372 Becoming Part of the Business Solution with Gary Cox

372 Becoming Part of the Business Solution with Gary Cox

“Finance is a door to everything, it’s a foundation to everything.”

According to today’s guest mentor Gary Cox, who also helps us deconstruct on the #sitn podcast:

• The three things that FP&A practitioners are talking about
• We discuss the role of the CFO and the sea change that is happening with it so that it has grown
• How incentives and risk profiles play a bit role in how finance professionals should think about supporting business decisions
• Why data is the foundation of all the things we want to do; and
• Why accounting & finance professionals inherent scepticism is both terrible and wonderful

Check out http://sitnshow.com/ for detailed time stamped show notes, transcripts, links to resources and more guest mentor episodes and Monday Memos.


Our Guest Mentor:

GARY COX ACMA CGMA has spent over three decades, leading Finance, Marketing, Business Strategy, and IT functions in EMEA, most lately as a senior leader for the world’s largest medical company. Gary’s passions at work are bringing positive changes, innovation, and delivery of outstanding results; Influencing the overall strategy to become more competitive by understanding multiple markets needs; focusing the leadership teams on delivering Customer value and building high performing flexible teams.

Outside of work Gary is an avid Leeds United fan and regularly can be found supporting them at Elland Road. Additionally Gary is heavily involved in volunteering supporting students as a Mentor for Leeds University Business School as well as being a Business Mentor for the Help to Grow Program to entrepreneurial leaders helping them make more successful business decisions.

Gary holds an ACMA & CGMA designations and is based out of Leeds, England in the United Kingdom.

Key Quotes from the Episode:

[On moving into the finance department] “every day I went in motivated thinking I could be on a forklift truck out in the cold. And here I am, people are moaning that the coffee machines broke. This is like heaven.” [08:11]

[On the transferability of Finance to other functional roles] “Finance is a door to everything, it’s a foundation to everything.” [15:35]

[On the real job of a finance professional] “your job really is to really talk to the businesses. Interpret what you see now interpret what the future might look like to a set of different stakeholders. And you need time to do that. And so it’s about to find the time and you will find it.” [20:10]

[On best bit of advice] “leaders develop leaders, not followers.” [35:07]

Key Points from the Episode:

–          Gary’s journey from DJ, to forklift driver to an ambulance and the offer of a career in the finance department of a small renewables business

–          We discuss why only 31% of finance controllers make it to FD level and what listeners can do to improve their odds of success

–          Overcoming imposter syndrome and finance stereotypes to do the real job of finance which is being part of the business solution to key challenges

–          Loads of tips & analogies on how listeners can do more of the right things more often.

Stamped Show Notes

[03:00] Gary shares with us his journey from DJ, to forklift driver to an ambulance and the offer of a career in the finance department of a small renewables business.

[09:08] How self-learning helped get Gary move onto a job at a large medical devices company.

[11:11] We discuss the importance of having outside interests outside of study and work, and writing songs around tax accounting & business law to remember things.

[13:10] How Gary landed up with an IT transformation project that turned from 3 months to 4 years as well as a number of different countries and sites he worked at across Europe.

[14:00] What Strategic Marketing is and how finance professionals can add value leading such a function.

[16:50] The importance of asking basic questions and why it’s good to feel as if you don’t know everything to overcome imposter syndrome & stereotypes.

[19:50] Why personal learning & thinking time is so important, how to create space for more of it, prioritizing, avoiding complacency, and how it helps you do your real job of finance.

[22:20] Why coming outside our comfort zones is important and how to do this.

[25:00] Gary shares some survey results about the percentage of people going from financial controller to FD and why this percentage is so low.

[27:16] Why the most successful in their finance careers are seen as part of the business solution and three questions you can ask to be the solution their looking forward.

[28:38] Why business leaders are looking for help on valuable business insights and finding the answers and the importance of being a little bold & trying out some novel ways to refresh leaders’ knowledge & thinking about their business using emotional attachments.

[35:07] Gary shares with us his best bit of advice/philosophy “leaders develop leaders, not followers”.

[37:34] The best place to connect with Gary.

[39:51] Some parting thoughts from Gary about doing finance to a high level is a bit of an art and a craft.

Resources Mentioned:

Podcast: Gary’s thoughts on Skills development: Which ones will you need? https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/financial/skills-development-which-0hmaOdIJxuy/

Podcast: Gary’s thoughts on Skills development: How to create a learning plan https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/financial/skills-development-how-to-pIrHhznaBR-/

Website: Gary’s website https://www.youcansucceeduk.com/

Connect with today’s guest:

LinkedIn:       https://www.linkedin.com/in/garyamcox/

Complete transcript:


[00:00:30] Andrew: Hi everyone. And welcome to this week’s strength in the numbers today. Really excited to share with you Gary Cox, this week’s guest mentor.

[00:00:38] Gary probably has one of the more interesting stories about how he got into finance and ended up with various different roles.

[00:00:46] The controllership finance director leading IT teams, strategic marketing teams.

[00:00:52] So his journey from wanting to be a DJ to a forklift driver. It’s being rushed to hospital in an ambulance,

[00:00:58] which all culminated in him being offered a job in the finance department of a small renewables management business.

