, but I’ve always been sure to carefully choose roles and jobs that interest me.
After school, I completed a Finance apprenticeship while gaining valuable work experience which allowed me to study for a professional qualification with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
From there I moved through various companies and positions in travel, aerospace and defence industries where I had the opportunity to travel a lot and learn about different company cultures and operational setups before joining McCurrach.
You’ve had quite a varied working background! Just one last question before you go, since we are celebrating international woman’s day, do you have any advice for woman in business?
What I would say is, always do what feels right for you. I have always tried to do this throughout my career, excluding a spell in a role I took against my better judgement when I’d been made redundant. However, even this taught me a lesson and confirmed my belief that if something doesn’t feel right you shouldn’t do it. I’m not sure that advice only applies to women in business though but it’s probably the best advice I can give.
For me, I think you have to be honest and true to yourself in business and in work. It’s easier to enjoy what you do when you feel like you’re in the right place, doing the right thing and making a real difference. Finance isn’t out there saving the world but it’s nice to feel you’ve contributed and that it’s been recognised.”
I want to take this opportunity to thank Deborah for her time to conduct this interview and to all the wonderful business woman out there! We certainly know that without our incredible colleagues, we wouldn’t be where we are today.