We were delighted to welcome Stuart Roberts, Group Finance Director of Robertson Group, as a speaker in the latest of our Next Generation CFO series.
It is fair to say that Robertson Group is one of those large, privately owned businesses in Scotland that often flies under the radar. However, with 50 years in business, revenues in excess of £450m per annum and 2,000 employees across 8 locations, Robertson Group is certainly one of Scotland’s success stories. Also, it is a business that, quite literally, has an impact on the Scottish landscape having built the award winning Dulmanach Distillery in Speyside, transforming many of Glasgow and Edinburgh’s neighbourhoods though the Urban Union initiative and currently undertaking their largest ever construction project with the £100m development of The Macallan distillery and visitor centre.
Stuart’s path to become the Group Finance Director of a leading construction company has been different to many of his industry peers. Following the completion of his Economics degree from The University of Stirling, he joined the Bank of Scotland’s graduate trainee programme and qualified as a Chartered Accountant via the TOPPS scheme. With a natural nose for deals, Stuart moved into the Integrated Finance team before switching banks to RBS to head up their Structured Finance offering in Aberdeen in 2008.
However, the challenge at that time was far from easy and Stuart learnt many valuable lessons in managing relationships and maintaining team morale while RBS rapidly changed their approach in reaction to the Financial Services crisis. Two years later, Stuart moved to Investment Bankers, Quayle Munro, to specialise in debt advisory and corporate finance before being headhunted to join Robertson Group in early 2012. In those first couple of years specifically, his background in banking and corporate finance were invaluable as Robertson underwent a significant refinancing exercise to give them the headroom to operate and grow, the fruits of which are now plain to see.
Stuart based his presentation around what he terms as “The 3 Consistent’s”; these being:
1 – Pictures of the Queen – without cash, whatever your sector, your business can’t operate.
2 – The Mirror Test – always question your decisions and, when you make them, be comfortable that you can look yourself in the mirror afterwards
3 – The Helicopter Test –take time to step back from the detail and question how your decisions affect the whole business and its people
At the end of the session, Stuart shared his recommendations on building a successful career:
- Develop different management styles – base it on individuals rather than taking a generic approach and always treat people with respect, irrespective of their level or function
- Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – rigorous diligence, especially in low margin businesses, is paramount to mitigating risk
- Importance of governance and process – even in businesses not forced to do so due to external requirements
- Networking – talk to people (internal and external) – get out the office and don’t rely too heavily on email (you never know when you might need a favour!)
- Sensitivities and contingencies – ensure you have financial headroom and ask yourself would you make the decision if it was your money
To find out more about our Next Generation CFO programme, or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact Mark Lewis on [email protected].