Future Finance Leaders Forum with Anila Jayaraman of Whyte & Mackay

On Friday 31st May, Manager Harry Young hosted the fourth instalment of the Future Finance Leaders Forum. This event series is aimed at the most highly aspirant accountants who have qualified within the last 6 years in West and Central Scotland.

The purpose of the event series is to connect future finance leaders, allowing them to network with like-minded individuals whilst also providing them with insights from our network of established leaders, helping to shape their careers and accelerate their professional development. Harry shares some highlights from the recent event below.

The fourth event in the Future Finance Leaders Forum series was a roundtable lunch in partnership with Anila Jayaraman, Head of Commercial Finance at premium drinks business, Whyte & Mackay. At this exclusive invite-only event, Anila discussed her unique journey to leadership within one of Scotland’s most well-known and best-loved premium drinks businesses. This was a fascinating presentation to listen to as she provided hugely insightful advice on progressing your career and achieving your ambitions.

Anila started her career by completing an MBA at Ohio University, before joining Nestle in the Middle East, spending one and a half years there and progressing to Business Analyst. She then moved to Scotland and joined First Milk as their Business Information Manager; spending nine years there before moving to Whyte & Mackay in 2015. She initially joined the team as a Commercial Business Partner before progressing to Manager in 2021, and finally to her current role as Head of Commercial Finance last year.

During this roundtable event, Anila shared five key principles and insights that helped her to progress in her career and achieve her ambitions.


Five Principles and Insights


  1. Never be afraid to own up to a mistake.

We are all humans, we make mistakes. It would be remiss of us to think that we are beyond that, no matter how many years of experience we have under our belt. The important thing is that if you make a mistake, take responsibility for it, admit it, learn from it and be sure not to make it again! A new mistake is always forgiven, but the same mistake made repeatedly will prove deadly.


  1. It isn’t about knowing everything.

 It is important to accept that you will never know everything. The ability to identify your knowledge gaps, and define which areas are most valuable to develop, is key.


  1. Always build bridges.

Working in silos will never get you anywhere. It allows you to understand your own role and your immediate team, but it won’t allow you to build relationships across the business.

Being kind to others doesn’t cost you anything. Treat others with respect and try to communicate with them in their preferred way. If a bridge with a colleague is broken, make a conscious effort to mend it.


  1. Be curious.

Be curious about everything and never stop learning. If you don’t know, ask! Even if you are in a big meeting, with 100s of people, never be afraid to ask if you don’t know. It is better to ask and appear stupid than be silent and remain stupid. This also ties in with the above point of not working in silos.

Take an interest in other parts of the business, outside of your own function. Make sure that you know your own impact on the wider business. If you keep learning and broadening your own understanding, you will never go unnoticed.


  1. Be positive.

Life will throw many things at you, some good, others not so good. The important thing is to always be positive. If you have a problem, ask yourself one question: “can I do anything about this?”. If the answer is yes, then the answer is simple: fix it. If the answer is no, just let go. This is easier said than done, but the more you practise, the easier it becomes to let go. If you can’t come up with an answer, don’t make it even more complicated than it needs to be! Leave it and time will sort it out. There is nothing that time can’t solve.

The more you practise this, the more positive a person you become, and this will stand you in good stead in the long run too. People like to be surrounded by positivity, so this will also help you build those bridges.


We were delighted to partner with Anila on this event; her insights, candour and experience were warmly received by the table. All attendees had a great afternoon! We have two more future finance leader roundtables already lined up for this year and are excited to be announcing our next speaker shortly for our next event in September.


To register your interest in joining the Future Finance Leaders Forum and to be notified regarding future events, please contact Harry Young at [email protected].