#324: Leading the Largest F&A Shared Service in the World with Stephen Sutcliffe

#324: Leading the Largest F&A Shared Service in the World with Stephen Sutcliffe

Our Guest Mentor: 

STEPHEN SUTCLIFFE is Director of Accounting at NHS Shared Services, the largest F&A Shared service in the world, with a drive to improved customer satisfaction and digital transformation. Stephen is an award-winning finance leader, receiving the 2020 Finance Team of the Year award at the CFO & Finance Of The Future Summit and has a rich history of success spanning all aspects of finance and senior management within a 25+ year career within national healthcare organizations. Stephen also earned the status as youngest Executive Director of Finance within Western Europe’s largest employer (third largest employer in the world) the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). 

Stephen holds a CPFA designation and is based out of Oldham, United Kingdom  

Key Quotes from the Episode: 

[On leaving an impact and bringing added value to the organization] you’ve got this sort of traditional accounting, financial accounting, doing the technical side but it was always  the wanting to be the business partner where I’d added value and my stand out legacy moments that I look back on are the times I have impacted on things [06:53] 

[On making your way up to the next level] “What drove me was always doing my bosses job. If you’re doing your bosses job, then guess what, when you go through the interview, you can absolutely stand there and say, it’s not theoretical that I can do this. I’ve actually done this in here is my experience for doing this.” [09:29] 

[On leadership and developing your team] “You’re only as good as the people gathered around you. And therefore if you put amazing people around you, how good do you look? So be confident in that and build the team around you that are absolutely amazing.” [12:27] 

[On how to improve professional credibility] “If you personally added value that any good organization. The further you go in your career, that gives you that credibility, but you are whoever you are and you bring the skills of you as an individual to that organization.” [17:52] 

[On career advise] “People value your contribution, rather than being seen as an advisor with part of the post, be part of the decision maker, be at the table because that’s when you can influence things.” [22:00] 

Key Points from the Episode: 

  • Stephen shares his career strategies and how he finally became the head of the largest F&A Shared service in the world. 
  • The importance of having a solid foundation in the technicals for successful financial career development. 
  • The significance of teamwork, mentorship and leadership in reaching success in the organization. 
  • How to bring value and skills to the benefit of the organization. 
  • The influence and future impact of technology in finance 

Stamped Show Notes 

[00:17] Stephen shares how he started as an accountant to NHS’ director of finance. 

[02:22] Stephen discusses how NHS operates and its services. 

[03:52] Stephen speaks of key moments of his professional career. 

[05:29] The things to focus on if you want to become a finance director someday. 

[07:42] The ways on how to help your team step-up on their responsibilities. 

[10:58] Stephen shares the value of coaching and mentorship relationship. 

[13:06] The different ways to demonstrate value and success on business. 

[14:38] Stephen advises on people transitioning from private to public sector and vice versa.  

[15:52] Stephen shares his interest in technology and how it can help finance in the future. 

[19:20] The best piece of advice Stephen received.  

[21:30] Books and resources Stephen recommends. 

[24:11] Stephen’s social media accounts. 

[24:51] Stephen’s parting thoughts for the audience. 

Resources Mentioned: 

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Program to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence, and Happiness Paperback – Illustrated, May 30, 2013 by Steve Peters (Author) 

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon Hardcover – Illustrated, October 15, 2013 by Brad Stone (Author) 

Connect with today’s guest: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-sutcliffe-72b8a424/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sasutty 

Full Transcript 

[00:00:29]Andrew: [00:00:29] Hi everyone. And welcome to this week, strengthened the numbers and really delighted to share with you this week’s guest mentor, Stephen Sutcliffe and interesting fact about Stephen is Stephen is  the head of probably the largest finance and accounting shared services team in the world. And that’s because Steven’s organization supports. United kingdom’s national health service? 

