Welcome to another interview in the leadership insights series where I share the thoughts of those with extensive experience in leadership. Today’s insights come from senior finance professional and business leader Andrew Mills.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your career (or business)
I’m 48 years old, married with 2 children, qualified accountant and Fellow of The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.
Currently putting together an investment portfolio for my own business Roland Investments.
Most recently worked as the CFO / COO of a large Private Equity held education business specialising in the international student education market. I have also previously worked in Healthcare, Automotive Design and Financial Services sectors.
In the course of my career my family and I have moved 4 times across three countries [UK, USA and Australia] and travelled extensively in my roles.
How long have you been in a leadership or management role?
I have been in a senior executive leadership / director role for about 20 years but I believe that leadership skills and traits can be demonstrated at all levels so arguably I have held a leadership role for most of my working life.
What do you regard as some of the essentials to being an effective leader?
There are many factors that make an effective leader. Depending on the role and the organisation I believe that effective leaders have a combination of the following factors:
Strategic vision and execution
Stakeholder management – able to manage staff, management, banks, directors and boards expectations
Able to work in a Performance culture
Able to manage and adapt to change
Leadership by example
What gets in the way of people being as effective as they could be as a leader?
Personal prejudices and pre-conceived ideas
Lack of trust in the team
Not engaging a broader circle of people [both within and external to company or department] to help resolve or consider alternative solutions to problems.
What would be your top tips for any aspiring leader?
Communication is critical and networking both internally and externally to your organisation. Knowing what is going on in your company and the wider business sector is essential.
Don’t be afraid to make the tough decisions and try and make them as early as possible – but always in an informed way.
Always separate short term trading and strategic direction – just because short term trading is not going well does not mean the strategy is wrong.
Anything else that you would like to add
If you are given the opportunity try and get an equity stake or interest in the business you are working for. Not only will you feel more engaged with the business but you will also potentially reap the rewards of the business as it grows and prospers – rewarding all of your hard work.
Be willing to relocate and move to take the roles needed to progress your career.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.