The Insider: Neil Fanning CPA

Neil Fanning CPA | Photo: Michael Robert Williams

Serving up the numbers in food service.

Neil Fanning CPA is regional financial controller (Europe & Japan), Compass Group

Specialists in providing food and support services, Compass Group is a Fortune 500 company operating in about 50 countries and employing more than 500,000 people. In 2013 the group generated global revenue in excess of A$31 billion, serving more than four billion meals along the way. London-based Neil Fanning works as the group’s regional finance controller in Europe and Japan.

My job involves a lot of travel. I’m in Stockholm today, I was in Norway yesterday and I’m due in Finland tomorrow.

Then it’s Budapest next week and off to Austria and Denmark the week after. I spend more than 30 per cent of my time travelling.

When I find some spare time, I like to sightsee and explore a country’s local food. I get a real buzz when I land in a different country and everything smells and looks different.

To do this role, you need to have an inherent love of travel, and I constantly remind myself how lucky I am.

I started in hospitality at the age of 15. I’ve cooked the food, served the food, washed the dishes, poured the beer, checked the guests in and even fixed their televisions.

I’d encourage any budding finance executive to get some hands-on experience in the industry that interests them. It motivated me to take the next steps.

I joined Compass Group Australia in 2005 and performed roles in Melbourne and Perth. I now work in different countries throughout Europe and in Japan.

Food service is a relatively low-margin industry, so the key is to continually improve quality and efficiency.

I guess it’s the same for everyone, but with our scale, every small step towards greater efficiency drives margin and bolsters our competitive advantage.

Our clients come from all walks of life. In Stockholm, we look after large automotive manufacturers, but also cater for clients from the local school to international boardrooms and royal occasions.

The benefit of outsourcing catering is that our clients can focus on their core business and let us run with the rest, because that’s what we do and we do it well.

We can provide great quality and variety, we have the highest international standards on health and safety, and we’ll do it all for them while they get on with their job.

I’d encourage any budding finance executive to get some hands-on experience in the industry that interests them.

One of the key advantages we have as a global group is sharing and implementing the best initiatives across borders and countries.

We bring people together with the right skill sets and ideas, and our clients and employees get the direct benefits.

Our focus remains on growth. Business is truly all about people – effective communication, shared motivation and an ability to enact positive change at all levels.

I don’t know about other accountants, but I’d prefer to make the money than count the money. Will saying that get me in trouble? Maybe I’m not your traditional beanie!

Trick of the trade

Good food service is all about providing a memorable sensory experience and never forgetting you eat with your eyes and a smile goes a mile.

This article is from the November 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.

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