[00:01:05] Needless to say it is a fairly unique,

[00:01:07] This episode has got loads of tips, analogies, great advice for listeners on how to do more of the right things more often. So just too many Terra to pick out here. I just found myself making loads of notes during the conversation and I can see myself using them an awful lot in my own career, but the worst, some key scenarios we did discuss, one of them was some survey results.

[00:01:29] Gary shared around why. Only 31% of finance controllers make it to finance director level. We go to the reasons why that is, and some of the things listeners can do to improve their odds for success around that. And like at this fairly often questions about comfort zone and imposter syndrome and how to overcome various finance stereotypes.

[00:01:50] I think we’re well aware. But those are. To give us the confidence and platform to do it. The real job of finance, which Gary describes as being part of the business solution to key challenges and loads of great, valuable golden nuggets of information. And what Gary says that will help our listeners.

[00:02:07] There are two.

[00:02:08] I hope you enjoy this one. And if you do, we really appreciate when you share it with your friends and colleagues, when all the major platforms, iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon music.

[00:02:17] So thanks again for your support and listening.

[00:02:19] And that’s enough for me for now. So without further ado, over to Gary on the show. So Gary, welcome to the show.

[00:02:28] Gary: Thank you for having me.

[00:02:29] Andrew: And look, it’s our pleasure to have you, and I’ve enjoyed our conversation previously. And it was one of the other guests we had on the show. Susan said, you’ve got to get Gary on. I’m so delighted to share you with our audience. But before we go into our main conversation, would you mind maybe sharing a brief history of your journey in finance with our audience please?

[00:02:48] Gary: I can do that. So my journey is a bit of an objective as you’d expect Andrew, it’s not straightforward. I will. One of those people who left school, we know quality. Which were entirely my fault. I want it to be a DJ. I had my heart set on that. And I did become a radio presenter for a local station for a little while.

[00:03:06] And then I got a job as a forklift driver through the day, cause it could work a shift system, so it could do both. And then a strange thing happened one day. It will recycle implant. And then they used to take, car batteries and what to do is split out the plastic OLED and the asset. And I was in charge of his bays of acid, had big machines, three big machines in these bays that, that put in alkaline that neutralized them.

[00:03:34] And then the waste disposal come up, come and collect him. And know we’re going fine to wouldn’t Monday morning around seven o’clock and. Rain so bad. And all three machines that sat in these bays broke down and they were those situations where we’ll run a bonus that week. Cause big all the going out as well.

[00:03:54] So what is the sounds bizarre by went back to basic maths so worked out the radius of the bays are worked out. How many bags could neutralize each bag? And I got as many people as possible from the factory.

[00:04:07] Everyone stopped because it was starting to float and come out of the bays into the factory. So what did these outlets out to do this? And I’d saw a mobile, I guess people stopped them doing what we’re doing. We had to put rubber equipment on a one to do that. I worked out how to put it in, so it neutralize it.

[00:04:25] So we were doing so many bags in suddenly surface area. And people were a bit surprised and I’d be diagrams worked out to do it. And we only add, we don’t have three, like electronic pH monitoring. So it was really difficult because, and these are big and these were light electronic ones that used to flow across the surface.

[00:04:44] And they used to is that stops working as well. So we had to pull those out and then we’re working out how many bags we put in each and then people were manually leaning over, staring at you. Shouldn’t be dangerous by the way. And we started to get some good readings and the rain carried on coming down and.

[00:05:02] I remember our at the front and we built like a wall of alkaline as well. So we’re nearly running out bags. And then the next thing I knew, Andrew, I woke up in an ambulance w we do get to find out a second of his store. And what had happened is because I work in so close to it, there’s a chemical reaction obviously.

[00:05:19] And although nobody was actually going into bed where it’d be neutralized at the edge of the bed, I started to go in and reach out and sect readings. Usually my math classes were good, but my failure in chemistry led me to not see the chemical reaction, which was occurring. Even though I had like a face mask on before the company, Trendly, by the way, let me say this.

[00:05:44] This is a totally absolved, this chemical, whatever they the sulfuric acid and the alkaline and passed out. So I woke up in an ambulance, passed out, got to hospital. They did some checks, kept me in overnight. And then next day, when you’re hanging around waiting into be discharged, the managing director of the recycling committed only, ever seen twice in a.

[00:06:06] Sort of appears at my bedside and then I fall or elucidate and again, thinking, oh my goodness. The chemicals have had such an impact on it that it just sat down. And he just started talking to me just saying when you collapsed the ambulance camp, but we’d managed to, you’ve actually managed to neutralize.

[00:06:22] All the bays are the bits that did flip out and neutralize. So there were no damage to machinery. Oh the floors or anything in the factory yard and the factory itself. And he says we were back to normal in about four hours. Thanks to everything you did. And then you had these had all these workings.

[00:06:38] I’ve got any girls. This is our finance director. Could not do this, Gary. and then I just told him my story saying, I went to a very good grammar school and it might fall. I decided to leave. They won’t let me take math two, unless it’s a call me or the all the levels of didn’t see me point.

[00:06:56] So I said, that’s entirely down to me. And I says, and a big mistake. And it just says, why don’t you. come and just work in the office. This is, I think you’d be great in that if you can do this type of thinking and it says, it’s the fact that you applied yourself and

[00:07:11] Andrew: yeah, applied.

[00:07:12] Gary: I’ve never seen, it says even my leadership team to do this type of thing.