[00:00:52]And in particular, what’s actually great about having Steven on the show today is that look, he’s not only an award winning, finance leader and his team last year, one finance team of the world the CFO and finance at a future summit, but he is very open in sharing how he started his career as an accountant, his deliberate strategy. To progress over the last 25 plus years within the healthcare industry 

[00:01:17]and also his why and reasons for it, for doing this. And what motivates him. I really appreciate his comment about the importance of having strong technicals to build a successful finance career upon and how important teamwork, mentorship and leadership was in, in reaching our full potential in organizations, then we get into some more practical areas as well, around how we can bring our value and skills to benefit our organizations, whether they be public or private sector, and also the influence and impact of technology on the future finance as well. So we cover an awful lot. 

[00:01:53] I had great fun. Read enjoyed a conversation with Steven. And if you did, as well, you can check out the timestamp show notes, transcripts wastes connect with Steven resources, recommended a more at sitnshow.com and as always, really appreciate it. When you recommend the show to friends and colleagues, we’re in all the major platforms, iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon music. Thanks again for tuning in. That’s enough for me. So without further ado, over to Steven on the show.  Stephen, welcome to the show. 

[00:02:27]Stephen: [00:02:27] Good to be here. 

[00:02:28]Andrew: [00:02:28] It’s our pleasure to have you. And I really enjoyed our last chat and I’m looking forward to this one as well, but for audience Steven, some of them may not be as familiar with your journey in your career. So would you mind maybe sharing your story in accounting and finance please? 

[00:02:41] Stephen: [00:02:41] Yeah, of course. So, I went to university in Liverpool and did a business studies degree I thought that was quite wide, always good at maths. So thought I’d get into finance at some point, but I did a year out an engineering company and that gave me the boost to working for and the commercial marketing and sales finance as part of that  year out. 

[00:03:01] And I really absolutely have my desire  to be an accountant. So when I got to the end of my university, I had two choices falling university or go to graduate schemes.  Had the graduate scheme in Telus brewer which is local it doesn’t exist anymore sadly and the NHS for some reason I turned down free beer and decided to join the NHS at graduate scheme. I think some of my social constants and social values probably kicked in it at that point in time. So I joined the graduate scheme from a fairly early age for my career. Was wanted to be a director of finance so it was really clear about wanted to be a director of finance within and then generally because of the skills that you’ve got from an accountant’s point of view, what you can bring to the business the benefit you can bring to, to an organization. 

[00:03:45] So I made very deliberate and direct movements during my career that got me to be a director of finance. I was relatively young for that. And then spent 15 years as a director of finance in NHS. Then about five years ago, I moved to a national shared service providers. 

[00:04:01] So it used to be a client of NHS shared business services, which is my current employee and thought I could do a better job than that then they would do to me at the time and the opportunity to join in and have really looked at over the last five years. 

[00:04:14]Andrew: [00:04:14] Actually, it seems like it was a very deliberate path there and whatever, first up though Stephen and I have to question your career choices and accounting turning down free beer. I mean, come on. Us accountants love free things. But for some of our audience I think a lot of us have heard of the NHS. 

[00:04:28] Actually I wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for the NHS, the UK’s national health service, because my parents met at hospital there, my father was a paramedic. Mother was a nurse. So, you know, the rest of the story is history as they say. But, in terms of national health service, which I may be sort of describing that organization for some of audience who may not be as familiar. 

[00:04:46] Stephen: [00:04:46] Yeah, absolutely. So as you said Andrew it’s deep in the heart of the public and the British public. And everybody knows somebody also being always touched by the editors at some point in their life is how a health service.  It’s fairly unique in world terms because it’s funded by the taxpayer and therefore free at the point of delivery.  

[00:05:04] many countries of course have private insurance based. So that’s partly why we’re proud of it because we’re paying for it as a taxpayer. But it’s huge, it’s the third largest employer in the world. I think 1.5, 1.6 million people working in the national health service. 

