The Only Way is Up - Career Q&A with Susana Gardner - FM

November 8th, 2022

The Only Way is up with Susana Gardner – Finance Manager at AGI Ltd.

Recently appointed as Finance Manager at AGI Ltd in Poole, Dorset having recently left her role at Bournemouth Transport Limited. Susana started her career in an administrative/accounting role. She loved the repetition of accountancy and the career path it mapped out. She studied her Level 2 AAT through to Level 4, in a total of 18 months, something to be very proud of! After completing her AAT Susana wanted to continue with her qualifications and had the benefit of having some super mentors who encouraged her to keep going. Susana is currently in the final stretch, finalising her CIMA studies. She said it’s not been an easy journey, with some very challenging times. But all worth it!!

We are lucky enough to hear her thoughts on her career to date; what it takes to study whilst working in a challenging job and she shares her own business challenges over the past 18 months.

Q1) Clare “In terms of your current role – what is your remit?”
A1) Susana “My role at AGI is to oversee the end-to-end finance operations, financial planning and analysis, balance sheet reconciliations and to look to improve procedures and controls along with ad hoc projects, with the aim to work with key stakeholders in achieving the overall business objectives of profit growth”.

Q2) Clare “What advice would you give someone embarking on a career in finance?”
A2) Susana “I would advise to complete AAT if not already done, whilst some elements I had already learnt in the roles I was in, it filled gaps in my knowledge and gave me a lot of confidence to move forward. I would also advise to not be afraid to work your way up from the bottom. Especially if you are studying, I see all too often people wanting to jump up the ladder too quickly, whilst it looks rosy and the money does improve as you progress, it does mean that so does the responsibility. I would also advise to gain experience in different roles, not be afraid to move if you want to progress your career”.

Q3) Clare “How do you juggle studying and working in a challenging job?"
A3) Susana “It definitely has been a challenge to study whilst working. When I was working in a manufacturing business, I was in a senior role that grew dramatically. I was also working 60-hour weeks and under a great deal of pressure. I did manage to progress in my studies there, but there were nights when I’d finish work, drive the 1 hr commute home and couldn’t study. So, it probably took considerably longer to complete than it should have taken”.

Q4) Clare “As Finance Manager, what do you enjoy most in your job?”
A4) Susana “Funny enough I enjoy the challenges! I would say I am a problem solver, someone who enjoys looking for a solution and resolving issues. I also enjoy projects, getting stuck into a cost saving exercise or improving reporting to the existing formats to enable better information flow to directors.”

Q5) Clare “If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would this be?”
A5) Susana “I think I would say, start AAT sooner, whilst I did complete it quickly, I feel I may have achieved my career goal, to be in an FD position, quicker.”

Q6) Clare “What do you think is important in todays world of work?”
A6) Susana “I think it’s important that companies show a real passion for their industry to attract talent in these changing times. Additionally, a company that perhaps is flexible with hybrid working and keen to challenge the status quo. I also think employers need to be open to listening to their employees ideas to help make changes to improve the working environment”.

Finally on a lighter note...

Q7) Clare “What would you do if you won the lottery?”
A7) Susana “I would almost certainly buy an Aston Martin Vantage and a bigger house. I’d also help my family to be more financially sound. I would also be looking to help charities and give some back to communities in need. I came from a difficult background and understand how hard it can be.”

Q8) Clare “Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?”
A8) Susana “I would love to be stuck in a lift with Jeremy Clarkson, I think he and I would have a lot to talk about! I’ve always loved cars, though I’m sure he would have an opinion on the car I drive at the moment!”

Q9) Clare “How do you relax?
A9) Susana “We have a Keeshond dog who is proving to be both a challenge and a joy, we travel the length of the country and go to dog shows with him. It’s been such an experience as he has done very well and now qualified for Crufts for life. Along with this I am a part time artist painting wildlife. I am building that side of the business up slowly as I have to balance it with everything else including study. But I have been given the honour of being accepted into the Association of Animal Artists recently which is an amazing achievement so far. My husband is also an accountant so we have plenty to talk about!"

Thank you Susana for sharing your thoughts and career to date with us! Wishing you every success as your climb up the career ladder!


November 2022