Project partners on an automation mission at Fiji Airways

With a collaborative and honest relationship, Shulun Janif CPA and Stuart Anderson CPA are on an automation mission at Fiji Airways. Image: Ropate Kama.

Stuart Anderson CPA and Shulun Janif CPA found their skills and experience complementary when they started implementing new projects at Fiji Airways.

Shulun Janif CPA

Finance manager, special projects, Fiji Airways

“Stuart and I have been part of the same finance team for the past four years; however, I only started working closely with him since taking my new role in 2017. We first worked together on the financial system re-implementation project, which also included implementation of another project, automated workflows.

Stuart holds the accounts payable function very close to his heart, and has a huge amount of experience in that area. He was really helpful throughout the journey for getting the project approved and finally implemented.

There were a lot of hurdles, but we worked through it together. His ideas are great, as he talks from experience. It’s the approval and implementation that are challenging, which is where I come in. That’s probably what makes us a great team.

My first impression of Stuart was that he was very well organised and helpful. I did not know him very well, but I went to him and asked him for help on the business case justification I was working on. He reviewed the file and came back to me within half an hour. I was impressed by that.

Over the last two years, Stuart and I have become really comfortable working with each other. We can be honest, critical, and funny – sometimes we are under a lot of stress – but we work through any challenges. He is still well organised and helpful, I had that right, but I’ve also realised that while he is highly experienced, he is very down-to-earth and a great listener.

We’re both passionate about creating automation and efficiency in the finance department, so that the team does not have to do tasks manually. I’ve learned from Stuart to believe in our team, to maximise their strengths – sometimes you have to let go and trust your team to deliver what is required.

Before, if Stuart had a disagreement with someone, he would get upset and reserved; however, I think now he has found his own way of dealing with it, and will stand his ground if challenged, in a very tactful way.

If Stuart has a weakness, it is that he does not take well to anything that disrupts his well-planned and organised schedule – whether it’s an ad hoc task or a flight that is delayed. His strength is his supportive nature, which also makes him very approachable. That and the fact that he has been to every continent – and of course he has got some great Michael Jackson moves!

What would Stuart change about Shulun?
There’s only one thing – her speed of vocal delivery. If Shulun could slow down from speaking 1000 words a minute to 500, that’d be great. It’s OK, I’ve already told her this!”

Stuart Anderson CPA

General manager financial services, Fiji Airways

“I started working closely with Shulun in 2017 on the upgrade of our ageing ERP system, which took almost two years. My first impression was that Shulun was highly professional and confident, but also what I’d call a little “tightly wound”. I put that down to having worked in our corporate finance team, which was a small team with a lot of demands on them, so she always seemed to be under a lot of pressure.

Today, I think we work really well together. We have a very collaborative and honest relationship, and we’re comfortable with being upfront about our views and opinions. We’ve built up a lot of trust. For me, that’s very important – I can rely on Shulun.

She is very thorough, pragmatic, determined and goal-oriented: great assets in the project world. Her strength is her can-do attitude. If she has a weakness, it’s that she sometimes tries to over-prepare – I think she could rely on her instincts more because when she does, they’re usually right!

One thing we share is that we understand that the airline business is very customer-centric. We never forget that passengers have a choice – we try to bring that passion to the heart of finance, making sure that our projects (and other services) deliver what our customers want.

We complement each other. Apart from age, I think the biggest difference is the detail. I tend to look at things from a more helicopter view – which is required from the big-picture standpoint – whereas Shulun will delve into the details of spreadsheets, contracts, vendor billings and so on, to make sure I’m not missing anything vital.

Shulun is more fearless: I tend towards caution, whereas Shulun has a “let’s go for it, let’s get it done” approach. Finally, I do think that the “experience” gap – I’d rather call it that than an age gap – creates great opportunities to learn from each other. Shulun has taught me that listening is a great skill, and that you have to work on it. 

From someone who I thought needed to relax a bit, Shulun has become far more self-assured and selfconfident, which helps to make her stand out as our project expert.

What would Shulun change about Stuart?
Stuart does not like waiting in line, and loses his patience easily. I have already told him this, and asked him not to get upset. Some situations are beyond your control, so what’s the point upsetting yourself?

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August 2019
August 2019

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