[00:05:19] That’s the direct doctors, nurses and support services. But also of course, it’s the many suppliers,  linking into that and about 120 billion pounds worth of our tax is spent  on the NHS every year. And it’s always been an important part of the, as I say, a business culture. But during the last, for those that were at the 2012, there’s so many Olympics and it just was Brighton and blue in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London and during COVID-19 and the pandemic, it has been a phenomenal response and it has been, I’ve always been proud to work for, then it just, but particularly in the last 12 months. 

[00:05:55] Andrew: [00:05:55] Yeah, it’s an organization that’s I suppose it’s probably still relatively young, but it’s grown to be such a huge employer and occupy prior to in the British psyche.  So that’s incredible goal so finding your career in there and having your most of your career journey there Stephen, most of are thrown off some interesting challenges, yet opportunities as well. 

[00:06:16]Stephen: [00:06:16] What I get from working in NHS. And it’s very much that putting something back. I get up every morning for two main reasons. One for my mom, mom’s thankfully still with us, but I want to do all I can. And then it just, she has had treatment of course and when she goes and has an experience in the NHS, I want to help and contribute to that experience. And Charlie my stepson has got an acquired brain injury. He’s got meningitis when he was younger. So he’s often in care or getting services for meningitis. 

[00:06:42] So very personal reasons and therefore for me is as an accountant, you know, you’ve got this sort of traditional accounting, financial accounting, doing the technical side but it was always  the wanting to be the business partner where I’d added value and my stand out legacy moments that I look back on are the times I have impacted on things. So I was instrumental in chemotherapy services, moving into local communities and I’m really proud of that. I was the senior responsible officer for a huge health center building program a PFI private finance initiative within the health service. 

[00:07:14] So those are the sort of the key moments that I remember as a look back of my career. 

[00:07:20] Andrew: [00:07:20] Yeah I think what’s very important for audience and you did mention them is having great reasons  for taking a particular career path. And I think once you’ve got great reasons, you’ll tend to get great results. So you picked some good reasons there Stephen but I suppose you also mentioned you were quite deliberate in your choices and you were aspiring to be a finance director. 

[00:07:39] So for our audience, so we’re on a similar journey and themselves career wise, what sort of things should they be focused on if they want to be a finance director in today’s modern finance organizations. 

[00:07:52] Stephen: [00:07:52] Yeah, so I think there’s two levels to that for me. I think there’s definitely. Do the technical, be a good accountant. You know, I think that those foundations are really, really important. I remember one of my first placements I was working in management accounting and doing some journals and I was told just balance the journal off by writing to this code. 

[00:08:10] Okay. So  I gleefully followed that advice. And then my next placement took me to  financial accounts  and the financial accountant said, usually management accounts, you just dump things to the debtors and creditors at accounts. And I have no idea when I’m trying to do my balance sheet reporting what this is all about. And certainly so having views and aspects of different parts of the accounts, but really having that fundamental foundation. When I was on the training scheme, it’s a great training scheme. You’ve got opportunities to meet chief execs and be on development courses and all that fabulous stuff. But lots of people qualified as an accountant and I’m not sure they were a good accountant, they passed the exams, but hadn’t had some of that real life doing final accounts. I was really fortunate to do final accounts, do all the working papers all of that was  really positive, gave me a really strong foundation. 

[00:08:55]And therefore when you are an FD, and if I say my interest is more in the business side of things and what can I use analytical skills for the business? But at the end of the day, you have to sign up of accounts or you have to understand what you what’s being presented. And you could, you have to ask the tough questions. 

[00:09:08] I think it’s really important that you, so I look for various roles, various experiences in those various types of organizations. And it just is a collection of many organizations. I look for there for different types of organizations, roles, people, different types of organizations was what drove me and always doing my bosses job. 

[00:09:26]So if you’re doing your bosses job, then guess what, when you go through the interview, you can absolutely stand there and say, it’s not theoretical that I can do this. I’ve actually done this in here’s my experience for doing this. 

