Planning Your Career Journey with Stewart Brown and Siebrand Wolberink: Part 1

Rutherford Cross recently hosted its latest virtual Planning Your Career Journey event featuring Stewart Brown – Head of Internal Audit at Macfarlane Group and Siebrand Wolberink, Head of Audit & Risk at Skyscanner.

The aim of our PYCJ events is to support those starting out in their careers in finance, encouraging attendees to focus on what matters in their career, and sharing advice of those who are further along in their journeys.  At this event, we started our session with a poll asking the audience what is most important to them in the workplace. The results were as follows:

  • Culture – 53%
  • Satisfaction – 27%
  • Flexibility – 20%
  • Remuneration – 0%

During the event, each of our speakers shared their own career journeys with our audience and highlighted the approaches that had allowed them to progress to the roles they hold today.  In this first instalment of, we share Stewart Brown’s insights.

Stewart Brown, Head of Internal Audit at MacFarlane Group, Vice Chair of the Scottish Regional Committee of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors

Stewart has worked for Macfarlane Group within Internal Audit for the last four years. The organisation was established in 1949 by Lord Macfarlane and is the leading distributor of protective packaging materials in the UK, employing c900 people and operating through nationwide distribution centres.

The manufacturing operations within the Group are involved in the design, manufacture and assembly of bespoke packaging solutions for customers requiring cost effective methods of protecting higher value products in storage and transport.  Additionally, they design and manufacture self-adhesive and resealable labels for major FMCG customers in the UK, Europe and the USA.


Career Journey:

Having started a family very young and not completing university, Stewart took on a customer service role at Morgan Stanley, opting for this as from a young age he had wanted to be part of a large organisation with readily available opportunities.

Stewart went on to train as an underwriter with Morgan Stanley and looked to leverage this experience to quickly progress his career.   Although he felt capable of progressing, he was unsuccessful in applying for new roles internally and externally.  He decided that a change of approach was needed and he refocused his efforts in further developing his knowledge and skills.  This was recognised internally and an opportunity to get involved in a User Acceptance Testing project led to him taking on a role developing policies and procedures within the new accounts and fraud risk teams.

After some time at Goldfish, and a move into Internal Audit, Stewart found himself a casualty of the credit crunch.  He was fortunate to secure a role at Scott Moncrieff.  Landing this new role acted as a  catalyst for his career.  He worked hard, completed his IIA qualifications and was promoted quickly.

Stewart then decided he needed to diversify as he was mainly working with public sector clients, and after nearly seven years in the profession he moved to CBRE, into a second line role.  This was a mistake for him, and he realised his passion sat within third line.  Fortunately, the power of network was in his favour.  Stewart was approached by someone he knew, who had moved to Macfarlane as Head of Internal Audit.  He joined Macfarlane Group in 2016, and was promoted to Head of Internal Audit in June 2020.


The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors:

Stewart decided he wanted to give something back following his qualification as a Chartered Internal Auditor.  He joined the Scottish CIIA Committee and has since been appointed as Regional Vice Chair.  He strongly believes that this has helped his career from a networking perspective, but also by offering an opportunity to share best practice amongst likeminded individuals.


Stewart’s reflections:

  • Understand your vision, your values, interests, skills, etc
  • Listen to feedback – it can pinpoint issues that are holding you back
  • Take your time! Be persistent, but recognise when your approach is not working
  • Develop specialist knowledge when you can
  • Broaden your network internally and externally

To find out more about Rutherford Cross events, or to discuss your internal audit recruitment needs, please contact [email protected].