Making the Move From Multinational to SME – A Financial Controller’s Tale

Paul McClatchie

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In our ‘Making the Move’ series, Engage People speaks to Financial Professionals about their experiences of a new challenge. Stephanie is a Chartered Accountant who qualified in 1998 and spent 15 years with two major US Multinationals in the Tech and Software arena until making the move to an indigenous Irish company in 2013.

“While I was content in my role, I expressed an interest in the role as it seemed like an interesting organisation and was slightly closer to home. I wasn’t actively looking but felt that I had peaked in the area of leading big finance teams and having recently completed two acquisitions, we had been through a lot of hard work. The environment I had worked in was excellent in that we hired super people and everything was taken care of from a training and on boarding perspective. We had plenty of work to get through and while the role had some commercial challenges, the primary focus of my job was to ensure that the financial information was entirely accurate met with Corporate and Market expectations”

Upon meeting the Business Owner (a 15m t/o Irish business) Stephanie and himself clicked and while he was brutally honest about some of the challenges they had faced around cash flow and the requirement for a systems upgrade, it appeared to be an exciting story. Stephanie met the Accountants/Advisors who had all the information required and to her surprise, she was successful through the interview process.

“I haven’t looked back – I certainly valued my time with bigger organisations but the most satisfaction I gain now is from the impact I have on the commercial business dealings. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of challenges, not least agreeing a budget for the Sales Manager and team! We also had to build in a new systems process that the business found challenging at first but we gradually turned the corner to a more efficient model where cash is collected quicker (through a stronger sales/invoicing process) and we hired a strong IT/Project Manager who has played a huge part in coordinating all aspects of the business system requirements.”

And advice for others considering making the move “well firstly it’s not an easy move to make as sometimes we are put ‘in a box’ as a big company accountant but it has worked really well for me. I’m not working any less hours and the range of tasks I’m involved in now really varies but that suits me. I think the key thing to prioritise is the relationship with the business owner/leader and Management team. We had plenty of work to do but as there was a plan for the business where clarity was valued, it meant we got through and overcame the internal challenges that had existed. Three years on and we have increased top and bottom line figures and on a good path.”