[00:09:36] Andrew: [00:09:36] It’s actually interesting when people are looking to make their way to the next level, Stephen, and it’s just like this declaring opportunity in front of them not to take their boss’s job per se, but to do it and demonstrate it because that may be an option in the future, but it may also be said I’ve practically Don the line managers role already just in another team, in a safe environment. 

[00:09:56] I feel I’m ready to make the next step. That’s actually quite a clever bit of advice. I mean, how did, sort of what sort of thing could people do for  their line managers or their bosses? 

[00:10:06] Stephen: [00:10:06] Yeah. So I think if you’ve got a good line managers and I could pick out those individuals that have inspired me or influenced  my career I’d hope you can have a line manager you can speak to and talk about your development and talk about  what your future is, I’d suggest if you haven’t got that sort of line manager and then question because your question where you are and look elsewhere, because I think if you’ve got people that I often find if you ask the question, I’d quite like to get involved in that project or that’s an interest. Most people say fantastic because you want to see people develop, you wanted to see people flourish. The majority of people want to do that and also say, fantastic. Somebody is going to take that off of me and they’re going to do that for me. 

[00:10:42] Even better so I can do, because it’s, they’ll also be wanting to move and do all the things as well. So you’re lifting the lid is something that’s been described to me in the past. How do you, as an individual, when you’re in a leadership point of view, lift the lid a step up and enable others to step into that. 

[00:10:57] So I think you’ve got responsibility. I have responsibility now to lift my lid so others can step into that but you can also push that lid. 

[00:11:04]Andrew: [00:11:04] And actually just them, because we also have leaders, finance leaders listening into the show as well. It’s like, so might be, you know, I suppose I could probably really relate to some stage of my earlier career. I’d be frightened someone may be taking my job as a leader, if you’re lifting the lid, Stephen, but actually. As I’ve sort of grown a bit older, probably a bit more confident. I’m not exactly sure. I actually think it’s a good thing to sort of creates a vacuum behind for people to suck people into so they’re all sucked up a level and then it’s actually a good problem to have. But from your perspective, ever sort of any worries or what do you think about when you lift the lid? 

[00:11:37] What does that mean for you as a leader? You’ve got to put yourself out of a job or is it an opportunity to reinvent yourself. 

[00:11:43] Stephen: [00:11:43] I very much see it as a lifestyle. I think if you’re worried about losing your job, then I think there’s this underpinning things that you don’t think you’re good enough, generally. And you know, good people will survive and they will succeed. And you will develop others, push you on, but as you say, it enables you to then go and do the things that you really want  to be doing. What do you want to get up every morning to do? And it probably isn’t the running the project or doing some of the technical things that it will be something. So I think it’s beneficial in many ways. I quite like quotes and you’ll see many quotes about that leadership piece is all about the beginning of being big enough of others and being confident in yourself that actually, you know what, you’re only as good as the people gathered around you. 

[00:12:22] And therefore if you put amazing people around you, how good do you look? So be confident in that and build the team around you that are absolutely amazing. 

[00:12:30] Andrew: [00:12:30] Yeah, when I started I believe in the strong foundation. So I did my stints in an order. I did them in accounts payable, receivables, general accounting. I did a lot of that and it’s great to actually have that practical experience because I feel that we’re a little bit already could share their stories to people who might’ve missed those guts, but nothing, nothing, nothing replaces that. 

[00:12:47] But to your point we’re only as good as the teams of people we surround ourselves with. There’s now people in my team that know a lot more about things in finance that I do. And that’s a really novel situation. Cause I was normally the guy who was going out there getting the expertise, but like, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are without that situation of having people who know more than us. 

[00:13:08]So how do you sort of make the break from the focus on the technical to doing all the other things that a leader needs to do to become a great leader? And sort of ID tips on how to yes build on the strong foundations, but not get sucked back into the technical side of things. 

