Close this search box.

Leadership video series: Robin Kiziak, VF Corporation | Part 1

In our new series of finance leadership interviews, we recently sat down with Robin Kiziak, Financial Controller at VF Corporation. 

In part one, Robin shares his 20-year finance career journey; primarily within logistics and distribution, with his advice on:

  • The unique appeals of finance in the fashion industry
  • Challenges of the industry and how to combat them
  • How leadership skills contribute to team culture.

Tune in to part two of our interview here.

"I’m Robin Kiziak and I’ve worked at VF Corporation since August 2021."

It’s been an experience because it was a start-up when I joined. So it’s very different now to what it was at the beginning; a lot more people, a lot more activity.

In terms of finance, as a team, I am finance on the site. So it’s just me, but we have a finance team centrally within Europe, and so I report through to them as well.

In terms, I guess, of my career to date…so, the last 20 years or so, I’ve been working in finance within logistics and distribution.

I used to work for DHL Supply Chain, across various different contracts; Homebase, Procter & Gamble, etc.. Primark was a big one. Then I worked at Wickes for some time. Then I worked at Hotel Chocolat before finally coming here. And it’s really good here, so yeah, I am pleased to be here!

So for me, I guess the fashion industry is interesting just because of the brands. Obviously, I’m a fashion icon myself… so, coming in and working with the big brands like The North Face, Timberland, Vans, you know, was a real pull for me.

And the other side of it was getting involved from a commercial point of view as well. I’ve spent a lot of time in distribution and logistics, but I get to see some of the commercial reasons behind what happens within the brands as well, which is good to see.

I guess, from [VF Corp] being a start-up when I joined, that was the other pull – it was something different, it was getting involved from the beginning, setting up processes, using my experience from other places to work in this industry as well.

I guess from a finance point of view, I’m very much in the middle of everything. So we get to see what the operation are doing, what HR and the training team are doing, what the commercial teams are doing… and I sort of put all that together to try and benefit the site here.

Wherever I work, it’s different-sized boxes, you know. When I worked in Wickes, it was kitchen and bathroom, so, in a big box… down to Hotel Chocolat when you’ve got the small boxes of chocolates… and here, you’ve got boxes with your nuptse jackets in or Timberland boots, whatever it may be.

So, it’s the same sort of thing but a box is a different size.

Obviously, as a world, we’re sort of moving towards that sustainability issue and we’re all having to approach that in a different way.

In fashion in particular, you know, we’re moving from that linear sort of… we produce something, it gets thrown away – that waste economy, to a more circular economy. What can we, as I’m told in the olden days, repair, reuse, recycle… how can we implement that now?

And I think that’s very much one of the big challenges, it has cost implications of course, as well. I guess from the back of that, it’s all about returns and how we deal with returns into the business… I guess, firstly, it’s to minimize returns as much as possible, by putting better sizing guides etc. on the websites.

But apart from that, it’s then also how do we then deal with those returns once they come back? Can we put them back into stock? Can we sell them as second quality? etc., etc..

So, I guess they’re the two big challenges at the moment that we’re facing; it’s that sustainability question and then returns on the back of it.

So that’s, leadership is a big subject. I guess from my experience, I think firstly as a leader, you need to be a good role model.

So that sort of culture, and everything else, comes from the top. If you’re not doing what you’re asking of other people to do, you fall down straight away.

I think if you are that good role model, you know, you’re honest, you’ve got that integrity, you do things for the right reason because it’s the right thing to do, I think that really helps and instills that team bonding, if you like.

And then I guess, on the back of that, sort of celebrating success… we’re not very good at doing it in finance. But, you know, if we hit a milestone or hit a key achievement, I think it’s always important to recognise that.

It doesn’t need to be a big thing, it doesn’t need to be a “we’re going to go out for dinner” or whatever… it could be that it’s a carefully worded email, which is, you know, recognising that hard work has gone into it. We’ve achieved what we meant to achieve. “Good job, team.”

And then I guess, also being accessible. So… not sitting in your office with the door shut, but also being available to your team so that if they’ve got problems, you’re open to them coming to speak to you. Rather than hiding away.

I think that really helps. Yeah, I think that sort of… those sort of three things underpin what a good team and what leaders can do to embrace that team mentality.

Join us for part two of Robin’s interview, where we discuss advice for stakeholder management, soft skills vs AI, and how to combat misconceptions of finance. 


You may also like

Tackling retail turnover: HR strategies for attracting and retaining talent

The rise of recommerce: circular and sustainable retail

Leadership video series: Mark Gilbert, Mondottica | Part 2

Is livestream shopping the future of UK retail?

Leadership video series: Mark Gilbert, Mondottica | Part 1

What is chronoworking? The new work productivity hack