23 February, 2015

Why Finance at M&S?

I joined the Finance group at M&S as a graduate after gaining an Economics degree at University of Warwick. I wanted a career in finance and applied to a number of companies including the ‘big 4’ accountancy firms.

M&S appealed because of the fantastic sponsorship they offer graduates to complete either CIMA or ACCA qualifications. Today this is still very competitive, with four days off for each exam, which has helped hundreds of people at M&S attain an accounting qualification.

But the main attraction of M&S was the wide breadth of roles that exist within Finance, thanks to the size of the organisation and a willingness to move people into roles that will broaden their experience. And I haven’t been disappointed. In my 11 years here, I’ve been fortunate to take on a number of great roles within Finance and beyond, including my current role of Head of Finance – International & Marketing. Previously, I have been Head of Group Planning & Reporting, Head of Operations & Finance – Simply Food Division, Investor Relations Manager and Head of Cost & Capital.

We invest a significant amount in developing talented people who can work collaboratively and do the right thing for our customers. In the last few years, I’ve led a programme to accelerate the skills development of people recognised as having High Potential. I now lead a group that manages the talent pool of around 100 qualified accountants. Not only does this group ensure we can provide the best possible development opportunities for our people, but that we can continue to develop talent for the future. It’s a big investment of time but worth it.

The retail industry is very fast paced. Finance isn’t about adding up numbers; it plays an important part in decision-making and innovating to make the business better. In my current role, I get involved in lots of different things from strategic planning, preparing business cases for new stores and other opportunities, funding our International companies, managing costs and identifying opportunities to improve international profit.

No two days have been the same in any of my roles. I wouldn’t have stayed for so long if M&S wasn’t a great place to work with great people, each with their own unique skills and experience.

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