[00:13:21] Stephen: [00:13:21] Yeah. So I think for me I’ve got a lot of value from coaching and mentoring relationships, whether they be formal or informal, but I’d really include you. And that’s, for me, it’s always been two or three or four individuals who are providing a different role. I really value coach, genuine coaches, they’ve got no idea about finance and can come in and coach me and talk to me about some of my formative years. Good strong mentors that were able to give advice. Was really important. I think also getting yourself out into the bits. One of the benefits I find with an accountant and the professionalism that brings you have a level of respect, certainly in the NHS, which is quite a professional organization. Suddenly you’re talking to doctors who are also professionals and qualified, and you’ve got a mutual professional respect, and therefore you’re starting to, you know, how do you make sure you’re talking to that sort of common language, same layer, mutual respect, getting trust, and starting to express your opinion. 

[00:14:19] You know, most accountants are fairly bright, articulate, logical, and can add value to an argument, a conversation, a decision. And once people see that you’re bringing yourself to that and not just all I’m interested in is the money, cause you won’t be, you know, I would always encourage all whether it be finance, HR, sales, what can I do to help the business succeed? Not what are the nighttime reasons why you shouldn’t do something? What’s the one reason why you can help the business succeed? 

[00:14:45]Andrew: [00:14:45] Yeah. And so it’s a bit of a shift of their mindset away from our technicals, but using the technical to help us use that as a strong positioning tool, I guess, to allow us to go and help businesses succeed and add value as you say, and actually talking a value I think it could be an interesting to just share with our audience Stephen is, you know, as you said, the national health service NHS is taxpayer funded, so it’s not a hundred percent reliant on external commercial streams and paying customers per se. It’s more taxpayers with the clients or so on. So how do you demonstrate that value in those types of organizations, because some of our listeners work in that background, but some, a lot of us like myself don’t have that experience. 

[00:15:23] So  what are some cooler or quick ways to go around to demonstrate that value? We can help towards business success. 

[00:15:29] Stephen: [00:15:29] Yes, I think learnings across both commercial and public sector organizations  of value. I think for me it was that personal, this is my money. Therefore, how would I best spend this money? You know, what would, I think I’m getting some value from this, or, Oh yeah. Your real ownership of this. We described in a number of organizations that I’ve worked with for which warranted the warrants and pound. So for every pound of taxpayers, how do we best spend that? And you then look at our pie chart and go, Oh, it’s all been spent over here. Well, it shouldn’t be all we spent over here. 

[00:16:01] Well, what’s the outcomes you get him for that. Cause I think you can then start to really be clear about, for every pound spent, what we’re doing for improving health population outcomes or patient experience and the like, and of course the public scrutiny is there, there’s various invite from when he approaches in the end? 

[00:16:18] The auditor’s will come in and do both  from an assessment on things, I think external assurance is always helpful at the right time to put the mirror back to you. So you can do as much for yourself, but having a good board, good non-exec, good excellent assurance. I think these will improve. 

[00:16:34] Andrew: [00:16:34] Yeah. I think people shouldn’t be taken the fact that it’s public sector, there’s actually a lot of similar mechanisms you’d find in any shareholder owned or partnership or whatever. So, I think that’s a key point to make and I think it’s cause I don’t really have this experience, but people in your experience transitioning between the two, public sector to the private, private to public sector. What would allow you to be successful in what I’m bringing, bring the tools into and to another one. Is there any sort of tips for people transition that you’ve seen in your career? Those that have done it well, 

[00:17:01] Stephen: [00:17:01] Yeah. So this is interesting cause I’m a sit for qualified individual and I have that whole you can only work in the public sector cause you sit for it and seem as this we have the battle of the accountancy bodies and I’ve forgotten probably. But what I learned is I know it all far too many years ago, now that the organization I’ve worked with now is because it’s actually a joint venture business services. We’re 50% owned by the department of health and 50% owned by a French technology so you get this mindset from both private sector, people are like this public sector. People are like this puts it to all like art and not innovative and thoughtful. And it guess what, there are some people like that. And the last bit people are people out there I guess. If you’re innovative, if you’re a good leader, if you’re showing value to the organization, if you’re delivering an executed things, if you personally added value that any good organization. The further you go in your career, you become less, you know, you’re having an accountancy qualification and that gives you that credibility, but you are whoever you are and you bring the skills of you as an individual to that organization. 

