Bringing energy into a role: Ally Dick CA

Ally Dick cyclist header
Andrea Murad By Andrea Murad, CA Today

2 May 2018

Andrea Murad spoke with Ally Dick CA, International Finance Manager at lululemon, about what it is like to work for an athletic apparel brand, and how he made the leap from the energy sector.

How has your career changed since qualification?

I trained with EY where I worked in mining, oil and gas. I spent six years in London. While I was working with a lot of great people and interesting companies, I didn’t want to stay there forever.

Ally Dick CAMy wife and I looked abroad at opportunities and what we liked doing - we decided on Vancouver.

One of the great things about working at a Big Four is they’re supportive of people wanting to relocate. We moved here in September 2013, initially with EY. After three years, I explored opportunities in Vancouver and wanted to work at lululemon. I changed from mining and natural resources to retail – it’s a steep learning curve, but I really enjoy it.

Why did you decide to work at a retailer instead of the energy industry?

This industry is one where you can quickly understand the key drivers of value. If I compare retail to oil and gas, the value in oil and gas comes from engineers who understand the detail, where the overall strategy in retail is easier to understand.

Retail changes very fast, and I like knowing what’s relevant today and tomorrow in an industry. I specifically like working at an athletic apparel brand because I like the outdoors and I like to ski, mountain bike, hike and run – it chimes with what I like to do in my life.

What’s the culture like?

The environment is one where people live the best person of themselves. The focus is more on personal and professional development – lifelong visions and goals and how you’re working towards those through yoga, meditating, and thinking about what is important to you as a person and how that relates to your life.

What do you do as an international finance manager?

I’m responsible for the accounting of the overseas businesses – making sure that the financial information of those operations is accurate.

A significant portion of my job is to make sure we have the proper infrastructure in areas where the business expands.

On a day to day basis, I work with our operational finance teams to improve the processes used to produce the numbers, and I review these for accuracy and whether the results make sense or are different from what was forecast or budgeted. I look at why there’s a difference.

A significant portion of my job is to make sure we have the proper infrastructure, like policies and procedures, in areas where the business expands. I also work on group accounting matters and the implications of new accounting standards.What do CAs bring to the business?

ICAS encourages analytical thinking which is really important within any large company - the ability to not just think beyond process and outside the box, but from a holistic business performance perspective. That’s how my manager (who’s also an ICAS member) and I approach our jobs.

The CA training creates more of a business performance and analytical view of looking at financial statements and accounting, rather than purely on process or traditional ticking and checking.

It’s a journey that we’re on, and the change won’t happen overnight.

That’s the exciting thing for people who are joining in the next 10 years, hopefully, a lot of that ticking and checking will no longer be relevant. It’s good to understand the detail, but also, people have to think from a high level about how a business operates on day one.

It’s a journey that we’re on, and the change won’t happen overnight.

What advice do you have for other CAs looking to develop their career in a similar fashion?

My advice would be to remain focused on your goals and to understand in a five-year horizon what skills you need to reach that point. Don’t lose sight of today though and look to do the best you can in your current job - you never know what opportunities that’ll lead to.

How do you stay current with financial trends for your role?

When I was at EY, I could rely on the accounting firm to provide that support. Now that I’m in industry, I have to actively look for opportunities, like training and other materials, and tend to rely on the accounting community for my training - that’s a big benefit of a Big Four.

I look for detailed insight beyond what I’m learning through my day-to-day curiosity of what’s happening in the financial world.

I read traditional financial media sources, like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, and I stay in touch with the accounting world by relying on my network, listening to webcasts, reading newsletters and staying engaged with ICAS.


About the author

Andrea Murad is a New York–based writer. Having worked on both Wall Street and Main Street, she now pursues her passion for words. She covers business and finance, and her work can be found on BBC Capital, Consumers Digest, Entrepreneur.comFOXBusiness.com, Global Finance and InstitutionalInvestor.com.

Topics

  • CA life
  • North America

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