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Pandemic forces Rolls Royce business partner to change gear

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 13 May 2021

ICAEW Insights speaks to Rolls Royce finance business partner George Acquah to discover some of the lessons he’s learned during the pandemic.

George Acquah is a Finance Business Partner in Civil Ops Purchasing at Rolls Royce. Born and raised in London, Acquah spent several years as a professional musician, then decided to retrain as a chartered accountant.

Acquah trained with PwC in the East Midlands and he was with the firm for six years in total. Then he joined Rolls Royce, where he’s been in several different roles: first internal audit, then a chief accountant role in the Marine Division, followed by an assignment in France as group controller for a JV-owned group of companies, and now a finance business partner for purchasing in a few of the entities in Rolls Royce civil aerospace.

In the run-up to ICAEW’s Financial Controllers’ Conference on 18 May 2021, where he will be a panellist on the Business Spotlight event, Acquah spoke with ICAEW Insights about how he has steered his company through the pandemic.

Lessons learned from difficult times

“Number one, it's important to try and make sure you have a strong balance sheet when times are good. You want to be sure your operations are doing what they need to do in terms of getting cash in as quickly as possible. Being really on top of credit control and making sure to invoice properly, so the processes are efficient, is a must. If they pass muster, then financial controllers will be much better prepared for the challenges like this which might come their way.”

Expert advice is absolutely invaluable

“One of the best ways I learned was through talking to others who have experience of past recessions. Plugging into someone’s expertise has been absolutely invaluable. I received expert advice on what key metrics I should be looking at and making sure I’m on top of cashflows. Also, things around making sure you talk to all your suppliers. Trying to make sure you have a canary in the coal mine to get as early a signal as possible of anyone else who might be in trouble as forewarned is forearmed. I gained lots of tips in terms of just trying to make sure you're not caught short.”

What shouldn’t you do?

“Many of those in a financial controller position can sometimes overlook their mental health and be too engrossed in working hard to ensure business safety. It’s vital not to burden yourself with too much than you can handle. Quite a few of us in this time have been very, very hard at work trying to ensure our businesses survive. And that could mean that we've taken on a lot of stress that we shouldn't necessarily have to take them on board, which can be quite difficult. Stuff around protecting your mental health should never be neglected.”

For members who would like to hear more of George’s insights, you can see him in the Business Spotlights session at the Financial Controllers’ Conference taking place on Tuesday 18 May

Connect to finance professionals in manufacturing to network and share insight and technical expertise via ICAEW’s Manufacturing Community

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