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Academy of Professional Development

An interview with a Financial Talent Executive Network (F-TEN®) mentor and mentee

Author: Corporate Financier

Published: 21 Dec 2020

ICAEW’s F-TEN business leadership programme aims to turn technical specialists into finance leaders who can maximise their boardroom impact.

The programme is open to finance professionals of all disciplines and offers delegates (nominated by their CFOs) the opportunity to create a strong peer network and external reference point, the chance to get clarity about their development areas through the one-to-one mentoring, and the time to tackle their leadership challenges through the peer learning and workshop aspects.

The top three benefits cited are increased confidence, clarity of thought and stronger relationships at board level. Corporate Financier spoke to mentee Brad Petzer, recently appointed finance director of Monetize.com and his F-TEN 2013 mentor Ben Stevens, finance director at FTSE 100 group British American Tobacco plc.

Brad Petzer

Finance Director, Monetize.com 

Why did you decide to take part in F-TEN?

First, as an ACA I have a duty to continue my professional education. The network effect is very powerful. Meeting people who have made that transition from the senior finance position to the top role gives you lots of different perspectives. F-TEN is run by ICAEW so you know you are working with the top accounting professional body.

And mentoring?

This part of the programme particularly interested me. By the time you get to CFO level you will have done many weird and wonderful things – leadership programmes, coaching programmes, personality tests. Having access to top quality mentors working at board level in multinational businesses is something quite unique.

How has F-TEN mentorship been so far?

Ben is very down to earth, despite the fact he is running a massive organisation. Some candidates plan out what they will discuss over the year. Ben and I prefer to keep it more informal and discuss the issues I am experiencing. He has also offered me access to his business, which is something money cannot buy. We have discussed a lot of high-level strategic board-level issues, not day-to-day accounting.

How will mentorship help you with corporate finance aspects?

Monetise is quite an acquisitive business. We have done some deals and there are deals to be done in the future. We have been quite public about our designs to move from AIM to the main market, which is something that will happen in the next six to 12 months. I can see myself tapping into Ben’s knowledge on future M&A and IPO when that comes up.

Ben Stevens

Finance Director, British American Tobacco plc

Why did you agree to be an F-TEN mentor?

Once you have got to the stage I have in my career it is good to give something back. For me it’s also an opportunity to meet bright people with ambition and drive and who work in a very different environment to BAT.

How much time does it take up?

My commitment to Brad through the F-TEN programme is 12 hours of mentoring over a year. We meet five or six times a year for dinner and the mentoring takes place in a relaxed manner over dinner. I am also available for ad hoc calls.

What difference does mentoring make to new CFOs

If I had been in Brad’s position years ago, it would have been invaluable to have a completely independent and experienced person to sound off with, not just on technical issues, but on how my career was going and the managerial impact I was having.

And what of the corporate finance aspects of his role?

It is a new fast-growing company looking to move to the main list. When that looms closer we can talk about that. He has just taken on the FD role, so it is more about his position and governance issues for now.

Article extracted from Corporate Financier published, October 2013