Here, in the latest article from the new Barden & Chartered Accountants Ireland Career Guide 2023, Andrew Keating, CFO at Musgrave Group, looks back at his career progression and tells us the most important lessons he has learned along the way.
Tell us about your current role? What does it involve?
I was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer of Musgrave Group earlier this year. We operate 12 food and beverage brands, including SuperValu, Centra, Donnybrook Fair and Frank & Honest coffee, and feed one-in-three people on the island of Ireland every day. Through our partnership with entrepreneurial independent retailers, Musgrave Group is also the largest private sector employer in Ireland with over 40,000 colleagues.
My role involves partnering with our CEO, executive colleagues, and our Board of Directors to develop and execute Musgrave Group’s business strategy in line with our purpose: “Growing Good Business”. In addition, I lead, motivate, and develop our finance team— and, very importantly, I aim to act as a role model for our values across the wider organisation.
You have had a highly successful career. What do you attribute this to?
I believe my career progression to date has been as a consequence of the value and leadership I have brought to the organisations I have worked with, for my colleagues, customers, and wider stakeholders. Of course, strong and relevant technical skills are important, but I have also found that, as my career has progressed, these skills have really just become the “minimum ticket to the game”.
Equally important for me has been my investment in developing my leadership competencies in areas such as impact and influence, commercial focus, change management and inspiring people. Developing these competencies to a decent level takes time, a lot of practice and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.
It’s important, therefore, to start your journey as early as possible. I would encourage ambitious Chartered Accountants to compare the amount of time they have invested in their technical skills (through school, third level, if relevant, professional exams, CPD, etc.) with the amount of time and energy they have invested in developing and nurturing their leadership competencies.
What was the best career advice you ever received and why?
One piece of career advice that really inspires me is to bring your whole self to work every day. This contributes strongly to a trusting, inclusive and authentic environment. So much of the value we bring to our organisations comes through our collaboration with other people—colleagues, customers, and wider stakeholders. The more effective these relationships, the more valuable our contribution to the organisation will be, and the more successful our own careers.
What do you look for yourself when you are hiring?
When hiring new colleagues, I’m drawn to individuals who, I believe, could have a long-term career with our company. I don’t tend to simply recruit for a particular vacancy or role. Once I have determined that the individual can do the job on offer from a technical perspective, my priority is to understand their competencies and values.
I want to understand where they are on their journey in terms of developing an authentic leadership style, how they might contribute to an inclusive team environment, how they will collaborate with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders, and if their values are consistent both with the values of the organisation and my own.