[00:17:59] Andrew: [00:17:59] Yeah great answer, Stephen and you mentioned technology in there as well. I just want to touch on it quickly. How technology is enriching our roles. Like I think you’re a big fan of technology from our last conversation. What’s working well for you on technology and maybe what could work better for us in the future? 

[00:18:15]Stephen: [00:18:15] Yeah. So I love technology, gadgets at home, big Apple fan. If you want to send me some free stuff, that will be fantastic. 

[00:18:22] Andrew: [00:18:22] Well, we have a location here port in Ireland to see what we could do. 

[00:18:26]Stephen: [00:18:26] But I think, I often describe 25 years of accounting really changed too much in that time. Probably not changed in 1700 or something  when bookkeeping was first invented but technology has changed it and we sit here today, I’m having a podcast over zoom with our teams, whatever we might be doing, who would have thought that 12 months ago. 

[00:18:45] And obviously technology is ramped up on the back of COVID 19 and the pandemic. But  I’m massively passionate about automating as much as we can. We’ve got a big robotic automation program that we’re driving forward. I could watch lyrical about RPA. But what really excited for, I described that as a bit MCOs on steroids. Our vendors don’t like me saying that, but that’s how I sort of  

[00:19:07] Andrew: [00:19:07] this is actually what it is. Yeah. You got the image, mental image, like yeah it is. Where you find it the best value at the moment from applying that RPA 

[00:19:16] Stephen: [00:19:16] Yeah. I mean, it really is that we’ve got because we shared service doing a lot of transactional work in a repetitive work. It isn’t really clear because of the scale that we’re at as well. So we’re a big organization puts in lots of things. And I think that naturally come to the RPA, but we’ve got other aspects of OCR and a bit of AML and even good quality MCOs is, you know, got their place in things. 

[00:19:37]And I’m really excited about genuine AI, think that’s coming in the next five years and I’m trying to work out how I can use blockchain in finance. I’ve not quite yet. Well, there’s still blockchain, all our works are bad lift. That’s my next challenge. 

[00:19:51] Andrew: [00:19:51] Yeah, by the way, we are actually searching for speakers and who can help demystify where the blockchain can be applied, because we can’t still see ourselves. We’re sort of seeing it in like supply chain, but not necessarily finance yet. So, yeah. I think there’s probably some opportunity there. It’s important to kick the tires on it.  Cause it might be a lot of value we just don’t know for sure. But ,I’m equally excited about the machine learning and maybe some property. I love someone just giving you an other perspective, someone to bounce things off, this is what they are seeing in the data. 

[00:20:17] What do you think decision-maker?, you know, and it’s like, is that realistic or not in this refining the models, but yeah, like put it this way. Anything that’s going to help us do the transactional piece faster. And again, for those of you who worked in the day, back in the days of reconciling supplier statements and creditors and stuff like that. 

[00:20:34] No this is a lifesaver, but then you can analyze the data now. The data is all at one place allows us and as we move up the value ladder, so actually it’s giving us a chance to be, help business more towards their delivering more successful outcomes. 

[00:20:46]Stephen: [00:20:46] that’s the point for me is that it’s not about getting rid of checkups and they’ll get to meet diverse people that is actually, you know, what, those people are absolutely capable of added insight into data. That’s our skills isn’t that we are analytical people in at our core. If we can analyze that and then provide some genuine insight that helps the business, do whatever the business is. You are definitely adding more value than just moving piece of paper or electronic things around the system. 

