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East Midlands Finance Awards 2020: Our Speakers Announced

In recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the first female to be admitted into the ICAEW, Mary Harris-Smith, we’re delighted to announce our key-note speakers for the 2020 East Midlands Finance Awards are two fantastic female leaders…

Floss Walton-Bateson and Jo Hodgson from Walgreens Boots Alliance have kindly accepted our invitation to join us on the night to share with the audience their experiences throughout their career to date, rising through the ranks of Big 4 accountancy firms and throughout businesses including Boots UK, Global Brands and Games Workshop PLC.

Jo & Floss will be taking part in a Q&A style discussion at the awards presentation evening taking place at the Nottingham Contemporary, Tuesday 23rd June. In light of International Women’s Day, we felt that now would be the perfect time to announce this and to catch up with these female leaders ahead of the event.



Left to right:
Joanne Hodgson, Financial Controller - Global Brands.
Floss Walton-Bateson, Director of Commercial Finance at Boots UK. 

Can you tell us about your career and how you got to where you are today?

Jo: I have been working in the East Midlands finance industry for almost 20 years. I spent the early part of my career at PwC where I completed my ACA qualification and worked in both audit and transaction services supporting client across a number of sectors. I moved to Games Workshop in 2009, initially in a finance partnering role but I soon found myself in a variety of finance and non-finance roles across Operations, IT and Programme Management. 3 years ago, I moved to Boots (or Walgreens Boots Alliance) to a finance partnering role in the Global Brands division and I am currently the Financial Controller of that division.

Floss: I started at KPMG in 2007; I did a summer internship there and loved it (and wasn’t sure what else to do when I left University!). I worked in Transaction Services there until 2013 – it was a great foundation for my career in finance…you get to visit lots of companies, see lots of different leadership styles and learn about what makes a successful business (as well as hard work, long hours and the importance of accuracy…all the fun stuff!) I moved to Boots in 2013 as I wanted a more stable work-life balance, less travel and to work on something that translated more easily into my day to day life. I also love shopping (especially beauty) so it was a great fit. Since then I’ve done a wide range of finance roles at Boots from supporting the supply chain to running the annual planning process – it’s been a great way to try out lots of different finance jobs in a company I know well (and love). I’ve been the Commercial Finance Director for around 9 months, and I love it; it was a job that I thought looked amazing when I joined but I never thought I’d be able to do it!

Have you faced any challenges along the way? And more importantly, how did you overcome those challenges?

Jo: I have faced lots of challenges along the way and learnt a lot about myself as a result. The main challenges have been: Maintaining Balance, both before I became a parent and since then, work life balance was one of the main drivers in my decision to leave practice and move to Games Workshop. As someone with a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed, knowing when to switch off or say no has always been a challenge and in many ways, becoming a parent has helped because it has put life into perspective and forced me to be more disciplined with my time.

Also, Self-Confidence. Outwardly I can appear confident and assured but inwardly I have at many points in my career been filled with self-doubt in terms of my ability, my style and how deserving I have been of my successes. As the years have gone by and I have been fortunate enough to benefit from development programmes, coaching and mentoring and through them I have managed to get to a place where I can recognise when the self-doubt is kicking in and use some tools and techniques to help prevent it from getting in my way. 

Floss: I think my biggest challenge has always been believing I’m good enough to do the next job – every time I’ve gone for an interview it’s felt a bit like a leap of faith (sometimes on both sides) but as the roles kept working out well for me I kept getting a little more confidence! It’s been really important to have someone championing my corner and helping me see what the next role could look like, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few mentors like that at Boots and at KPMG. 


Do you have any advice for females who are aiming for leadership positions?

Jo: I see a huge change in how women operate, succeed and progress in the workplace from when I started my career. 20 years ago, it seemed like to get ahead you needed to work and behave in a way that didn’t differentiate you from the men and true female role models were few and far between. My advice to women now would be to embrace the fact that awareness of and action on diversity and inclusion has fundamentally shifted – there’s never been a better time for women to be able to be authentic, to leverage the skills that women more typically bring to the table (integrity, honesty, developing others, collaboration) and to work flexibly. On a practical level I would advise two things

1.) Seek out a coach or mentor (they don’t have to be female, but they do need to be someone that you feel a connection to) and -
2.) Make sure you know what your values are and what your strengths are and seek out opportunities that play to them.

Floss: I think my advice for anyone aiming for a leadership position would be the out why you want to be a leader. If it’s just to have more power or to boss people around, you probably won’t be a good one! For me it’s always been about being able to have a bigger sphere of influence for each decision I make and it’s increasingly about having a great team around me and working out how to best support their development.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Jo: It’s an opportunity to celebrate the huge progress that has been made in equality but also to champion for that progress to continue – we have come a long way but there is still much more that we could do to create a fairer society and to make opportunities and choices as equally accessible to women and men.

Floss: The elevation of women in isolation (and therefore International Women’s Day) doesn’t always sit easily with me but the stats on gender equality speak for themselves…gender parity in the workplace won’t be achieved for 99.5 years, so clearly, we need to do something different as a priority. Days like this are a great chance to reflect on that changes everyone can make to ensure workplaces are inclusive for all and celebrate the progress that we’ve already made – I can’t believe that over 100 years ago there were no female accountants!

We would like to thank both Jo and Floss for taking the time to answer our questions so honestly. We can’t wait to hear what else they have to say at the East Midlands Finance Awards.

The EMFA takes place on the evening of Tuesday 23rd June and we will be releasing tickets for this event in early April. Remember, entries for our six award categories are open to ALL Accountancy & Finance professionals in the region and are free to enter until 31st March. Find out more about the event here.  

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