Building a successful career in finance with Carole Cran, Aggreko

Mark Lewis shares insight following our Next Generation CFO event with CFO of Aggreko, Carole Cran as we conclude our 2015 event programme.

This week, we were delighted to welcome Carole Cran of Aggreko PLC as a speaker in our 2015 Next Generation CFO series. As one of Scotland’s most prominent CFOs and one of the few female FTSE 250 PLC finance leaders in Scotland, our audience was intrigued to hear Carole share her thoughts on building a successful career and experiences of making the transition to CFO.

During her talk to our audience of prominent finance professionals at HSBC’s offices in Glasgow, Carole shared her top tips on progressing in a career in finance, the key points of which are summarised below:

  • Variety is key – accumulate as much experience across various areas in finance as you can
  • Be as clear on what you don’t want to do as what you do want to do
  • Believe in yourself and take the occasional leap of faith
  • Remember that the more senior you become the less your technical skills count as leadership comes to the fore
  • Build a good colleague, peer and external network – remember quality wins over quantity in this regard
  • Do roles that make you want to get out of bed in the morning!

By taking this approach, Carole progressed her career at Aggreko over 10 years, from the role of Group Planning Manager to Group Financial Controller before taking the position of CFO 18 months ago.

Carole shared insight into her current role, outlining the challenges and also some effective behaviours. She highlighted the pressures that the CFO role can at times present, stating that often it is difficult to find time to think, and that often you are scrutinised with many judging you by what you don’t say rather than what you do.

Despite the scrutiny, Carole’s style is very much open and transparent. She noted that it can be useful to have an external mentor as part of your wider network who can help you to navigate these challenges. It is, however, important that you chose a mentor who has a different approach and characteristics to your own so as to provide appropriate challenge.

Carole also stated that making the transition to CFO can be challenging and shared her top tips on how to manage the process, which are summarised below.

  • Get to know your CEO, Exec and Board quickly
  • Find your own style quickly, setting the tone from the top – be yourself rather than replicating someone else’s approach
  • Don’t expect to spend much time on technical finance but don’t forgot the day job – spend more time on organisational design and managing risk
  • Get your team right – appointing the right direct reports will be crucial to your success
  • Listen to all available advice but be selective on what you choose to act on
  • Make sure you have /get good relationships with debt & equity

Although Carole hasn’t taken a ‘structured planning’ approach to her career, she has always known what she has and hasn’t wanted to do. She also had a specific message to women looking to take on the role of CFO, saying that they need to be braver in putting themselves forward to take the next step and believe in their own abilities

For more information about Rutherford Cross’ Next Generation CFO events programme in 2016, or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact [email protected] or call the team on 0131 603 8111/0141 611 7770.