[00:07:16] So she did that everything and about, part, not just working out the mathematics side of it, altitude is your thought on your feet. And it will, it says, I just want you to come, just work in the office for a month. And this is Phillip, our financial director. It’ll find you some work. And it would a bit odd cause I was thinking we’re going to go nine to five now.

[00:07:35] And I think in the DJ career radio present is not working out as I thought. So I thought I’ll give it a go. And I had a natural aptitude, first of all, just like stumping invoices. And we have people in this, the old ledgers we had about six old ledgers and I’ll write in deliveries in which were gret. And I just took to it, to be honest. And I started looking after purchase ledger. Credit control. We got a computerized system care man had got involved in that system in spare for six months, and this was my chance to relearn and it will like fantastic. And there were no, every day I went in motivated thinking I could be on a forklift truck out in the cold.

[00:08:14] And here I am, people are moaning that the coffee machines broke. This is like heaven. And I just carried on and then I did the AAT. I sit down, we fill it and he says, you should really do a qualification. This is, we can’t give you any time box. It we’re only a small company. They bought all the books and I just stood there and I passed all exams.

[00:08:34] I got a distinction. And then I decided to do CIMA and then we had a chat and he said to me, yeah, I’ll help you look for another job. He says there’s only so much you care. And I discovered script relationships with the managing director, Cole culture, got to know these people and this wonderful story that they used to tell people about the guy who was sitting on theforklift truck.

[00:08:55] Now he does a month-end accounts in time thing. And it was just a really nice store and, the. It gives me some time to go have some interviews. And then their big medical company leads re-advertising for a row. And I went applied for that. When I went in, the guy started moaning about all, there were a big, massive finance team in Leeds and London, and it would just say, you’re doing CIMA

[00:09:19] this is one thing we give people time off it really, the days where if you pass, if you’ve failed one exam, you have to cycle four again. And it’s just having a bit of a bonus session saying, I seem to be giving people time off and yet the CA pass for exams. And I take look, I like studying band.

[00:09:34] The I’m not, I like to start to learn. I’ve developed a, bought some books on self-learning I think will call Tony dues and this and that. I don’t really need time off. And I think the HR person we’re looking at, we think he doesn’t really want some time off to go to college. And it like actually learning by myself.

[00:09:50] And I think that swung it anywhere like grit. And I told you the story as well. So I went there and they got me the books and yeah, past all the years on time, it was so much to learn the, I remember my first jobs. Yeah, we have problems with the balance sheets and simple reconciliations, and there were lots of people involved.

[00:10:09] I think the fact that I’d have to simplify all this, load it into what do I need to know to pass the exams, but I actually liked the subject matter. So darling limit passing exams, I’m actually like, while I’m learning, I started applying to lots of that

[00:10:22] Andrew: when you’re doing that, cause I D I did a seminar route as well. Gary you don’t in terms of the studying. I just like studying by myself.

[00:10:29] I wasn’t a fan of sitting in classrooms, never have been, I was all up for the social side of it. Don’t get me wrong, but just not the classroom side. So like yourself, it was like studying on the bosses to work or whatever, or are taking notes with me to stuff and just quickly looking at them. So I get that.

[00:10:45] But in terms of, I think it’s important though, isn’t it? That you have some other outlet that is not just all work and study, like you

[00:10:52] Can become very doll and tough.

[00:10:54] Gary: Yeah, Andrew, I think that’s fine. And I think at that point, this was before work-life balance. Like a massive savings, more people were aware of it.

[00:11:01] Andrew: Yeah. But you instinctively knew it is, you need to have some out of it,

[00:11:04] Gary: Yeah so football, I’ll loved football. I was going to see Leeds. I used to like playing football. I also played the guitar as well. So I’d often stood there. Actually, I can’t, I wrote some songs around tax accounting,

[00:11:17] Andrew: Oh, no, you

[00:11:18] Gary: it and I’ll fix it and also did the same. I did the same for business law, trying to remember the things I thought, I’m going to remember this. I’m going to put some cards together and I remember it through a chin. And so again, I will come into it with novel ways of actually helping remember things and the Woodford.

[00:11:37] Andrew: I’ve got, I was going to say, have you been spending any disks at all? Have you gone back to that over you? You a forklift at any time since.

[00:11:43] Gary: I did go back to, I’ve been asked to come out of retirement to do veiled, like faults. If I did Willy leads it will leave in due for some days back. I think it was 2014 it a really big night and I thought I’ll be okay. And. People from a Marty department have put banners up and we have an eighties theme thing.

[00:12:02] And when I got that, it will like the starship enterprise I’ve gone from this before. It’s I want to ask, does this work

[00:12:10] Andrew: Yeah.

[00:12:12] Gary: guy? We’re like guy, we’re like, we thought, and there was some we thought that you were like, qualified property age. Back in the eighties, I used to use

[00:12:20] Yeah. It’s like a.

[00:12:21] Andrew: yeah. Where’s the turntables man.

[00:12:26] Gary: Yeah, so I’ve done. I’ve done it. I’ve done a COPO. I’ve done a couple of things, but yet.

[00:12:30] Andrew: it.

[00:12:31] Gary: Yeah. So I am, I just kept interested in what we’re doing. I would interested in finance, but I also got interested in business. I started so. So to build some good relationships I got involved in doing operational account said, which meant that I actually went to work in cock for

[00:12:49] Andrew: I couldn’t believe when you said actually it co cork is a great place to work, but you’ve worked in some, a number of locations.

