For quite some time now Azon have proudly assisted in enhancing the career journeys of thousands of accounting and finance job-seekers. A common query that most have is for insights into the mentality, work habits and career pathways of some of the most inspirational and influential finance leaders in the industry.
And now, we have the answers! Introducing our new Azon Finance Leader Series, a fortnightly blog of interviews with multiple finance leaders across the country. For the first time, any ambitious, up-and-coming or even experienced finance professionals can get an insight into what makes these expert finance leaders tick, and can learn how to emulate their successful careers.
First up: Eoin Maunsell.
Eoin studied Law & Accounting in UL, and completed a Masters in Accountancy in Smurfit Business School, before qualifying with KPMG in 2008. Post qualification, Eoin pursued roles which developed his ambitions as a senior Commercial Finance leader. Eoin is currently the CFO of Omnicom Media Group Ireland.
Globally, Omnicom is the largest advertising network in the world. OmnicomMediaGroup Ireland plans and buys advertising across offline and online channels, as well as providing media consultancy services to global and indigenous brands, including Renault, Volkswagen, Virgin Media, Warner Brothers and VHI.
Q. Give a quick overview of your career to date:
I started out with a typical Big 4 audit career, a route I would encourage for the discipline and responsibility it instills early in your career, as well as the exposure to top companies and senior finance professionals. From then, I spent 5 years working for Paddy Power at an exciting stage of their growth. In PP I learned the need for accountants to look up from the page, develop a commercial outlook and contribute as business partners and leaders. I now lead the Finance and Shared Services function for OmnicomMediaGroup, one of the countries largest media agencies.
Q. What was your first job (ever)?
When I was 15, I had a job stacking shelves in the local toy shop at home in Tralee on £2.50 an hour. I still can’t see Teletubbies without getting flashbacks of trying to keep the toys on the shelves at Christmas at the height of their popularity.
Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?
In Paddy Power, I played a central role as part of a small team in evolving Finance from a traditional support division into an empowered business partner with a key role in driving commercial plans and targets, and had a seat and voice at the table when real strategic decisions were made.
Q. How do you define success?
CFO’s are successful when company’s have clarity of vision and understanding in where the company is going and how it is getting there. Businesses run smoother when targets are set, measured, communicated and bought into. When all business units know the target, what they need to do to get there, and how they are tracking, the Finance function is performing at a high level.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When I was younger, I wanted every piece of work I completed to be 100% perfect. An old boss told me that “perfect is the enemy of excellent”, and I preach that now. In most cases, work needs to be as good as it needs to be to achieve its aim. Getting more work done excellently, is better than getting one thing done perfectly. As we juggle bigger workloads, its a required lesson.
Q. What advice would you give to young accountants?
Don’t be afraid of non-linear career paths. Once you are a couple of years qualified, it wont hurt your development to move out of Finance roles. Rather than trying to move up the levels in the Finance department, look more broadly for jobs that challenge you to think and advise commercially, roles that take you out of the comfort zone of your education. Take on roles in strategy, data analytics or general management, and ultimately if you come back to Finance, you’ll come back a more rounded, capable contributor than when you left.
Q. Where do you see the biggest change in Finance in the coming years?
As automation takes an increasing role in “traditional” accounting activities, the profession needs to continue to evolve as one which fosters and educates strategic thinkers and commercially savvy leaders. Traditional Finance KPI’s need to better integrate with the data analytics that is driving day to day operations.
Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?
People are motivated by challenge and new experiences. We look to rotate certain tasks between team members on a regular basis, keeping roles fresh and promoting fresh thinking on our ways of working.
Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for a day, who would it be and why?
Presently, even though he is facing some challenges, I think for one day, it would be very exciting to be Elon Musk, to witness how he is pushing boundaries across different industries, and see how he juggles the different challenges this must throw up each and every day.
Q. Favourite Business book?
Legacy by James Kerr.
Q. How do you relax?
I’ll watch any sport, whether live or on TV. My real passions are Kerry Football, Munster and Ireland Rugby. I’m a big Man Utd fan as well, but that’s a hard watch at the moment.
Q. What’s your motto?
In Paddy Power, the CEO Patrick Kennedy would say “you can only dance with the girls in the room”. I love the pure Irishness of the saying, but also the simple message that we need to consider all factors at play in defining success at the outset of projects. Nothing is more demotivating than ill-considered, overly ambitious targets which are not supported with required resources. We work with the budgets and technology and know-how we have and set targets which are ambitious within these parameters.