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An interview with Lyndsey Teaz

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Lyndsey Teaz, Finance Director, ACCESS

Career to date:

I joined PwC in 2002 as an Audit Associate, where I stayed for five years progressing to Audit Manager.  I was fortunate to have a diverse portfolio of clients across a broad spectrum of sectors, which gave me a really solid understanding of how businesses worked.  

During my time in audit, I worked with clients that listed, acquired and disposed of other businesses.  This provided me with an insight to M&A, which I found really interesting.  As a result, I took the opportunity to transfer to PwC’s Transaction Services team, where I worked on a number of financial and commercial due diligence projects for both corporate and private equity clients and gained extensive diligence experience.

After almost five years in Transaction Services, I decided it was time to move on from advising companies to actually working within a business.  As such, I joined ACCESS in 2012 as Head of Finance.  The move from practice to industry was a steep learning curve, but my previous experience stood me in great stead, allowing me to put my knowledge of both financial controls and commercial business drivers into practice.

In mid-2014, I was promoted to Finance Director, taking on responsibility for our Procurement & Supply Chain and Audit, Risk & Quality teams as well as Finance, meaning I am ultimately responsible for all commercial activity within the business.  


Why did you think you would suit a career within finance?

I would like to say that I had a career plan from an early age and that I always knew that I would work in Finance, but that isn’t the truth!  At school, I enjoyed both Maths and Art – no difference, I know!  I decided that job prospects would be better if I followed a Maths-type career route, so applied to study Accounting and Finance at Strathclyde University.  The rest has been down to hard work and a bit of good luck in terms of the opportunities that have come my way.  Albeit I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I had followed the Art route!  

You stayed on within practice (which slightly bucks the trend) with a move to TS after you qualified.  Would you recommend this to other newly qualified CA’s as good career advice?

I would strongly recommend this to newly qualified CAs.  Working in TS provides you with a fantastic opportunity to experience working with the senior management teams of diverse and exciting businesses, deeply analysing their historical and projected trading performance by understanding the operational and commercial business drivers.  There are few roles that provide you with this quality of learning.  It can be a challenging environment to work in but if you are willing to work hard, the experience you gain is invaluable.

What do you enjoy about your current role?

Firstly, the business is really exciting.  I joined ACCESS in 2012, which was its fourth year of operation.  In effect, ACCESS was a start-up, which means there have been many opportunities to shape and grow the business.  Since 2012, we have successfully grown ACCESS by 30% in both revenue and headcount terms, of which I am very proud.  There are few organisations that will achieve this level of growth in such a short period of time.  

Further, as ACCESS is a joint venture between Serco and Glasgow City Council, I experience the benefits of being part of a global plc finance community, whilst working within a business that operates largely as a standalone entity serving the public sector.  My role provides me with a rare insight into both the private and public sectors and, as a Glaswegian, I have a real pride in working for an organisation that is delivering services to the city of Glasgow.  

Finally, as a member of the Executive Management Team, my role is really varied and, in turn, I am always developing.  On any given day, I can be agreeing strategic direction for the business, attending operational meetings, holding commercial discussions with our customers or suppliers, reviewing our financial performance, reporting to our stakeholders or presenting at board meetings.  Every day presents a different challenge, which keeps my role really interesting.  It also most certainly keeps me busy.

How do you feel your organisation’s finance function has developed over the past 2 years?

Owing to the growth in the business, the finance function has had to evolve and has changed significantly over the last two years.  Not only has it grown in size – doubling since I joined ACCESS – we have also developed the commercial and technical expertise within the team through extensive coaching, training and recruiting resources with the right skills and attitudes.  I am fortunate to have excellent teams working for me in all areas. 

I also actively encourage the teams to challenge the business processes on an ongoing basis to continually improve and ensure they are adding value through their work, not spending time on non-value add tasks or processes.  We have invested in lean six sigma continuous improvement training within the team to ensure that inefficient processes or processes that are no longer fit for purpose can be identified and transformed to stay effective for the business and also ensure that the work of the finance team remains interesting and rewarding.

What attributes do you feel makes you successful in your current role?

For a start, I like to think that I don’t conform to the stereotypical image of an accountant!  I regard myself as an outgoing, positive individual with strong communication skills, who can interpret operational matters into commercial information and vice versa.  To be successful in business, it’s really important to be able to interact well with stakeholders at all levels.  

I am also hard working and resilient, which means that I approach my work with passion and tenacity.  This is important as challenging roles or projects are the most rewarding, so you do have to be focused and care about what you are doing.  

What advice would you give someone who was considering a career in finance?

Work hard, seek out challenges and don’t be afraid of change, keep learning and developing, respect others and – most importantly of all – have fun along the way! 

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