In the latest “Meet the Team” blog, we caught up with Nicky Richardson, Starrett UK’s new Financial Director.
Nicky, tell us a bit about yourself.
I was brought up in the Scottish Borders on my dad’s farm at Scott’s View, Bemersyde. After completing my education at Earlston High School, I went to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen to study a BA (Hons.) in Accounting and Finance. During my time at university, I did a year’s work placement in New York, working for an import/export company called Expeditors. Upon graduation I started working in Edinburgh and completed my Chartered Accountancy training while working for the investment management company, Baillie Gifford.
In 2014 my husband and I moved back to the Borders and now live on my grandparent’s farm near Smailholm. The biggest draw for me to return to the Borders was getting back into my hobby of horse riding. Having competed ponies continuously as a child and up until university, the draw to get back out competing and with my own horse was huge!
When I am not at work or on the horse, you’ll most likely find me outside either walking the dog, helping on the farm or watching motorsport with my family. I really enjoy cooking and a glass (or two) of a good red wine!
You’re new to the Starrett team, when did you start and why did you want to work for the company?
I joined Starrett at the end of February so am still very new into my role. Getting the opportunity to work for a Borders business that is well established, yet still can grow is really very exciting. I remember having a school visit to the site when I was younger, with the company being viewed as a great asset to the Borders for many years. It’s now a real privilege to be part of that team.
Can you tell us a little about your career background and journey into this role?
Having qualified with Bailie Gifford in a general finance role, I moved into the specialist field of personal and corporate taxes - within UK, USA and European companies and individuals - whilst at Bailie Gifford and with the US investment manager, BlackRock. However, this was never my passion and as someone who sees the finance function as a supportive and complementary function to any business, I decided to change job and joined the Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA), as its Finance Manager in September 2014.
SBHA enabled me to learn and grow in many different spheres, especially being a line manager for the first time and working with the Association’s Board and sub-committees on regulatory and strategic decisions.
When the role of Group Finance Manager at QubeGB - a service provider for field engineering in the telecoms industry - became available, I felt the need to take on that new opportunity. QubeGB was again a different type of company, having come through some high growth years and working for some of the UK’s biggest businesses, including TalkTalk, BT and Sky etc. While at QubeGB, the role was able to further develop my commercial and strategic aptitude. I worked alongside some very strong and dynamic leaders, who developed me and encouraged my growth, which was one of the main reasons I looked to move into the Financial Directorship role at Starrett, Jedburgh.
Tell us about your job as Financial Director (FD) – what does a typical day involve?
I have joined Starrett at quite an interesting time with Coronavirus being the overriding challenge for our business and every one of our employees, therefore I don’t think there has been such a thing as a typical day.
Every day we have senior management meetings to discuss the on-going situation and to react timely to any announcements from our Government, plus the other Starrett group companies.
The Finance team still have month end accounts to produce, plus March quarter end figures for our Corporate team in Athol, Massachusetts. Every quarter the global results are submitted to the US, so they can file these with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of our NYSE listing regulatory reporting requirements.
The Senior Management team is currently working on the collation of the annual budget for the coming financial year which starts on 1 July. This process allows us to analyse what sales and expenses we expect to see for the coming year, and with the current global uncertainty this year’s process is quite a challenge.
The IT function has been working hard behind the scenes on upgrading servers, operating systems and trying to get as many of our employees working remotely as possible, enabling the business to continue working throughout the lockdown.
Meanwhile the Procurement team have been working tirelessly with our intercompany divisions, and external vendors, to control all incoming supplies to ensure we continue to get the goods we need for us and our customers.
What do you love about your role?
Working as part of a team to support our business, whether that’s working with the senior management team to keep our employees safe or working as part of the finance department to produce our annual budget. Everything I am involved in is a supporting role to the company and group.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Many challenges at the moment however these are teaching me a lot about the company, my new teammates and the wider Starrett business. The biggest challenge is helping to find the right course of action for us at this point in time.
Why do you love working for Starrett?
The people, learning something new every day and being part of a business based in the Borders, yet with a global presence.
Can you tell us more about the financial team you manage?
The team consists of four functions – IT, Procurement, Management accounting and Financial accounting. The team has a great breadth of knowledge and vast experience, so are really helping me get up to speed.
What are your goals for the future?
To ensure we keep driving our business forward, providing a profitable business which can continue to support all its employees and our wider community. The global economy is changing daily and as the FD I need to ensure the business is able to react positively to whatever challenges or opportunities are on the horizon.