Following a decision to make a career transition into finance James joined Cheesmur Building Contractors in August 2008 to run an accounts department of a struggling business. Undeterred and determined he succeeded in helping turn the tide. For five years the company has delivered positive annual results and achieved a positive balance sheet after four years, a year ahead of the target agreed with the bank.
James is now a key member of a successful and growing business and thoroughly deserves recognition for his achievement. We had the opportunity to catch up with him at the Awards to find out more….
What made you decide to pursue a career in finance?
Towards the end of what had been a 15 year stretch in retail management I gained visibility of various bookkeeping and accounts preparation duties and realised that this was something that I enjoyed far more than what I was doing in retail at the time. So, in 2007 I took a huge leap of faith and gave it all up to start a career in accountancy.
Where did you begin?
I began my accountancy career as maternity cover for an Accounts Assistant with a pharmaceutical company in Brighton. With no experience and being a bit older than most of the other applicants, it took a while for the agency I was registered to find an interested employer but I think the fact that I was offered a full time role shortly after joining meant that the Finance Director who took the chance on me was vindicated in her decision.
Who has been your mentor?
I'd say it was my first Retail Manager, Bruce Harman who was my first boss after leaving University. Bruce mentored me in the realities of the work environment, dealing with people, managing and prioritizing my work load, dealing with a range of situations and how to conduct myself in a professional and hardworking manner, ultimately helping me to get my first management position. These skills that have also been invaluable in my relatively short accountancy career.
What has been your most significant work achievement ?
When I joined Cheesmur Senior Management believed that the company could be salvaged and with bank support and their own funds staged a management buy-out in January 2009. As the only accounts team employee I decided to use this as an opportunity to prove myself and help turn things round. I worked hard with the management team to successfully negotiate and deliver the payment plan agreed with the creditors. For five years the company has delivered positive annual results and achieved a positive balance sheet after four years, a year ahead of the target agreed with the bank.
What is your long term goal?
To see Cheesmur Building Contractors grow into a leader within its market and to be on the crest of the wave as it happens.
How did it feel to win 'PQ of the Year'?
I was absolutely dumbfounded. I was so proud to have been shortlisted and feeling a sense of achievement at having made it that far I was quite relaxed before my name was called, not expecting to be suddenly ushered out of my seat by my boss. Having met some of the other nominees in my category I feel very honoured and humbled. Yet I feel this award is not just recognition for me, but Cheesmur as a whole. It still hasn't sunk in yet!
To find out how James managed to turn things round and what his top tips are for PQs keep an eye on our blog.