David Webster

David is a Finance Director who has achieved an enormous amount in his career to date. A global commendation for the last stage of his CIMA qualification set a platform for his professional career at Asahi, ISG plc and Marks and Spencer.

February 3, 2021
Feb 3, 2021
CFO Interviews

David is a Finance Director who has achieved an enormous amount in his career to date. A global commendation for the last stage of his CIMA qualification set a platform for his professional career at Asahi, ISG  plc and Marks and Spencer. In 2020, he joined Horizon Platforms in Wakefield –  an employee owned SME with huge ambitions.

After graduating from Durham University with a degree in Natural Sciences, David began his career with Telefonica UK on their graduate scheme, before moving to Virgin Media to lead the FP&A for Virgin Media’s £0.6bn turnover mobile division. From here, David moved into the FMCG industry, initially as FP&A Manager for Asahi UK, before progressing to Financial Controller and then Head of Finance – Planning & Control.  To date, David’s career had been based in London and the home counties, however, he decided, alongside his wife Becca, to relocate back to Yorkshire, where he had a few shorter assignments with ISG plc and Marks and Spencer plc before obtaining the role of Finance Director with Horizon Platforms.  David also has recently begun expanding his non-executive experience, as a Non-Executive Trustee Director of The Mast Academy Trust.

What made you decide to choose a career in finance?  

I was a bit unsure about my career path at first, considering law, consulting, and even being a professional football referee.  However, I’d always enjoyed and excelled at maths. When I was about 5 years old, one of my favourite activities was doing arithmetic with my Grandad John!  A rather unusual pastime for a young child, but nevertheless it set me up well, and I went on to do maths and further maths at A Level, obtaining top marks in both.  So, at University, still unsure of career, I just discussed with those in years above me, and CIMA and finance were mentioned. I explored it further, and thought it spoke well to my inquisitive nature and mathematical aptitude. And from then on, I’ve never looked back!

How did you find looking for a new job in the first lockdown?

It was very strange, I found a reasonable amount of demand for interim roles, which is why I pursued that avenue while keeping an eye open for the right permanent role. One thing I was keen not to do was jump at the first role, which could have very easily happened given the severe demand vs supply overload of candidates vs roles!  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in an interim role at Marks and Spencer, and the team there are great, but when the opportunity with Horizon came up, I knew it was the one I was waiting for.

What have been some of the biggest challenges and successes in your career so far?

A challenge for all finance individuals is ensuring liquidity of their business, so the biggest challenge I have probably faced was when a major customer went into administration owing several million pounds while I was Financial Controller at Asahi.  That said, it was also probably one of my biggest successes as well, as I had to deal with something I’d never seen before (having been in B2C businesses previously), so learnt an immense amount from the FD and MD on handling this situation, and following working closely with the FD of the customer, successfully avoided any loss to Asahi.

What advice would you give to young accountants starting out their career?

Set yourselves timebound goals, and don’t be afraid to fail.  By this I mean that everyone has strengths and weaknesses; it is fine to have weaknesses providing they don’t become a threat.  Focus on strengths, minimise  threats and learn from mistakes to work towards your goals.  A lot of people may say they want to get a certain job, but making that timebound, and understanding what exactly is needed for you to get that position is what will set you apart.

What do you enjoy most about the job you do?

I enjoy the variety of the role and the speed of change.  Whilst at Telefonica UK, I had a placement at Tesco Mobile, and I enjoyed how dynamic and entrepreneurial the business was.  Horizon has very similar attributes, and from my experience, this is often a real driver of business success, which is one of the things that really excites me about Horizon.  As an employee owned business there is a real atmosphere of collaboration and collective success and this makes it a great place to work culturally as well.

What would people you work with be surprised to know about you?  

I’ve tried my hand at a few sports over the years including playing American Football and Rugby, but perhaps one thing people would be surprised at, is that I used to be a competitive cheerleader!  Unlike the common perception of pompoms on  a sports field, competitive cheerleading is more akin to acro-gymnastics, and I competed at the European Championships with Leeds based Aviator Allstars some time ago!

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