Kathren joined JM Glendinning as head of operational finance in 2014 and four years later is leading a team of six, as group finance director. One year on since taking the finance director role, Kathren shares her route to the top and explains what makes the job so rewarding.
How did your career in finance begin?
I trained in electrical, electronic and computer engineering when I left school and completed a BTEC course in the subject. I’m quite a logical person and also enjoyed programming, but after securing a role as an electronic test engineer and circuit board designer I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. That is when I entered the world of finance. I started as an accounts clerk for a fibre optic supply and installation company in April 1993. Two years later, I decided to start my accountancy studies and enrolled with the local college for the Association of Accounting Technicians, later qualified with the ACCA and the rest is history.
How has your career in the insurance industry developed?
I moved to Kent in 2002, looking for a career developing role, which is when I joined the Towergate Partnership as regional financial controller. This is where I met Nick Houghton (JM Glendinning group MD), who at that time was the Towergate Professional Risks MD. Nick moved on and I moved back to the north of England in 2007 and continued to build a robust accounting team, responsible for four large divisions and associated accounting reporting.
I had maintained contact with Nick and, when my role at Towergate had been made redundant due to location, Nick informed me that there was a newly created position at JM Glendinning that had my name on it. I moved to JM Glendinning in 2014 as the group entered a period of significant growth and needed strong underpinning financial management information reporting and controls. I’ve honestly enjoyed every day since I joined as head of operational finance and the fear that I might not have enough to do and get bored was a complete myth.
How has your role changed?
Being promoted to group FD is a big step and I had big boots to fill when the previous finance director retired. I have given it my all though and whilst it is hard work, I get a great deal of achievement and satisfaction from doing the job well. I’m making it my own whilst delivering accurate reports and helping each group business achieve budget and set targets.
Improved technology has also changed my role. We’re always making changes to improve efficiency and will soon implement a new stand-alone finance package, which is outside the broking system and will improve our agility. It’s important that we continue to implement systems that offer quality and reliable reporting so that we can continue to offer such a valuable service as we grow.
What do you enjoy most about the role?
The people around me make my role a real pleasure. Supporting my team of six financial staff and empowering them to achieve their full potential is incredibly rewarding.
The role offers such variety that every day is completely different.
What do you like most about working at JM Glendinning?
The business doesn’t stand still. Because of the structure of the business, decisions are made quickly, often to the benefit of the whole group. Any ideas we put forward are considered and if it’s a good idea, we can give it a go. I feel valued and I feel my opinions are valued, which is a great position to be in.
What qualities do you bring to the role?
I’m analytically-minded, resilient and thorough – all of which I believe are vital for this role. I’m also a straight-talking Derbyshire lass and call a spade a spade. Honesty is always the best policy in any business.
What does the future hold at JM Glendinning?
I think it’s exciting working towards our growth objectives and meeting challenges this brings, head on. Our department is already geared up for this growth and I look forward to being part of the journey.
What are your interests outside of work?
I have two young children and enjoy getting out on our bikes and out in the fresh air as much as possible. We own a touring caravan so we frequently pack that up and head off for long weekends, bikes loaded on the back. I’ve also been known to take the caravan to Scarborough over school holidays – my husband looks after the kids whilst I work from the Scarborough office. It gives me the opportunity to keep in touch with colleagues and enjoy evenings and weekends with my family, at the seaside.