Rory Forrest CA on successful performance factors and moving to industry
Rory Forrest CA, Finance Director for Signature Pub Group, qualified as a CA in 2008 with PwC, and spent a further six and a half years with the company in public and private assurance practice. Find out how he has progressed his career, and what advice he has to share.
What did you do after PwC?
As much as I enjoyed my time at PwC, I was keen to find a role where I could genuinely affect the performance of a company. PwC is of such a scale that I found it difficult to really see my input translating into a tangible, value-added output. I believed a role in industry would allow me better visibility as to the fruits of my efforts and an opportunity arose to join Robert Wiseman plc as Head of Internal Audit.
I spent a couple of very insightful years at Wiseman’s, working through its acquisition by the Muller Group and obtaining an in-depth understanding of the business and its processes.
My desire for variety and to be involved in the cut and thrust of business decision making led me to my next role, Divisional Manager, with specialist frozen foods retailer Farmfoods.
A wholly operational role, I was accountable for the performance of 50 Farmfoods retail outlets in Scotland. This was very different to what I was used to, as I was out on the road every week, with direct responsibility for more than 400 staff.
My job at the rapidly growing SME, Signature Pub Group, allows me to use my financial, operational and audit experience, getting involved in literally everything!
I joined Signature Pubs as Finance Director in March 2017. My job at the rapidly growing SME allows me to use my financial, operational and audit experience, getting involved in literally everything! I love the variety the role brings and the satisfaction that comes with being able to directly influence outcomes and the development of the company.
How does being Finance Director compare to your previous roles?
It’s a more senior position in a smaller company so, by definition, involves more accountability. As well as the more traditional FD responsibilities, as part of a small leadership team I am actively involved in strategic decisions across marketing, HR, procurement and operations.
However, there are many similarities between my current and previous roles. I don’t believe the keys to success in this job are significantly different to any management role, with effective communication, teamwork and leadership at the core of successful performance.
How has the CA qualification prepared you for the move from practice to industry?
Really well, and probably better than I had expected. The qualification provides the technical toolkit but you are maybe a little unsure as to what other skills you’ve accumulated over your training contract and any subsequent period in practice. It’s taking that leap of faith.
With confidence in your own abilities, combined with a bit of bravery, I am sure you will be surprised at how resourceful you are, and at how successful you will be.
What are your aims for the next five years?
Five years is a long time away and I honestly don’t know. I am enjoying my current role and it is an exciting time for the company. Assuming this situation continues, I would be delighted to be at Signature Pubs in five years’ time, having played a significant role in its successful and ongoing expansion.
This Q&A is based on Rory’s interview as part of the ICAS Gold Dust Career Insights series.