[00:12:55] Gary: Yeah.

[00:12:56] Andrew: taking you.

[00:12:57] Gary: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I did. So I’ll just quickly jump through. So I ended up working in operational count and then report into a VP in Ireland, actually, which great guy. And then after that, they came to me in desperation saying that they were doing this big it projects of some unknown reason, the it director.

[00:13:16] I do say you seem to know a bit about the business. Gary, you have a finance background, did some of these processes, can you just do this project just while we find some candidates to do it? And it’s I thought two moments. I just need to go in and just need to keep it’s probably all around budgetary control because there’s probably a lot of capital expenditure.

[00:13:34] And four years later I would like, wow, three months wait really quick. And I am, I went to a kid, Leon, we opened. A new office. It was sales, marketing office there. And at the same time, we will put these installations and our chair and steric committees with local groups, trying to make sure that we put standard systems and all the benefits you get.

[00:13:58] So yeah, Leah working in Liam for a year, pretty good. I worked in Italy, works in Germany. And then. For some bizarre reason, they actually asked me to go and set up a new function called strategic marketing. Yeah, I think somebody says to me that you probably the most extrovert accounts that we’ve ever seen in his life and that were like particular box to become in charge of this piece of marketing.

[00:14:21] So I think that that, that will vary.

[00:14:24] Andrew: Just on the strategic marketing. Cause I think a lot of us have studied marketing, the four PS and positioning and all of that. What the heck is strategic marketing? What’s a good definition for it.

[00:14:33] Gary: It is virtually a highly polished four P’s in front of everything. The strategic marketing is trying to say, call the campaigns and all the love of the products and try to look at a more strategic plan of where do those fit in. Now what’s the future products like, what, where do we want to sell those?

[00:14:51] Where should we sell? And I think it’s bringing a lot more structure to it and cohesion, especially where you’ve got multiple countries involved as well. It’s like

[00:15:01] Andrew: look, cause I was just thinking of how do you do, how, like, how does a finance, an accountant professional actually bring the right skills that, and I’m thinking maybe it’s questions or whatever, or that structure a process, like where do we bring the value of that type of work?

[00:15:14] Gary: can I say, Andrew, stop answering the questions.

[00:15:17] Andrew: I’m sorry, I’m trying to think of step ahead. I’m just trying to flesh it out for audio.

[00:15:21] Gary: it. I think there’s some of it actually goes back to when I was studying is actually cause you still did strategic marketing doing CIMA. And a lot of it is around the fall piece. A lot of it is around, having a plan and having a vision, making sure interlock.

[00:15:34] There’s a lot of projects. So from it, I’d learned about project planning skills from fine finances. Finance is a door to everything, it’s a foundation everything has got wifi. So there’s a lot of big spending going on. So my questions were is where do we get what’s returned for this? Why should we do this?

[00:15:50] Why should we do that? I have a project that I learned from customers. It’s okay. So one thing is to, in economics and looking at the markets is what markets are growing faster. Why did we put more money in those markets? Is it the right? Is it developed market? It was developed market and it’s growing fast and there’s good profitability in there.

[00:16:07] Why aren’t we investing more in there? So I could suck were like going back. The record industry. It’s like being on a ship and I’ve been all the master controls and seeing everything. And it’s all about linkage and from a financial point of view, it’s okay between the top line and the bottom line.

[00:16:24] Oh, good. I have to remember this. Now lights could be really biased between turnover and net profit. There’s a lot of activity and it’s like understanding the activities. How it drives up Softline and how it evaporates to bring that bottom. It’s a bit of an art form. And when you understand the pieces that, that interacts with that, so it’s like what drives the sales line at the top?

[00:16:48] It really is around customers. Okay. So what do we know about the marketplace? Are we in the right marketplace? So going back to the other answer, you’ve given me, which is around asking questions. Andrew, a lot of it is around the question though, is basic questions because I think there’s a. A bit of a fear factor.

[00:17:06] We finance people. And I think people call it imposter syndrome, but I probably thrive on that, thinking that it’s good to fail as a, you don’t know everything costs, you really ask the right questions. So if you suck first beat and you go see you saw, you’re from finance, you’ve done obviously this it role, but you sat with commercial people or by

[00:17:26] Andrew: oh God.

[00:17:26] Gary: but very extrovert, very passionate about the products.

[00:17:30] And also, they like to solve. As well, although I’m not staring typing water, commercial paper. So they’re telling you lots of anecdotal stuff, lots of stories. And I think as a finance person, you can take a step. And start to ask for some more factual debt. So it’s why you say that. So what drives you to that opinion?

[00:17:52] And what if we’re growing X percent, what is the marketplace? Was everyone talks about internal growth, but it’s like a real barometer of anything is what’s going on in the marketplace. And just, and again, having the finance background, or this is where it’s really important since we is the study in is not wasted.

[00:18:10] It’s only wasted if you don’t do anything with it

[00:18:12] Andrew: I think it comes back to your first example about the tanks and the neutralizing of the asset and use the Arcola because all the sheets and the calculations, it’s a. That’s where the value comes to being a finance. It’s all about how reply the training. Like we’re not stupid in those rooms. A lot of people that this great training background experiences and whatever it’s about, how do we go and apply?

