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Dev-Bank Wales MBO
25 June 2024

Emma Meets Stephanie Pettit Director, Barford Owen Davies

In this series of ‘Emma Meets', Emma Peterson, Director of Recruit 121 Finance & Accounting Solutions, finds out more about the sponsors of the Finance Awards Wales 2024.

Finance Awards Wales is designed to recognise, attract and invest in the talented finance professionals working in Wales, showcasing the best of the best in the finance industry. In this edition, Emma Meets Stephanie Pettit the Director of Barford Owen Davies.

Tell me about yourself and career to date?

I was born and raised in Cardiff. I studied Economics at Bristol University and then came back to Cardiff to start my career with PwC. I became a manager in Audit and stayed with PwC Cardiff for seven years before moving to Abu Dhabi with my husband and taking an 18-month secondment with PwC. I stayed in Abu Dhabi for another six years where I initially worked in the Financial Reporting and Control department of Etihad Airways and then progressed to take on the role of leading one of the global finance teams. Working for an airline during the Covid pandemic was extremely challenging and I learnt a lot about myself and how to be a better leader in times of crisis.

In summer of 2022 we moved back to Cardiff. Having added two extra members to our family we wanted our children to grow up in Wales and be closer to family. Having worked with Carrie and Emma – our Barford Owen Davies (BOD) founders – at PwC it felt like a natural move to join BOD, working alongside them doing the work we love, supporting SMEs to achieve their potential. I’ve now been with BOD for nearly two years and it’s been an amazing journey so far and I’m really excited about what’s to come and the difference we can make.

When I’m not working I love keeping fit. I find gym classes or getting out for a run really help to clear my mind and definitely make me more productive. As a family we love getting out and about in Wales, exploring the countryside and beaches.

Can you give me an overview of your company and what you do?

BOD is a team of 12 experienced finance professionals that provide outsourced finance support. Essentially, we can support any company with any task that an internal finance director or finance manager would do. We work with companies that aren’t yet big enough to require these roles full time as well as companies that have these roles but need additional support for projects or leave cover. One of our main services is preparation of monthly management accounts and FD support, and this is something I’m really passionate about. Helping business owners to really understand their numbers and be comfortable that their monthly financials are accurate to be able to make informed strategic decisions to ensure their businesses flourish. I love my monthly meetings taking clients through their results and seeing the difference it can make to their decision making when they have a clear understanding of their financial position.

We also have a projects and transaction support side of our business, led by our Director Andy, which is an exciting area of growth for us at the moment and really complements our other services. We offer many forms of transaction support from preparing for a fundraise, building fully integrated financial models and forecasts, to financial due diligence or transactions readiness support where we work with companies to prepare their financial information for a transaction. With recent developments such as the newly launched British Business Bank Investment Fund for Wales and the Cardiff Capital Region Growth Fund, we are really excited to play our part in helping get funding to the right businesses to unlock growth and benefit the whole of Wales.

What motivated Barford Owen Davies (BOD) to sponsor the ESG award at the Finance Awards Wales this year?

We have been involved with the Finance Awards Wales for several years now, first as nominees and then more recently as sponsor. We are delighted to have previously won best Independent Accounting Practice and were keen to give back, to both the awards and wider finance community, and be sponsors.

We are extremely proud of what we do and want to celebrate and support the talented finance professionals and businesses in Wales, playing our part in the recognition of excellence within the sector. Our company feels passionately about, and has a strong commitment to, ESG principles as part of our values, and we want to make a positive impact within the finance industry, which is why we chose to introduce ESG as a new category at last year’s awards and become category sponsors.

How does BOD emphasise the importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance factors in its own business practices?

ESG considerations are embedded into our company values and strategic planning, and we are continuously striving to improve our ESG performance. As a leadership team we demonstrate a clear commitment to ESG principles, prioritising sustainability, social responsibility and good governance which sets the tone for the wider team. This ensures that ESG factors are integrated into decision-making processes throughout the company.

We are passionate about being a sustainable and ethical company. We are signed up to The Green Growth Pledge which helps Welsh businesses take pro-active steps towards improving their sustainability, demonstrating their positive impact on the people and places around them, as well as joining a growing community of forward-thinking organisations who are helping Wales transition to a low carbon future.

We pride ourselves on being the very best employer we can be. We have instilled a culture of flexible working to encourage the team to enjoy a healthy work-life balance. Employees work flexibly throughout the week to accommodate their other commitments, such as family, sport, other hobbies, and passions. We do not have a fixed office, we flex between home, client sites and shared office spaces to suit. It is this culture, and flexible offering, which has attracted our truly talented, highly qualified, and experienced team of people. Having no fixed office and largely remote and truly flexible working helps keep our company mileage to a minimum, and our carbon footprint low.

We are also focused on being a socially responsible company, for example, using local suppliers with shared values and supporting local charities. We also encourage our clients to do the same.

While ESG may sound like something reserved for bigger businesses, the role small businesses such as ours play in driving positive social change is becoming increasingly important. It doesn’t necessarily need to involve a large budget or investment to make a difference. It’s about going beyond profitability and performance and doing the right thing for the people and world around us.

What role do you see finance professionals playing in promoting and implementing ESG initiatives, and how can this award inspire others to adopt sustainable practices?

We see finance professionals such as ourselves playing a critical role in promoting and implementing ESG initiatives within their organisations if they are in industry, within client portfolios if they are in practice, and across the broader financial industry.

We believe this award recognising ESG excellence can inspire others to adopt sustainable practices in many ways including showcasing leadership and achievements which others will want to emulate, raising awareness, providing benchmarks and best practices, aligning with stakeholder expectations and fostering healthy competition. All of these will help motivate others to raise their ESG standards, innovate new solutions, and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

Best advice you have been given and why

The best advice I’ve had is from my sister and it’s ’Don’t sweat the small stuff’ and I think this is very relevant both in my work life and my personal life, particularly as mum to two small children.

For our clients it is important to first focus on big ticket items – which changes will have the most impact and what actions really move the dial. Once these issues are resolved and actions taken then time can be spent solving the smaller issues. For myself and the team this mantra is a good way to help everyone prioritise their tasks and focus on what’s important to ensure that deadlines are met whilst allowing everyone to stay within the flexible working environment that we operate. We pride ourselves at BOD on offering truly flexible working and promoting work life balance. Staying focused on the bigger picture helps us all achieve this.

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