Telling the truth about SME life today

The “financial entrepreneur” with Lotus Cars, Wayra and Brightpearl on his CV

Brought in by to help with developing a growth strategy, Chapman has honed his experience across a variety of sectors.

(1) Where has your career taken you, and what kind of roles have you held

I started my career with the choice of going into practice or working in industry, without going on to study for a degree. I had a few options with local professional firms, but then a job offer came out of nowhere as a trainee accountant at Lotus Cars. The perceived glamour won me over quickly and Ive remained in the industry ever since. A good seven years at Lotus saw me through most of my early training where I gained my ACCA qualification, before moving into the rail industry where I helped the then Anglia Railways go through privatisation. 

In the late 1990s, I was attracted by the technology boom, moved to Cambridge and joined a rapidly growing software business, who soon after, were sold to General Electric. Life as part of one of the worlds biggest companies had a lot going for it but, for me, too much against it. I moved to an expanding BPO business which we grew strongly by acquisition and then exited to another large US corporate. 

Wanting to then get back to something smaller the next move saw me working alongside Doug Richard, an ex-BBC Dragon and Charles Cotton, a serial entrepreneur, building a global database of VC-backed technology businesses. These were great times in a very different, very entrepreneurial environment that heavily influenced the rest of my career. Having ticked most of the usual boxes a CFO might, I decided to go on my own and build My Business FD, a new kind of professional firm providing senior financial expertise to growing businesses.

(2) What kind of business growth strategies have you been part of

Ive been lucky enough to have been involved with a wide range of businesses during my earlier career that were operating in many sectors. Working across international boundaries, Ive been involved with fast growth across tech, rail franchising, motor manufacturing, consulting, software, business process outsourcing, giving me exposure to activities such as mergers and acquisitions, fundraising, disposals, restructuring, exits and IPOs. Our current My Business FD client base is diverse, but most businesses we are helping have aspirations for strong growth. So devising a funding strategy and securing investment, acquiring complimentary technologies or businesses, and listing on public markets are often a key element of those plans.

(3) How did the new role with come about

I knew one of the directors, Arran Stewart, from a few years ago when I had helped him with an earlier venture. He approached me and sold me the story of why theyve been able to gain so much traction so quickly, where they wanted to take the business and that they needed help in gearing up for that next phase of growth.

 (4) What will your specific duties be

My main role is in shaping the business for growth. That means looking at every aspect of the back end of the organisation and making sure that it can scale at the same pace as the user growth and the front end and that our processes, systems, controls and reporting are fit for purpose. I will also be ensuring that we have the right financing strategy in place to underpin that expansion.

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(5) What makes it an interim role

The nature of the above is relatively short term, in that it is a peak of activity that, once completed, will then evolve into a more “steady state” senior finance role. Weve left our plans open so we can define that role when we get there, whether it’s full or part time and who might fill those shoes on a longer term basis.

(6) In what ways does the proposition excite you

I get to see a large number of businesses and it isnt very often that you come across a relatively simple idea that nobody has done before. is exactly that; we gather up jobs from all over the web and we match your CV to them so you dont have to. Whether it’s with the countrys biggest job board or whether it’s on page 26 of a Google search, well probably have it and if it matches your experience then well tell you about it. 

Job seekers are really catching on in a big way and we have 2 million users already, growing at an extremely exciting rate. There is a definite international opportunity and the team have many ideas to generate other unique revenue streams, so I think the future is going to be pretty exciting

(7) Please tell us more about My Business FD?

We specialise in placing full or part time FDs/CFOs into growing businesses, whether it’s on a full time, retained search basis, or a contract role of a day a week. We have great flexibility across the team and an extensive UK wide network of peers and similarly experienced senior finance professionals to draw upon. 

We also provide interim FD and CFO support for M&A transactions, fundraise projects, exit planning, IPO preparation, restructuring and other similar activities, sometimes where the existing FD hasnt got sufficient bandwidth, or has a skills gap. If it’s senior finance skills you need, then we can help.

(8) How has the role of an FD/CFO changed in recent years, and what can you put this down to

The economic environment since 2007/8 has forced companies to change the way they view their CFO and changed the way the CFO works within a business. The role has had to manage massive risk concerns and issues from stakeholders at times of great uncertainty, been even more vigilant around cash and working capital requirements, had to support the business to develop growth strategies and become a more relied upon member of the board; one whose involvement is now essential in all commercial activities. 

The emergence of new digital technologies and the power of mobile devices has also had an influence on the CFO, having to understand new ways of leveraging big data, new software models, analytics and business intelligence capabilities, remote working and immediacy demands.



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