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A Q&A with our Finance Director Carolyn

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A Q&A with our Finance Director

Carolyn, a Chartered Management Accountant, comes with a wealth of experience in finance and management, having worked for an array of construction companies and developers, such as McCarthy Stone, Harron Homes and Taylor Wimpey.

We wanted to get to know Carolyn a little bit better, so caught up with her over a nice cuppa. So sit back, relax, and get to know our new Finance Director.

Q) Did you always know you wanted to be in the finance/housebuilding industry?

A) No, I actually went into the medical field and was doing therapeutic radiography at a medical school in However, about a year into it I decided it wasn’t for me, as I found it hard not to take the emotional side of it home with me every night. It was actually my superintendent at that school that suggested a role in finance, and I followed her advice and got my first financial job as a Sales Ledger Clerk for Timpson’s (shoe repair). That was my first ever role and I literally started from the bottom. I was there for about four years and was at the stage of my career when I needed to decide which direction to go in, and I really liked the sound of construction/housebuilding. I then made the move into construction, taking on the role of Management Accountant at McCarthy Stone, who are a retirement property developer.

Q) Tell us a little bit about your career so far?

A) I was at McCarthy Stone for around four years, and I left to move over to Ireland with my husband who was seconded out there. I lived in Dublin and studied Spanish Literature and Sociology at Trinity College whilst I was there. When I returned to the UK, I got asked back to McCarthy Stone to be a part of their senior management team, setting up a new region for them in North London. In four years, I helped take the business from nothing to about £100million turnover, it was fantastic. I then moved back north and worked for Harron Homes, who were taking their Yorkshire business and expanding into the Midlands and Northwest. I set up their Northwest finance function and I was there for around a year. I then spent the next four years or so at Taylor Wimpey in Manchester. Unfortunately, the big property crash happened, and I was made redundant. I took a bit of time out, did some studying and travelling, then finished my professional exams and became ACMA in 2013. I initially took a couple of interim roles, before getting back into construction. At the beginning of last year, I got back into housebuilding, working for the Emmerson Group as FD of their Jones Homes division; I also became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA). And then that brings me to today!

Q) What has been your career highlight so far?

A) I absolutely loved setting up the North London region for McCarthy Stone. It was my first senior management team role, and I got to spend time with lots of different departments. I was with the land team sourcing land, spent time with the commercial team going out to tender, I went to planning meetings with the technical team; I really got to learn the businesses right the way through. This job effectively gave me all the experience and equipped me for everything that came to follow.

Q) Why did you move to Stonebridge?

A) I love the attitude everyone at Stonebridge has and I was very impressed by the company’s sustainable plans for the future. I knew pretty quickly that it was something I wanted to be a part of, and I’m so glad I decided to make the move to Stonebridge. That said, I initially declined to pursue the role as I felt the commute would be too much every day, however the company’s embedded hybrid working scheme meant that I was able to accept and I can work both remotely, and in the office. Stonebridge offers the best of both worlds: within the national housebuilding industry, the company is relatively small, yet it is very ambitious; and for the last 12 years it has enjoyed a unique partnership with Henry Boot Ltd, a significant construction and property management company operating in the UK since 1886. At Stonebridge, we have the opportunity to add value, influence decisions and have our voice heard.

Q) What would you say to somebody wanting to get into the finance and/or construction/housebuilding industry?

A) I’d say just do it! If you’ve got a logical brain that can deal with numbers (you don’t actually need to be good at maths), then there are so many roles within finance. I started right at the bottom with no experience. Your own ambition, drive and talent can take you as far as you’d like to go in finance. And there are so many different directions you can take too. In terms of construction and housebuilding, again, I think there are so many different career paths you can take which is amazing. Whether you go down the commercial route, sales, marketing, construction, the housebuilding sector covers the lot. And one thing I always say is everybody will always need homes, so there will always be a need for new houses!

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