[00:18:33] And I think that’s we never touched on all the mentoring that you do as well outside. I started all this, but I think we’re getting a lot from our conversation in terms of how you’re packaging it for us, but like this is where I think it’s we actually, how do we encourage people in finance to gain hope and actually apply this stuff.

[00:18:50] And that will work out well.

[00:18:52] Gary: Yeah. Do you know what I’m jus there is a massive deed. The first time that I went out with finance stepped outside the fine, away from the journals away from the spreadsheets and you walk to another part of the building and you go in first conversation. I think I said this, we felt this, oh, this Gary with his big calculator, because and

[00:19:09] Andrew: Oh, the calculator? Yeah. Stereotype.

[00:19:11] Gary: And then I think you’d go from calculate. You do a bit of work with a function and then the girl, oh, this Gary with this flashy spreadsheet

[00:19:19] Andrew: Yeah, spreadsheets.

[00:19:20] Gary: come from calculator, spreadsheet, think things are moving on, but then you start to go in and the girl there’s Gary come in, he has a different opinion.

[00:19:29] He sees things differently.

[00:19:31] Andrew: Yup.

[00:19:32] Gary: you build that up and you build that up by, by listening to people you’ve got to try to understand the business. And to me, there’s, it’s easy to find an excuse to say I’m bogged down in Monsanto bogged down in court rank. I’ve got internal audit,

[00:19:45] Andrew: Yeah.

[00:19:46] Gary: but what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to give yourself loaded and think.

[00:19:51] And you’ve got to minimize all that transactional. Those transactional jobs are very important. Don’t get me wrong. And then the foundation for all the accounting, but that Beck show that they done, timely, make sure don’t accurate, make sure that you spend the time that so necessary on them, get ’em to go a little bit faster, try to make sure that they’re efficient because what you’re trying to do is your job really is to really talk to the businesses.

[00:20:18] Interpret what you see now interpret what the future might look like to a set of different stakeholders. And you need time to do that. And so it’s about to find the time and you will find it. Can’t find an excuse and I’ve been the same but find good time. Go. Now with cha lunchtime to some deal works in sales, a chat to some deal works in MarTech.

[00:20:39] In those conversations, you find out real genuine insights and then you get to know people. And then at some point guaranteed them. There’ll be a project. There’ll be still be a big problem. And you go and you’ll find yourself that, this stuff that other people go and what you bring is something that nobody outside finance does.

[00:20:58] Because you’ve got this overview, you’ve got knowledge, you’re process driven, you’ve got a factual bread and you can start to have conversations and people can see the youth straight away, but you have to get through that. Yeah. You have to get through the day.

[00:21:14] Andrew: yeah. Yeah. And in terms of getting to the door I know you said try and make things more efficient. Is there some simple things that they could do just to free up some time? Cause I completely relate to what you’re saying,

[00:21:25] Gary: Oh, yeah. I think we have the, to do lists and they’re like the tail wagging the dog. It’s come on. You know why?

[00:21:31] Andrew: expression.

[00:21:34] Gary: I think you’ve got to take tough decisions of what’s important in your role. What was the do or die task? What is the do or die stuff? And then when you’re doing them, just say, you’re doing them. Cause you just get complacent. Everybody does. It’s challenge yourself about if it could break all time.

[00:21:51] By doing this a bit quicker. If you could get more time by not doing it because it’s not vain pod, what could you do without sign?

[00:21:58] Andrew: a, It’s a great question. Because I think what you’re touching on here that complacency is probably, is there something to do a comfort zone?

[00:22:05] Gary: Can I taste? It says, I think I will. I’ve been a bit, look, I’ve been lucky that sometimes I’ve been forced out the comfort zone. It’s yeah, just on business processes, you’ve studied it. Go, just go run it for a few months. And that’s difficult. But I’ll tell you what, it’s surprising, what skills you’ve got, which are underutilized down to, oh man.

[00:22:25] I can tell, I tell students, so our banks and I can do this very quickly in a couple of weeks. Say, people have got lots of skills. You just don’t use them and that’s fine, but sometimes you really need to use them. There’s no point in. Just letting them sit there and stuck there is Gerome used, utilize it.

[00:22:43] And the only way you do that is coming out, your comfort zone is now I have this theory and I built a model around this, which I put on LinkedIn, say, you might want to make a small. Just a small little slide out of there, just a little stride and that could be in finance. You might want, you might volunteer to do some kind of new task or you might volunteer to go on a project.

[00:23:03] It’s something that is going to be, and it’s skill versus challenge, is that yes, it’s going to make you feel a little bit uncomfortable, but you only learn sometimes if it does make you feel uncomfortable, but as long as you can build the skill up and the challenge is not insurmountable.

[00:23:18] Then it can be done, but that is going to develop you so much. So just it come just a little strike, but you could do a massive step. You could really volunteer for a cross-functional project, or you could say to the manager, look, I’d like to go present some facts and it could be around business planning.

[00:23:35] It could be around something you’re working on and go to another team that is not a finance.

[00:23:40] Andrew: If you, but if you think about again for those in an organizational structure, right? And that’s what a manager should be able to help you with is help you identify where you can go and learn the stuff you’re interested in. Because if you’re doing stuff you’re interested in or might be interested in or want to try it out, you’re going to put a bit more effort into it.

[00:23:56] And they might challenge you. So I’ll look, if you can make what you do more efficient, that time you save, we can try and put you put that into there. If you don’t share people, what you’re interested in like someone, that you’re not going to get the challenges that are going to push outside the comfort zone, but stuff that you’re going to enjoy feeling like you’re growing.

