I definitely have never fitted that ‘traditional’ mould.
- Describe your role in one sentence As I’m lucky enough to wear both the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technology Officer hats, my job is to ensure our hotels have the best possible financial and IT structure in place to make our guests happy, continue delivering exceptional value to our investment partners, and help drive Cycas’s continued European expansion.
- Why has the finance team at Cycas expanded so dramatically over the last year? One of my main objectives when I joined in late 2019 was to build a best-in-class finance, technology and business intelligence platform for Cycas, and bring on board the best data analysis talent to maximise these new systems. In the last 15 months alone Cycas has opened or taken over 17 hotels, so one of the key changes we’ve made is to restructure the finance division into three work streams with one entirely focused on supporting our hotel operations teams. Our team has also expanded further as we’ve moved from relying on third-party service providers to insourcing all our accounting and compliance expertise.
- What are your proudest achievements after two years with Cycas? The last two years have been extremely intense, both in terms of continued company growth, but also as the Covid crisis forced all organisations to redefine the way they worked. Aside from building the finance and IT function from four people when I joined to an enormously talented team of 30 (and counting!), I’m proud of the role our department played in steering Cycas’s finances through the pandemic and instilling sound cash management practice throughout the business. But, as the number of brands we work with and the countries we operate in has continued to grow, another key highlight has been introducing our new industry-leading data analytics and business technology tools to ensure our partners have complete visibility of each hotel’s performance, across every department, at any given moment.
- What are the biggest financial challenges of operating across multiple countries? There are certainly cultural differences and language barriers that come into play when providing support to our operations teams. But I think ensuring compliance is the most challenging aspect of a truly pan-European platform from a finance perspective, especially when you’ve centralised the finance function environment. Every country has different rules on VAT and tax systems, different reporting and filing requirements, and different accounting regulations. Not only is it vital that your IT systems can support this, but you also need to ensure you have localised expertise without necessarily establishing a dedicated team in every country.
- What are you looking forward to in 2022 professionally? After our in-depth preparatory period, I expect Cycas’s finance function to be fully set up and in a very strong position by the end of the year. Both the SAP business platform roll out and insourcing process should be complete, allowing us to focus on our next project; to further integrate our internal finance and operations processes, ensuring our hotel teams can invest more of their time on delighting our guests and stakeholders. Whilst our IT systems will always require ongoing work to ensure we stay up to date with technological developments, I’m looking forward to seeing how greater automation helps our hotels thrive. Most of all, with our team’s expansion having coincided with the pandemic, I’m very excited about the prospect of getting the whole team together in one place once restrictions across all of Europe allow.
The Fun Five
- Where would we find you at the weekend In an ideal world you’d find me at the beach or on my surfboard embracing the Aloha spirit - being out on the water is something I find very balancing and relaxing. Outside the holidays, you’ll probably find me in the kitchen cooking, or listening to music.
- What’s your motto in life Be positive! I have always been a strong believer that a positive mindset inspires a positive outcome.
- What would the industry be most surprised to discover about you Whilst CFOs may have historically had a reputation for being conventional and cautious, I definitely have never fitted that ‘traditional’ mould. Having started DJing when I was 16, music remains a huge part of my life and I’ve got well over 1,000 records in my vinyl collection. Outside of meetings and calls I’m usually plugged into my headphones listening to electronic music, and outside of work I’ve even performed several DJ slots at Moxy Houthavens!
- What did you want to be when you were growing up As a young boy I wanted to grow up to be Boris Becker! Whilst my tennis skills were pretty decent, it soon became clear that they weren’t quite on a par with one of the greatest players of all times, and I redirected my energy from break points to breaking waves. My plan B was to become a policeman; a career path I still considered into my early twenties. Some people might say that becoming an auditor - which I did after university - is the closest thing to a being a detective that you can do in the finance world.
- What did you miss most during lockdown Definitely travelling. The saying that travelling is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer may sound a little cheesy, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Being able to surf without putting a 6mm wetsuit on makes me enormously happy. And the chance to visit more of my bucket list destinations in the Far East, or tick off additional US states on my journey to visiting all 52 states - a target I’m currently halfway towards - is something I just can’t wait to continue doing freely again.