Andrew Healy: the CA in the scrum of Scottish rugby
Combining his profession with his passion, Andrew Healy CA speaks to Andrew Harbison about the unique challenges of being the FD for Scottish Rugby.
“There are no two days the same, rarely two hours the same.”
It is this variety, among other things, that Andrew says make his experience in his role as Finance Director for Scottish Rugby unique.
“We invested over £1million in the main BT Murrayfield pitch a couple of years ago, when unfortunately it looked like a field that was being dug up,” says Andrew, as we look out at an empty Murrayfield stadium.
"We had parasites called nematodes which ate away at the roots of the grass. It really cut up horrifically, it looked awful.”
Andrew trained with EY, mainly in audit, but included a small stint in insolvency. He then spent five years with telecommunications provider Thus (formerly Scottish Telecom), a year and a half of which was spent working in internal audit.
“You come across challenges with internal audit you don’t get elsewhere,” he said.
“You are dealing with high-level people and, ultimately, looking to improve the operation of the organisation.”
His opportunity to move into the sporting world came towards the end of 2006, when the position of Financial Controller at Scottish Rugby came to Andrew’s attention.
“I had to apply for it,” he said.
“I played rugby at school in Glasgow, then for the district under 18’s and under 21’s, and also played club rugby for ten years.”
After earning over 100 caps for Glasgow Hutchesons’ Aloysians (GHA), Andrew then spent nine years as a referee, all of which has given him valuable insight into his current role.
“People who have known me for a long time say it must be my dream job. Part of it yes, the subject matter makes it very interesting.
“Ultimately, the key ‘shop window’ product of the organisation is the national team, although the role covers everything from grassroots clubs and schools, youth rugby through to high performance, the women’s game and two professional teams, Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh Rugby.
“There is also running the stadium, on match and non-match days, together with various other aspects of running a £50m corporate organisation. It was, however, easier for me to understand the product here than it would be if I was, say, working for a company that manufactured circuit boards.
“The main principles of the finance are still the same, but there are certain aspects that will differ.
“As in any job, it has its challenges - many of which are the same as the FD role in any organisation.”
For many sports fans, watching the successes and failures of their teams can be an emotional rollercoaster. But for Andrew, and the rest of the staff at Scottish Rugby, this feeling is amplified.
“There’s a tangible difference in here on a Monday depending on whether the teams have won or lost,” he said.
There is an integrity in rugby that goes well with the integrity of the profession. There is an honesty and hard work that you need to have as a player to get the results, and it’s much the same in the CA world.
“This is the first time since I joined that we’ve beaten Ireland and Wales at home in the same season. I suppose the National team’s momentum has built up over the last 12 to 18 months, possibly even longer, and they have been building towards the results they’ve achieved so far in this RBS 6 Nations for a while.
“We all feel a part of it. We share the disappointment when they lose and at the same time we share in the pleasure when they win.
“We are hugely emotionally invested, which is one of the problems at times. We need to stand back and make objective decisions on what might be the best thing to do. But it’s a nice problem to have.”
In a game of chance, the risks are high
CAs are generally thought of as being relatively risk adverse, however in a game where the direction an oval shaped ball bounces can change the outcome, financial forecasting can be interesting….
“Yes, the outcome of a match can literally depend on any incident, in any second of a game.
“Unfortunately, if these go the wrong way in a run of games, there is a not insignificant commercial aspect that comes into play.
“Supporters and sponsors quite rightly want to see, and be associated, with a team that is playing well and winning.”
There may not be an obvious connection between the worlds of sport and finance, but Andrew believes there are more similarities than you may realise.
“There is an integrity in rugby that goes well with the integrity of the profession. There is an honesty and hard work that you need to have as a player to get the results, and it’s much the same in the CA world.
“Whether I brought one to the other I’m not sure. For me, it’s one of the key aspects that you need in both to succeed.”