[00:24:13] I think that goes at everyone’s people want to grow. I don’t think it’s a natural human state to stagnate. I just, I don’t know about you, Gary, but like that just doesn’t feel part of nature. Things, weather, and die. If they stagnate.

[00:24:24] Gary: Yeah. And I I think now it comes, talk about finding on speaker. That’s a great parking issue when I looked at some data for a podcast to date. So you’re right. People get to a level, you get in your role and at first it’s a bit of challenge and you settle down and you start thinking this, okay.

[00:24:41] I’m okay. I might want to do this role in the future. That’ll tell you what quickly happens. I looked at this up, so I looked at. Presented to the survey tool in the us and it do some Doneen AMEA and the RAs pack. So I saw the best parts of the data together. I looked at a financial control that go into an FDA.

[00:25:03] What is the percentage of people that go from a financial controller or are maybe a high level fan to an F D? Do you know what it is? Untrue percentage of

[00:25:10] Andrew: I actually don’t. I don’t. What is it

[00:25:12] Gary: 31%.

[00:25:16] Andrew: from a controller to a direct.

[00:25:20] Gary: And do you know why. Did you know why a lot of that is, is there’s two things. One is, there’s a lot of recycling MFDs if you look at and I know quite a few recruitment

[00:25:30] Andrew: Yeah.

[00:25:31] Gary: FDS, we’ll probably spend three or four years, then they move onto a next half day. And of course, it’s the easiest thing for somebody to say, we’re looking for somebody for experience somebody who’s finance, but comes to CV on finance.

[00:25:43] And that jump up from a financial sponsor and FDA. Recruitment agencies or you get internal HR people. They’re looking for some that virtually extraordinary and the actual numbers stuck out. So it’s if you’re just doing the same old thing, and even if you get to financial control and not stepping out your comfort zone, that’s the point down the road where you want to make that next step.

[00:26:05] You’re going to bumping of this and the facts backed to up. So for me, there’s a lot of staff preparing yourself now. Companies want to see prince, you get to higher level. Don’t want to see it as a real business person. And I think we find those people when you talk to the languages. I saw work in finance.

[00:26:23] I keep the books. Yeah. Keep the books I record

[00:26:29] Andrew: Yeah. So there’s everyone else in finance though, Gary, pretty much, so like how are you that extraordinary know you just trigger something in my head. It’s for me, the people that do make that. Or actually, I think the deciding factor is the natural and the business it’s because they’re seen as business people.

[00:26:46] So the best way is actually that you’ve done your work. You understand the business and people in the business recognize you. So if it’s within the same company, you’ve got the sales VP or director saying, you need to hire this guy for that position. We’re happy to work with sky. We know this guy, we’ve heard great things about this person you’re that’s that’s, what’ll get you those positions.

[00:27:05] And that’s what the edge is. But to get there, it’s actually spending that time, having the coffees with them, going for lunch going out for drinks or dinner with these people, learning their business and becoming a familiar face for them. And delivering for them along the way, if possible.

[00:27:19] Gary: Yeah, I think it is. I think one term that I say, when people say they are, they’re working fine. I says, you’re part of the business solution. You do financial work. You do finance, you do find out your work and that’s like table stakes, Andrew, table stakes. You do financial work.

[00:27:33] That was a piece that, that makes you stand out. Is you are part of the business solution.

[00:27:38] Andrew: What a great free that’s a great reframe. I love that it. Oh it lifts you out to finance that flying down to mindset. Doesn’t it. And your practice, the business. Oh God. That’s amazing. Yeah

[00:27:47] Gary: so one thing that I’d say to listeners yeah. Okay to know your business, what is the biggest challenge of your business overall? So if y’all saw that right now, you can find out a city to do month-end accounting is ask yourself, do you know what the biggest challenge is for your business? Okay. Okay. Did do you know way the business might be in two years time? Do you know what role you could actually play? And actually helping the business move beyond its thinking and what it should be in two years time. Okay. So

[00:28:26] Andrew: Yeah, but like most businesses want to grow. It’s just they want to grow. So how could you be factored that business solution and that I’m borrowing your phrase here at Gary, right? You can actually, I just I’ve seen people even work for me. Create jobs for themselves.

[00:28:38] Gary: Yeah. Yeah. A lot of it is this is the number one thing that I found out untrue. So one thing that you can do coming from finance one thing that leaderships needs is valuable insights because everybody thinks, so cause they’re all experienced people. So you ask them about. It would be about if I asked some of my ex colleagues, there were VPs, wherever about business, Andrew would be six hours into it and still be telling you every favorite year.

[00:29:06] And sometimes they’re only telling you what they know. And the question is, what do they know about the business? What does it know about the business? What do they know about the marketplace? And that’s where you can to me. Cause you’ve got to find the answers. So one thing that day. So this is sometimes that’s said to people, you have to leave a little bit bold.

[00:29:28] Okay.

[00:29:28] Andrew: Yes.

[00:29:30] Gary: Yeah. Yeah. And do my what kind of character are you? You’ve got, if you’ve done those financial exams, you, I can find, she used to pressure, you have your process referred. Yeah. And, everybody’s got a certain set of interpersonal skills, everybody chats, we would talk, it’s just a case of people feel pressurized of Hills over. Can’t do things. It’s an unusual situation to get nervous. So one thing that I did. Untrue. So I had my first big meeting manage strategic marketing, and I delayed this for six, seven weeks. Everyone’s who’s this guy we don’t know is, so what a date is everyone together?

