Mar 1, 2024
CFO Interviews
CFO Network

Quick Questions with our Finance Director, Claire Screeton

Mar 1, 2024
CFO Interviews

Quick Questions with our Finance Director, Claire Screeton

Claire Screeton has been with Pratap Partnership since 2022 in a newly created position as our Interim Finance Director on a part-time basis, and recently joined permanently. Claire guided the business through the employee-ownership trust transaction at the end of last year, and is a valuable member of the team.

What attracted you to the opportunity to work at Pratap Partnership?

Pratap Partnership is a great business, a team of experienced recruiters with a clear vision and goals. I love to work with businesses where there is a lot of energy and drive to succeed both for themselves and their clients. I began working with Pratap Partnership in 2022 providing portfolio FD services, with them being one of several clients I was working with. As the role has evolved over the last 18 months, I am now an employee, and my time commitment continues to increase in line with the growth the company has continued to experience. One thing that I really enjoy is that whilst I am the FD, my role is so much more, I take ownership of all support areas and there is always lots going on which keeps my role varied and interesting. I have introduced lots of new analysis and data focus to the business, and I really feel I’m making a difference.

What was your route to FD and would you recommend that route to others starting out?

My career right from the start has been slightly different from the norm. Rather than university I started my career straight after my A Levels and did the AAT qualification and then ICAEW qualification whilst working in audit for one of the big 4 accountancy firms. Whilst working in practice wasn’t for me in the long term, it gave me a really good foundation. I had exposure to a large variety of clients in terms of industry, size, and ownership as well as a really good technical grounding.

When I left practice, I moved to a large corporate business where I had four different roles in the five years I was there which gave me a huge amount of experience in both technical and commercial finance. I took the role of Financial Controller for a PE-backed financial services business which whilst on a fast growth plan was still relatively new. At the time it seemed a risk moving from a large Corporate business leaving all the benefits and security that come with it, but it was the best decision I could have made. The business continued to grow as did my role, I became Director of Finance and we had two changes of ownership in the time I was there, it was a very exciting and rewarding place to work.

In 2012 I had my first child and I decided that it was time to put my family first and took a bit of time out to focus on my children, over the years that followed I did various part-time and short-term interim FD roles which is how I ended up working at Pratap Partnership.

I would recommend the route I took as it has certainly worked for me, but more importantly, I think the more varied experience you can you get at the start of your career the better. Many roles can take you down a route as either a technical accountant or a commercial accountant, and be either in the detail or high level,  but as an FD, particularly in SMEs with smaller teams you really need to be able to be all things to all people and I think my background has benefited me greatly. I can be reconciling data in Excel in the morning and in a strategic board meeting in the afternoon and I need to have the ability to adapt to all situations.

As a part-time Finance Director with a young family, what’s the best prioritising/multi-tasking tip you would give?

Time management, flexibility, and organisation (I have a lot of to-do lists!) are the key for me.  I don’t tend to follow the typical 9-5 working hours but instead work around what fits for both myself, my family, and my work. Certain tasks or meetings need to be done within working hours and so these are prioritised, other work that I just need to get completed can be done at any time so I can often be found sat at my desk on a weekend, on an evening or early mornings, which to some might not sound great, but for me, it works! It means I can pick my boys up from school, get them to their sports clubs, walk the dog, get a gym class in, and even meet a friend for coffee. Working part-time means my colleagues don’t expect me to be around all the time but I am generally always able to take calls or deal with any urgent matters that arise during the standard working week so the flexibility that works for me also works for the business.

What keeps you busy out of work?

As mentioned above my family are my main priority. I have two boys aged 10 and 11 who are sport-mad, particularly football so between the two of us, myself and my husband spend a lot of time getting them to various training sessions and watching their matches, as well as taking them to watch as many Leeds United home matches as they can get to. We also have a labrador dog, Scooby who has endless energy and needs lots of walking.  In the school holidays, we try and get away as much as possible, our favourites so far have been Sri Lanka and the Maldives, we love Portugal in the summer and have recently been on our first ( won’t be our last) family ski trip. I love to socialise with friends and fitness is really important to me, I try and get to the gym 4-5 times a week and have recently got back into running as I have been training for a hyrox competition. Gym time is time for myself, helps to clear my head, and keeps me focused and in control of my busy life.

We asked for Partner, Nik Pratap's perspective on Claire being part of our business:

How has having Claire as a Finance Director impacted Pratap Partnership?

We have seen the growth and success of so many SMEs accelerate after they have recruited their first Finance Director. Our experience has been no different – here are my top 5 benefits that any SME can enjoy from having a Finance Director in place:

  1. Bringing data and facts to planning and decision-making – Claire's data and analysis gives us better management information to support daily decisions.
  2. Making simple but effective cost-savings – we've been able to review suppliers, contracts and processes.
  3. Looking further into the future – moving away from the “current quarter” mentality and planning value creation for the long term.
  4. Helping me sleep at night – making plans to de-risk the business and keeping the important issues of working capital and tax under control.
  5. Valuable board member – having a director like Claire who knows every number in the business, and understands the business, the people, and the market creates a stronger board, better decisions and stronger governance.
Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Joe Ingham
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Gemma Hutchinson
Jess Lister
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Claire Screeton
Claire Screeton
Euan Begbie
Euan Begbie
Marie Carroll
Marie Carroll
Lucy Miles
Nicola Beach

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