[00:21:09]Andrew: [00:21:09] Try talking to it. I remember I said one rule? It was very paper-based, moving paper around system. Literally we were paper pushers and the fact that the batteries I had health and safety complaints me, cause we hadn’t reported enough accidents at work. That’s what you mean. Well, surely you got all this paper, you must have more paper cuts, than you’re reporting. It’s like, you want me to report paper cuts because yeah. Yeah. It also reduces paper, right. And reduces paper cuts. 

[00:21:31]So there’s a health and safety angle there that people don’t get to the health and safety all the way, but it’s a great, great conversation. 

[00:21:37] Stephen, look, I appreciate all the great advice you’ve given us. I mean, in terms of yourself, what’s been the best advice you’ve ever received. 

[00:21:44] Stephen: [00:21:44] Oh, that’s a really good question. I think, Be at the table would be, what I mean by that is you’re part of that decision making, posters and people value your contribution to that rather than being seen as an advisor with part of the post would be part of the decision maker, be at the table because that’s when you can influence things. 

[00:22:03] Andrew: [00:22:03] Yeah, I agree completely Stephen. And actually, this is interesting for, I suppose, for those that’s been around the develop that trust and being at the table is probably a bit easier. People know who we are and what we’re about for younger members coming along, having to deal with zoom and teams and not being in the same room at the table, but be more virtually at the table. Any tips that you’re seeing working well for folks to be that trusted advisor sparring partner. 

[00:22:29] Stephen: [00:22:29] I mean, that’s a really good point, I guess it’s certainly harder now in interview, wander down the office to you and see the bright sparks. And you could see the bright sparks. I think it is very valuable. I think that there’s still things you can still volunteer. You can still do great piece of work. If you do a great piece of work, you will get noticed and I think that will. I would always encourage that. Come back to my earlier point. You to take on a little bit more, take on some responsibility or just volunteer for things we know you’ll work. We’ve got employee engagement networks, or we’ve got social networks. 

[00:22:55] It doesn’t have to be directly in accountancy, but just get your visibility present  that’s a really good way of describing it. 

[00:23:01] Andrew: [00:23:01] yeah. Cause like you know, you could have all these great skills, great value to offer, but if you’re not present, no one’s going to know about it and like, I like the volunteering anchor. Sometimes that’s what it takes to break through. I’ve seen it work loads and loads actually, people volunteering for projects. It gets you more exposure and yes, it’s more work, but you know what? It’s actually a really good investment. 

[00:23:19] Stephen: [00:23:19] is definitely. 

[00:23:21] Andrew: [00:23:21] good call out Stephen. And I suppose, in terms of yourself, any particular resources or books you might recommend our audience go check out. 

[00:23:27] Stephen: [00:23:27] I’ve been reading quite like autobiographies, sports. So I’m very much, but my leadership things often come from sport cycling. I was it’s Beresford and Steve Peters and his chimps. I think it’s a  great book. I think the most recent one that I’ve read, I’ve  just in the middle of reading the everything store about Jeff Bezos but of a view of his life. And particularly person now that is this, I’m not sureif he’ll ever leave Amazon. But that was really good. I really valued that and found insightful in terms of that reflection reflected back. And I think I’d just get lost in a book. Just enables you to think about how that applies to yourself. 

[00:24:01]Andrew: [00:24:01] Yeah. I see. It’s actually a really great form of mentoring. I find like virtual mentoring, it’s just reading those autobiographies sports or business. It’s great. I read one by Mark Benihoff recently, the salesforce.com cause I wanted to get that perspective. How would you bring new technology forward and say, how could you apply that in an organization as well? 

[00:24:18] So it’s great and getting lost in it. It’s like you can find, Oh my God, I actually really enjoy the stories. The way they can tell their stories is unreal. I know like probably the editors and whatever, but still though. 