[00:30:05] And we had a quick. And what did, in the meantime is in those six weeks and before it had gone off and found a lots of things about the marketplace, lots of things about people who bought other people’s products, lots of things about where we did vested money, lots of things about technologies that we didn’t know about and tough, and some internal things as well.

[00:30:28] And then we had. So my first time on stage in front of all these people, we’re not the usual chats. So people go, this guy’s from finance. He imagine he’s going to ball these marketing people today. It’s we don’t request

[00:30:39] Andrew: numbers.

[00:30:42] Gary: it’s like this. It was like, yeah. It’s like quiz. Okay. You’ve all got pals.

[00:30:47] So I invested some money in some C panels. So there’s about 2,500. I just put question up, it’d be like, Hey, so is our leading competitor, dah. How many customers did they acquire last year in the G five? UK, Germany, France. It’s essentially just, people. Okay. So is it tight?

[00:31:10] Is it dead? And people sicker babies and they’d be like, okay, so it’s safe, which is 150. Okay. So the ma we grew it X percent last year. What did the market grow it? And then you go minus 1, 2, 3 0 7. Oh date okay. And start answering this, or when you got to the end of it, what I do is I just do a quick, add some new work in there and just say on five of those key questions, probably less than a third of the audience revenue.

[00:31:45] So I think, my challenges and I know that these, some of them are difficult because, maybe not perhaps the sort of market that you know, but what it says is we build in strategy. When we aren’t really Tekken and we do know a lot of knowledge, but maybe we need to just refresh that because things change.

[00:32:04] And so a lot of it while using data using presenting in a way that would achieve and with the chair, A message that you need to bring. And it is around going from it’s going from, here’s a set of data, it’s a finance grasp, few bar charts, few waterfalls, whatever. is that powerful?

[00:32:25] It probably not, but if you get picked, you need an emotional attachment. So what you need to do is you need to say is to say, if I stand up there and say, you don’t know enough about the business, but it’s impossible for anybody to know about. I know everything anyway but some of the things you need to refresh on, you’ve got to challenge yourselves whether you have got blind spots, you’ve got favorite spots and you don’t like the hopefully blind spots wherever it is.

[00:32:48] And so how do you do that in a way that’s informative but also brings about a set of different thinking and thinking that will lead to change. So you can do, that, that works really well, but you can’t think you do different things from finance?

[00:33:04] Andrew: and I think that’s a bit we want to play. I think we focus so much on the insight and insight generation. What about the influencing around the inside? And actually having a data, some sort of impact for the business and it comes back down a business solution. And I think if you really lift ourselves out of accounting and finance for a section a second into that business solution, we might actually find ourselves a bit more successful and linking it and joining it all together.

[00:33:28] And I think you made that point earlier around linkages. I think that’s bringing it all together. Isn’t it pushing outside the comfort zone, learning more? No, one’s going to know everything about the business, but you probably know people who can help you connect the dots,

[00:33:41] Gary: it tastes.

[00:33:42] Andrew: link it to.

[00:33:43] Gary: Yeah. And you can get, if you get the right people in the room, you, there’s a big investment in, you’re looking at it. You need people who understand the business, but understand the outside man. The aspects that you discussing. So you say, what’s the most important thing for the business?

[00:33:59] Is it really to do something in the marketplace? Is it to buy a new piece of machinery? You buy a new piece of machine and we’re not growing in the marketplace. We’re just going to wind up with, and then, everyone’s been complaining about an inventory problem, too much inventory. So you can join up and just say, But if we’re doing repair for growing fast on the marketplace, let’s have a look at the supply chain piece because this is where we could fall over.

[00:34:20] So I’ve been in that overview of a site I’ve in some good pieces a day to not just find downstair to that data as well, which helps us as look at probably some maybe leading indicators, which I think is a great thing where we, my ended up. There’s no surprises. It’s it’s great if you’re from finance, so you could bet I have the no surprise person.

[00:34:41] I refinanced no surprises, it’s great. But you just taking it to a new, a level with different people and you really are part of that business team.

[00:34:51] Andrew: Yeah. Yeah, I bet. And I love the expression be part of the business solution. So I’d know it, Gary look whereby we’ve talked so much to so many different things, dry out. I, all that mentoring that you’ve done over the years is drawing on out, want to be respectful of your time. So you’ve given us great advice, I know the bits of advice or maybe the best bit of advice you’ve ever received.

[00:35:11] Gary: So we said, this says leaders develop leaders, not followers

[00:35:16] Andrew: ooh.

[00:35:16] Gary: And I always like that because when one thing that put me off so of going from manager to some of the level is it’s oh, Mike from finance and I have a way, a different way of doing things. And then I thought. You’ve got to like influence people in a certain way.

[00:35:34] There’s all this I went to in spirit following all usual management practices and then I start to simplify and go, oh, it’s like people. If I talk to somebody in sales about what’s important about financial investments and why we say no sometimes and challenged them. On really how the grow the marketplace and those ugly pieces that might not want to go into those swampy baits, whatever you want to call it.

