Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Q&A: Anya O’Reilly, FD, HSB Engineering

Q&A: Anya O'Reilly, FD, HSB Engineering

O'Reilly's family are incredibly supportive of her career, which includes getting her out of bed

1. Rise early or work late?

Thanks to my two young children, I’m an early riser. Most days we all try to sit and have breakfast as a family, which is a great (if sometimes quite chaotic) way to start the day.

2. Training preferences: on the job or formal?

Both! Working in insurance, a highly regulated industry, plus my technical background (ACA qualified, 14 years at PwC audit practice) means I know the importance of a sound technical training, and the need to keep those skills up to date. I think it is important to maintain a formal training programme for the finance team, to complement continuous on the job learning.

3. What’s your management style?

Open, direct and collaborative, with a very clear focus on delivery. I look to make sure roles and objectives are clearly defined and then allow the team to get on with it, but am always there to support them as needed.

4. Does delegation come easy?

No! But I got a lot better at it after having my children, as my time became much more precious and I realised the importance of working smarter not longer.

5. Who do you rely on most?

Definitely my lovely husband, Martin, who keeps everything together at home and is a fantastic listener, and probably knows much more about the world of insurance than he would really like to. At work – it’s a full team effort and I am fortunate to have a great team to support me.

6. Boardroom or restaurant?

I was brought up in a family-run hotel and so I’m very at home in a busy restaurant. I think that life experience was a great training ground for my career – gave me early first-hand commercial experience and instilled the importance of excellent customer service, staying calm under pressure and keeping a smile on my face when things may not be going quite so smoothly in the back office.

7. What technology would you never be without?

Afraid it’s the Blackberry.

8. Are you an FD for life?

I love the job, so yes I may well be.

9. What keeps you awake at night?

Getting lost in a good book – a fantastic switch off from the world. Going forward I may need to include jet lag! As part of a global group with offices in the US and Germany, I will undoubtedly be doing some overseas travel.

10. Critical advice to aspiring FDs?

Always look for opportunities to get involved in the wider business as commercial experience is crucial to being a great FD.

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