Next Generation CFO with Stuart Lorimer, AG Barr plc

Mark Lewis shares insight following our Next Generation CFO event with CFO of AG Barr plc, Stuart Lorimer.

We were delighted to welcome Stuart Lorimer, Finance Director of AG Barr plc, as a speaker in the latest of our Next Generation CFO series.

As one of Scotland’s most iconic businesses, AG Barr immediately captures the imagination and most of the audience had grown up surrounded by their brands. In Scottish terms, AG Barr is a big business, sitting in the FTSE 250 with a thousand employees and £250m of annual turnover. Moreover, in the last few years, the business has accelerated its growth by launching new brands and moving into new geographies.

For Stuart who had spent 22 years within Diageo before moving to AG Barr 18 months ago, this was a significant change of landscape having spent the vast majority of his career with a truly global giant in the alcoholic beverages space. The numbers at Diageo are staggering; a £50 billion turnover business and over 200 brands. Despite both companies being involved broadly in the drinks industry, Stuart’s view was that in many ways the two companies could not be more different.

In terms of career path, Stuart studied at Glasgow University before going onto train as a CA with KPMG. On qualifying, he moved to Diageo and during his career there performed 19 roles, moved home 5 times and worked for 21 bosses – some of them more than once! On the last statistic, Stuart’s advice was clear – always to leave on good terms as you never know when you might end up working for someone again.

Understanding what you want to be in Stuart’s opinion comes down to optimising your options. For a career within a global business such as Diageo, flexibility on location was a must in order to progress regularly whereas in a Scottish headquartered business like AG Barr many more roles would be available locally.

At the end of the session, Stuart shared his top tips on building a successful career:

  • Deliver performance in role – over deliver if you can
  • Be yourself but develop continually – listen to feedback, address weaknesses and put new skills into practice (easy to say, hard to do)
  • Put effort into creating and developing your network
  • Be flexible don’t fixate on just one path – leadership is often the differentiator so get as much experience as you can
  • Develop your successor and be comfortable recruiting people who are better than you
  • As the business partner, be their best friend and sharpest critic
  • Don’t wait – if it’s a good idea, do it now!

To find out more about our Next Generation CFO programme, or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact Mark Lewis on [email protected].