Chief Financial Officer, Aesop.
When I was employed at Sony in London, CPA Australia approached me to do an ad for a campaign they were running about CPAs living and working overseas. I was impressed at the quality of the ad and how far CPA Australia went to put it together, even if I wasn’t sure it was “me”.
After the campaign, I got messages and pictures from people that saw me in the ads everywhere, including bus shelters. I was glad that I was out of the country then!
Working for Sony for seven years was an incredible experience, but it kept my family and me overseas longer than I anticipated. It was a great role, but there came a time when I realised we had to come home.
I learned a lot at Sony and when I returned to Australia I started looking at the media, entertainment, telco space. Transitioning from Sony and coming back to Australia was an uncertain period in my life. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do.
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I actually turned down a couple of positions at Telstra before I accepted the position of head of retail finance, commercial manager. It was the thought of being part of a retail transformation that convinced me to accept.
I thought that I had a good knowledge of the consumer world, but not retail, and Telstra was about to begin a project that would open, relocate or refresh 300 stores in Australia.
It was a real project of change in a big corporation, and it was a little MBA of retail for me – we were starting again, tearing down past channels. It directly affected consumers and was mobilised across different parts of the organisation.
I brought the financial discipline and approach to track and monitor the project.
Over the years, I’ve gone from organising and coordinating changes to managing and steering. I guess that has more to do with personal development.
At Aesop [the skincare company] I look after more than just finance functions – supply chain, IT and general admin. It’s very cross-functional, and it requires a different approach because I’m not an expert in these other areas.
Building teams is important, as is evolving and recruiting. I’ve heard people say that in the past, and it’s difficult to understand without doing.
Joining Aesop six years ago was a definite career high. It was a different company then, and I didn’t think I’d ever get to manage a small subsidiary out of Melbourne, or be with such a unique brand.
In Aesop, the past six years have seen great growth and brand development, and we’ve entered new markets. It’s now 10 times bigger than it was when I joined.
What would you tell your younger self?
Believe in yourself and the foundations you make for yourself and the learning that you do in your career.
Be dedicated and work hard, and it’ll hold you in good stead. Not to mention, your personal and professional journeys should align.
This article is from the August 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.