Jon - Finding satisfaction in Finance at World Vision
My job at World Vision
As Head of Finance I manage three ‘sub-teams’ – finance, banking, and appeals. It was really amazing when I looked at the job description that it seemed to draw on every single strand of my experience to date!
I’m involved with the whole reach of financial activities – planning & budgeting, year end, audit, projects such as new systems development, and moving the team towards a business partnering model.
After a phD in Chemistry, I completed my CIMA training at a logistics company which gave me great all-round experience in auditing, treasury, financial and management accounts. A move into the healthcare sector enabled me to focus on research & development accounting, and here I looked at strategic five year planning to influence potential acquisition decisions.
When we bought a small company in the US I was made CFO and was tasked with integration, and the with a larger integration challenge when we got taken over by GE Healthcare! I moved from marketing finance into commercial roles focused on managing European sales effectively.
Move to World Vision
I became increasing uncomfortable with my employer's way of doing finance, focused solely on managing the bottom line. I felt that we were missing out on some of the people aspects and that I was just flogging myself for someone else’s return. I just didn’t feel it was a good use of my time.
I’d been doing some voluntary work in my spare time with a friend making small business investments in Kosovo and at a micro-enterprise conference in Romania I met a few people from World Vision. It was a whole new world to me and challenged me to consider whether I could use my finance skills for something much more kingdom focused and something that has a longer lasting impact on poor people rather than helping rich institutions have a better share price. It was a real conviction in terms of ‘what am I using my time for and how can I make the world a better place through what I do?'
The best things about my job are variety and the challenge of managing the great people who work here!
The culture is different here – just as much focus on looking after the money well, but a more consensual approach with less ‘command and control’. People’s feelings are taken into account too which can mean decisions take longer, but overall it is a good thing.
I am enjoying every minute of it, and find it very refreshing. The challenge has been to ensure that I hold onto ideas for improvements and make enough time to reflect on how to implement these in the midst of the busyness of life at World Vision! We now have an Innovation Manager so that is a clear sign that the organisation is keen to implement people's new ideas and improvements. There is much more a sense of being able to be imaginative and to change and improve things – you can make ideas stick and you can really bring your whole self to work which makes a real difference.
Obviously you do get things that aren’t quite perfect. Even though World Vision in the UK is a fairly small organisation, because you are part of World Vision globally it’s hard to get a sense of the whole vast partnership, and something that I find quite hard to penetrate. It would be good to know more because you hear about partnership initiatives but you don’t really understand what they mean so that for me is a key thing that I need to learn more about.
Also, because there’s so much focus on our development work around the world, you don’t always get the immediate response to finance queries that I’m used to elsewhere. So it is getting used to a different way and getting used to a different place in the pecking order really. People really want to drive the ministry forward and finance is obviously a part of it but finance is not the be all and end all, the focus is on the longterm positive impact on children who are living in the world's hardes places.
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