Name: Mammen Eapen
Time with company: Five and a half years
Education: Member, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Bachelor of Commerce, Madras, India.
Company headquarters: Cambridge, U.K.
Number of countries: U.K., U.S.
Number of employees total: 330
Number of the CFO's direct reports: 3
1. Tell us where you started in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today.
I started as a trainee accountant with Ernst & Young in their London office in the early 1980s. I then spent a couple of years with them in Toronto, Canada, before working in the financial services sector in Australia. In 2000, I moved to Singapore as Asiawide CFO for Arthur D. Little, a global management consulting firm. This was my first experience with working in a fee for service environment. Arthur D. Little is a sister company of Cambridge Consultants and this was the connection which finally lead me to the CFO role at Cambridge Consultants in the U.K.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
When I worked in Australia, I worked for a self-made individual who showed that common sense and integrity go a long way in ensuring that you do your job well. Needless to say, my current boss is nothing less than inspirational!
3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?
All companies, listed and private, are under constant pressure to show short-term results. The biggest challenge is for the CFO to ensure that long-term interests which ensure the company's sustainable growth are not compromised.
4. What is a good day at work like for you?
I always get a sense of satisfaction from meeting deadlines. It is also a great feeling to come out of a difficult meeting (particularly Board meetings!) with the relieved feeling that sanity has prevailed.
5. How would you characterize your management style?
I am not hands-on at all. I believe that staff are no longer in a schoolroom and should be given freedom to work without undue supervision.
6. What strengths/qualities do you look for in job candidates?
Integrity and loyalty.
7. What are some of your favorite interview questions or techniques to elicit information to determine whether a candidate will be successful at your company?
I would like to ask them about their previous jobs and how they interacted with other staff and reasons for them leaving and see if I am getting honest answers. The content of the answers are less important than the feeling I get about whether they have told the truth.
8. What sort of answers send up red flags for you and make you think a job candidate wouldn't be a good fit?
Finance and accounting jobs need people who are content to work in their respective roles for long periods of time without getting bored or frustrated. If a candidate is looking for something I know we may not be able to deliver, it is a definite red flag as they will not last long with us.
9. What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?
I like to play tennis and, yes, [have] the occasional glass of good wine.
10. If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
Working for myself, I think, although CFO World has the right ring to it!