[00:35:57] If they go into that and we can turn them into submit great bit nurturing and it becomes somewhat thriving in that day, when I get. So my advice to do that, they start leading in their own way. They going, thank you for that, Gary. I’m going to go to my teams now. And I understand when finance say no, we think it’s all about the bottom of the top line.

[00:36:16] There’s lots more to it than that. And you’ll take in a piece to say my piece around growing the market place is just not saying let’s carry on doing the same old and just keep investing at the same time. Let’s go to those spots where these opportunities and you’re going to you forcing me in a bit to challenge myself about how do I get there, but when. Thank great stuff. It’s new, it’s where we can grow. And it’s different ways of doing it, talk about if you can’t have a sales team, why do it is a district? It’s a model, why don’t you go if it’s somewhere like Turkey is if it’s hard to go direct.

[00:36:48] So there may be think of different ways of going to the marketplace. We, we would invest in that. So again, people have these different views of things and I thought leaders not creating a lot of leaders walking round. It’s leading them. So they think in a different way, leading them to a different solution.

[00:37:04] So I see leadership now, when I think about that, as it’s leading them to think in a different way, leading them to challenge themselves. And to me, that’s a different cycle of leadership.

[00:37:14] Andrew: yeah, I really liked that. I really liked that. And actually it takes some of the pressure off of you as well. Then not having to come back to you all the time. They’re starting to being able to create their own. No, how I know how to strive towards it and bring all those along. Yeah, I liked that.

[00:37:27] I, Hey, Gary, again, just again, trying to, how would you say wrap, wrap up on time? If, if our, some of Rodin’s wished to continue the conversation, where’s the best place to connect with you at

[00:37:38] Gary: The best place. So there’s a few places. First of all, LinkedIn I think I’m called Gary cox, just have to remind yourself. I am Cox. So it’s garyamcox, LinkedIn. I also have a website as well called you can succeed. You can. So there’s a website on there. You can contact beyond there as well.

[00:37:57] People leads, I’m doing blinding leads available. Next Friday is going to be hosted and sponsored by sound Sunday. They have a big like sun Sunday unit, which is like a business cafe. So they’re going to let me use that next Friday. And this is one thing I’m doing and So I’ve got quite a few students.

[00:38:16] I’ve got quite a few sort of early mid year. Mid-level sorry. Employees come along and it’s called how to be the perfect candidate. It’s going to be an hour. It’s going to be. When I present, it’s not an event, it’s more of an experience. I want people to feel emotionally attached and walk away what to do some actions not to go, oh, they were pretty slides and he he seems quite interested.

[00:38:38] It has to deliver some it so himself. So in an hour, I’m going to deliver summit, which I guarantee that every person that goes to that will will be. Going to, I’m thinking, I need to act on this. This is so simple, but so yeah, the can do that. And also I have some podcasts doing some podcasts for CIMA.

[00:38:54] I did one which I’ve got lots and lots of feedback. I’m really excited about. How do you set the baysline? How do you start to build the skills that are needed? A lot of that comes from what we’ve talked about today. Andrew, about. About utilizing skills, being seen, building trust with people outside.

[00:39:13] Fine. Getting a mentor coming out your comfort zone as well. Not getting too hung upon roles. Get more experiences, more development and experience those roles will eventually come. Don’t say itself. I need to do this in three years because it just worked. It only worked for about 5% of the people.

[00:39:32] Think about experiences, need utilizing your best skill. And developing new skills and also being able to utilize those, they will help your development so much as well.

[00:39:42] Andrew: I was just about to, actually, again, you talk, you said about me earlier, like answering your question for you. My next question was going to go any parting thoughts, Gary. There were some great ones in there. Did you seriously, you give it to so much any idea of the thoughts you could add

[00:39:55] Gary: I just said, oh, okay. I’ll just say, this is simple. So I thought about this morning. So when I used to go present financial information, even we’re not doing, those graphs that don’t look so good. But we’ve all been there. But there’s always positives. You can find that, but when you go and present and I want to make, people work in finance really don’t just feel good about themselves to show is doing this to a high level is enough to, in a craft.

[00:40:22] And it’s a bit like a picture. And if you imagine two artists, two artists, same color. Same pants, same canvas. Somebody can go a pen picture, but it’s inspiring. It just draws you in. It’s got attachment. You thinking about afterwards or you’re thinking, wow. Another artist can use exactly the same materials draw summit and there’s no attachment.

[00:40:48] It’s just it’s looks okay. It’s it it’s a decent piece of art, but that’s it. There’s no thinking about afterwards is. And that’s what, to me, not just being financed, but using all your financial experience, thinking self as a part of a business solution. And then when you interact, make those interactions count, be the artist that draws people in be that artist that, where people want to see Maria work.

[00:41:15] And that’s probably the best analogy.com gave.

[00:41:18] Andrew: I love it. I great advice. I was quickly scribbling down. I love that analogy about the two artists. You’ve Sprocket notes ideas off of my head, Gary and I completely agree with you. What we do is a craft form that’s why I love it so much. That’s why I love doing these podcasts and love bringing and sharing great guests like yourself, Gary.

[00:41:35] So thanks to bill for being such a great guest mentor on strength in the numbers today.

[00:41:39] Gary: I’d say it’s been an absolute pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed chatting, Andrew. Yeah, good luck to everyone out there. Feel free to contact me. I’m an easy going guy. I’m not into hard sales or anything. I just want to help people, but thank you, Andrew.


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