Liz Kaplan

From manufacturing, distribution, direct sales to FMCG and now house building, Liz Kaplan has done it all.

Jan 28, 2021
Jan 26, 2021
Women in Finance

Introduction

Liz has been Head of Finance at Ilke Homes since January 2020. We have known her for many years and have been privileged to have placed her in her previous role and to recruit for her in her current role.

As well as working in many roles across Yorkshire, Liz also enjoyed a 10 year stint working in the US. She has worked in senior finance roles in manufacturing, distribution, direct sales, FMCG and now house building and construction and the common theme has always been fast growth. Having been involved in privately owned start-ups in both the US and the UK, Liz has had a unique experience which has included a lot of operational oversight as well as financial.

Liz is married to “The Cheesecake Guy” (making the best cheesecakes outside the States) and lives in York with her 2 dogs. The Cheesecake Guy will be opening the first specialist cheesecake shop in York soon selling baked cheesecakes and bagels with cream cheese. Liz is determined to stay behind the scenes but the shop will have the most detailed set of management accounts in York!

Liz has been a trustee at Kyra Women’s Project in York since January 2020, and is currently taking on the role of Treasurer. Kyra helps local women make positive change in their lives through a range of courses, therapies, life skills and events.

What made you decide to choose a career in finance?

Haha! Genuinely, when I graduated with a degree in Accounting & Finance, if anyone asked what I wanted to do my answer was always ‘anything except accounting’! My first job was at Dealwise in Leeds and was in administration, but I learnt something about myself which I have been reminded of many times since; I need to work with numbers or my head stops working! So I started in Purchase Ledger at Outside the Box in Headingley and have done just about all accounting related jobs since.

Another thing I have learned about myself, is that I love to learn new things, and accountancy is a transferrable skill. So whether you are working in manufacturing or FMCG or whatever else, a debit is a debit and a credit is a credit. Once you learn the nuances of each industry you can apply what you know anywhere.

What challenges do you think that women specifically face in senior leadership roles?

Themselves. While I don’t think that we have totally conquered sexism in the workplace yet, I think women are much more likely to question their own ability, and whether or not they deserve or are ready for a seat at the table than men are. When I first learned the term ‘imposter syndrome’ I was thrilled that it had a name! This is one of the reasons I got involved with Kyra – anything to do with women empowering women can only be a good thing.

Women have to be a little bit tougher too, as we generally aren’t expected to make the hard decisions even if we’re already in a senior position.

What do you think makes a successful leader and in particular women leaders?

Communication. I have worked in so many places where the biggest problem people have is communication. Giving good feedback & good clear direction so everyone in the business is working towards the same goals.

Being able to admit when you’re wrong and course correct quickly. I have the biggest admiration for people I have worked for who have done this openly.

Remembering all the team are individuals, with different lives & things going on in and outside work. Generally, if you are flexible with people and don’t take advantage, you get more back in return.

If you could tell your younger self one thing you know about business now what would it be?

Ask even more questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the silly questions. Not only are you expanding your own understanding, but you might just help someone find a new way to do something.

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