Supporting Pan Macmillan's growth

Lara on how her finance team plays a key role in a growing and profitable company

How did you make the decision to come to Pan Macmillan?

I trained as a chartered accountant at Deloitte. Since qualifying I have worked in various media companies starting with Warner Music, then Bauer Media - where I worked in websites, magazines and radio - and then the commercial arm of the BBC working firstly in international TV advertising. When the headhunter approached me to work at Pan Macmillan in 2012, I was working as Finance Director for the BBC Global Brands division. I really enjoyed this job but I decided to meet with Anthony Forbes Watson, the Managing Director of Pan Macmillan, to discuss the role as I have always loved books. Although I am an accountant, at university I studied Ancient Greek and Latin Literature and I have always been a bookworm, loving many types of books. When I met Anthony, he told me about his ambition for Pan Macmillan to become the best publisher in the UK and I knew instantly that it was a place I wanted to work, both walking into the office and seeing a wall of books in the reception and hearing what Anthony had to say and his vision. I learned in my interview that Pan Macmillan was growing in an era when other print products such as magazines were in decline, and working in a growing company is another thing I look for in a job. It also had a very collaborative culture which was very appealing to me.  It was a very good decision to join Pan Macmillan. I have a great job, maybe the best accountancy job in London or at least the best one for me!

What was your path within our Group?

I have now been doing the same job for the last 8 years at Pan Macmillan. I came in at executive board level as Finance Director, leading the commercial finance function at Pan Macmillan and reporting into the Managing Director and this remains my role. This is the longest I have ever worked at one company but the job has changed enormously as we have grown every year since then and so my job has evolved too. Over this time I have also become a board director of Macmillan Publishers International and so I have taken on some extra responsibilities. Fundamentally it is the same job but in a much bigger and more profitable company.

What are the big opportunities ahead for you and your team?

My team works very closely with all departments in the company. It helps the commercial and editorial teams to make decisions based on finance and market data, providing them with the regular and ad hoc reporting and support that they require. A fully integrated and trusted finance team plays a key role in a growing and profitable company.  Our opportunities are to help Pan Macmillan grow and to be constantly improving our analysis and reporting and also to find more efficient ways of working as well as growth opportunities. We have a very consistent growth strategy at Pan Macmillan. Supporting this gives real clarity to me and my team and how to work with the business.

What do you love about working at Pan Macmillan?

Fundamentally it's the people and the books, it's a wonderful place to work. Everyone at Pan Macmillan is passionate, creative and hard working, it's really inspirational. As comparative newcomer to the industry, it's been an incredible privilege to watch a book come into the company as an unpublished manuscript and follow its journey through the acquisition process, the edit, the cover selection, the marketing campaign, the reviews and then become a bestseller and maybe even a TV programme or a film. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton published by Picador is a very good example of this and watching that process after many years of being a consumer was really wonderful. I also love the acquisition process itself, assessing the risk and calculating the right amount we should spend and then managing it financially so that we can meet our targets. It is intellectually really satisfying. I love the breadth of our publishing and its impact on people from the earliest of readers to those who wish to be entertained, to help make the world a better place or to learn.  And finally I love my team who are really talented accountants, totally engaged in the business, inquisitive, supportive and helpful -  they are great.

What advice do you have for job seekers looking to join as part of the group?

Research the company as best as you can, be knowledgeable about what we do specifically as well as generically. In the support functions, such as my team in finance, a love of books is not required but it does make the job more interesting and increases your engagement with the business and enjoyment of your role. Be prepared to work very hard but in an industry which is very rewarding in many other ways. And be prepared to try out new ideas, even though it is such an established industry. Things are always changing and trying new ideas is essential rather than getting stuck in the past.

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Lara

Finance Director at Pan Macmillan

"A fully integrated and trusted finance team plays a key role in a growing and profitable company."