[00:24:29]Stephen: [00:24:29] You know, it tends to impact storytelling is, we all have stories we all listened to. So we all engage more dealt with. When people tell stories and with Jeff Bezos, I learned lots about all his failures. Phenomenal amount of failures that he’s experienced. You know, you sort of had this where people get to the top, guess what they’ve been successful all their life, or they haven’t, he’s really pushed the boundaries of taking risks and making failure. 

[00:24:50] And also, having various leadership models, but another piece of advice I’ve got, is frame your thinking in some sort of model, whatever model that is, but you’ve got some sort of, it’s a bit like the accountancy foundation you’ve got that foundation to build from and then make it.  

[00:25:03] I’ve edited information about why digital transformations fail and there’s some fantastic little keypoints about what you should wait, what you shouldn’t do. And that’s really just helped me with my thinking. 

[00:25:13] Andrew: [00:25:13] it’s great. That’s a lot. I love that point about frameworks.  It was like, I felt like until I had some frameworks that I was sort of like going not really directing my efforts in the right way per se. And it’s so easy as you use the frameworks again, and refine them, you can just rely on them. 

[00:25:27] I’m not saying it’s automatic, but it actually puts a structure. And how you engage in your conversations or how you look at things. I gave him down to the area. That’s how I explained, allows you to move up the value ladder. You got this idea of a ladder and you different levels of value on the ladder by asking different questions. 

[00:25:42] You build the right foundations, allows you to move up the ladder and people get that. And it’s just like trying to make those analogies. I think analogy is a good one. If explaining stuff to people, as well as storytelling wise, that’s worked very well. 

[00:25:54] Stephen: [00:25:54] I think you don’t know me to get, guess what happened when you see a ladder? A ladder appears 

[00:25:57] Andrew: [00:25:57] Yeah, there you go. 

[00:25:58] Stephen: [00:25:58] I actually see the 

[00:25:59] Andrew: [00:25:59] You’re nodding. 

[00:26:01] Stephen: [00:26:01] and I’m a visual person. So. 

[00:26:03] Andrew: [00:26:03] Yeah, exactly yeah, just so I think reflecting on what you can do in your skills and trying to put them in some sort of framework, so you can access them quickly and speed battles a lot nowadays as well. And helping people reach the right decision faster. 

[00:26:15] You know, if it comes to a choice of both making the right decision and one person does it faster than the other one, then you know, all things being equal, where are you going to put your money behind?  So, I’ve enjoyed our conversation, so I’ll keep an eye on the time. So it’s even so it’s like, you know, but anyway so I suppose look in terms of if, of all those that our audience wishing to continue the conversation, where’s the best way to connect with you at. 

[00:26:35]Stephen: [00:26:35] So I’m fairly active on Twitter. I like my tweet and more than happy to connect through LinkedIn. Of course, or if people just want to email me, I’m happy to share that as well Andrew, and I’m happy to pick up either face to face conversation or I’ll respond by email more than happy to if people want to reach out. 

[00:26:51] Andrew: [00:26:51] Awesome. I’m going to put those details  in the show notes that go out with this episode and Stephen look I really appreciate our conversation. It sort of bounced away from your career as story into sort of being present. And I just, a great device into by technology and where we’re going, adding value, delivering an outcomes, helping businesses be successful. 

[00:27:09] We’ve covered a lot before we wrap up any sort of parting thoughts for our audience. 

[00:27:13] Stephen: [00:27:13] I’ve really enjoyed that, I think be the person that you want to be, and go after your dreams will be my advice. 

[00:27:20]Andrew: [00:27:20] Okay, well, let’s wrap it up there. I love it. I love it. So Stephen, thank you so much for coming in Strength in the Numbers today being a great guest mentor 

[00:27:27] Stephen: [00:27:27] You’re welcome.  



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