What if there was another career choice when you leave Practice?
At Whitbread we have some great brands in our portfolio including Premier Inn, Hub, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre. These are hugely successful because of our people; we put the customer at the heart of everything we do and drive year-on-year growth by offering the best service supported by the best processes.
This means our Finance team offers the best commercial support through our Finance Business Partners, the best accounting through our Financial Accountants and both the business and finance are supported by our Financial Controls, Risk and Process Improvement team. This is a growing area that offers 2nd line support working with the business on financial and operational processes and controls across the estate.
It’s a fabulous opportunity to utilise your technical accounting knowledge with a commercial slant and could offer another option when looking to make that move from Practice into Industry. Alternatively, you may have already made that move and are now looking for a new challenge to broaden your knowledge, experience and skills as your career develops. We have spent some time with Hannah Schnadt our Financial Controller – Risk, Controls and Compliance, who has been with Whitbread for 2 years having joined from PwC. She is one of a number of ACAs who have joined Whitbread in the risk and controls environment in the last 5 years as the business helps develop its future leaders.
Tell us more about the Financial Controls team and its place within the Whitbread’s finance team…
“The Financial controls team’s core principle is to support the business in achieving its objectives, driving process improvement to develop a ‘best in class’ control environment. Our primary focus is working with the Finance teams on the key Finance processes and controls but we also work with senior stakeholders in Property, Procurement, HR, IT and Operations. Working on a broad range of processes across the business means each day brings a different challenge!”
What attracted you to join Whitbread and specifically the Controls team?
“Whitbread is a really exciting company providing plenty of opportunity for career progression and growth; a FTSE 100 in a period of substantial innovation and ambitious UK and international growth plans. Having trained at PwC with 8 years of experience working with a large client base ranging from SMEs to FTSE 100 companies, I wanted to move into industry into a role where I could use my understanding of finance concepts, controls and operational improvement to work closely with stakeholders across the business. This role has allowed me to work with these stakeholders to identify appropriate solutions to ensure a strong control environment whist improving operational processes."
“Moving into new markets such as Germany also presents opportunities to design new processes and to be involved in embedding a strong control environment at the outset of change projects.”
What could a role in your team offer to potential candidates?
“A role in my team offers an opportunity to utilise the core finance toolkit provided by gaining the ACA and developing this in a fast-paced business environment engaging with a wide range of stakeholders across the business developing a fantastic network. Incorporating process improvement into everything we do is rewarding as the benefits are tangible and the value appreciated by the business."
How is this role, within Whitbread, helping you meet your longer-term career ambitions/goals?
“Whitbread is providing me with the support network and tools with which to progress and opportunities to demonstrate a value-added contribution whilst working across all areas of the business.
“I am leading the financial control agenda and creating a best in practice control environment whilst optimising business performance which has been a key goal for me. Having the right team around me is a pivotal part of this process. We need people who have strong technical knowledge alongside the ability to communicate with stakeholders to help them understand the value of processes and controls.
“Once this has been achieved, I will leave a team capable of driving further process improvement and driving the importance of controls at which point I will look for the next challenge to gain experience and broaden my skill set to set me up for a future leadership role at Whitbread."
Do you feel confident you will have the opportunity to progress into other parts of finance?
“Definitely, I interact with other parts of finance on a daily basis getting a really good insight into the processes which has allowed me to develop a strong knowledge base from which I can progress."
You are 2 years into your time with Whitbread, how would you sum up your experience so far?
“Looking back, it has been an action-packed couple of years; we have successfully insourced our shared service centre, implemented a new Finance system, incorporated transactional processing and accounting for Germany into standard Whitbread processes, improved a significant number of processes and increased the robustness of controls at support centre and sites. It has far exceeded any initial expectation when taking on this role and I would highly recommend gaining experience in a team like this!”
To apply for the role of Financial Controls Manager – Risk & Process Improvement, click here…