Jason Urry, Anthesis Group’s newly appointed Group Finance Director, discusses what he hopes to achieve for the group, the FT 1000 and emerging market trends.
How long have you worked in Finance and what are some examples of the previous work you have done?
I trained to be a Chartered Accountant for 3 years just after attending University at Kingston, and shortly thereafter began my career within industry outside of accountancy practice.
While my previous work experience has primarily been within corporate PLCs, I’m lucky enough to have worked in an array of sectors, from industrial process engineering to chemicals, security services, food manufacturing, media and consulting engineering.
I’ve also taken on numerous roles, such as Group Chief Accountant at Chubb and Group Financial Controller at WSP; after WSP was acquired by Genivar Inc. [now WSP Global] in Canada, I was responsible for the financial integration of the two businesses and became de-facto Group Finance Director for the WSP legacy group.
Overall, this has added up to 26 years of experience.
What do you hope to achieve for/at Anthesis?
One of our shorter-term goals is to unite behind a single vision and brand, so I’m hoping to improve the controls and efficiency of the finance function as we integrate legacy brands and grow globally. This will help us to capture more meaningful management information and enable us to understand business drivers across the breadth of the business.
Ultimately, I hope the business will be able to seize other growth opportunities in the market as we take a more aligned, global approach to our operations. I’ve already been impressed with the growth we’ve made up to date, though, having just recently come 78th in the FT 1000.
What does the FT 1000 mean for Anthesis?
The FT 1000 lists the companies in 31 European countries that have achieved the highest compound annual growth rate in revenue between 2013 and 2016, so I’m thrilled that we came in the top 100 and are the 4th highest performing Management Consultancy on the list; it’s a great testament to our rapid growth and expansion, and will hopefully raise our profile in Europe and open some new doors for the Group.
This is the second time already this year that our growth has been formally and externally recognised, as we were also named in The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 for a second year running in February [The SME Export ranks Britain’s 100 small and medium-sized (SME) companies with the fastest-growing international sales over the latest two years].
The FT 1000 is indeed a testament to what we’ve achieved over the last four years – what do you think the next four might hold for the group?
As I mentioned earlier, one of our shorter-term goals is to unite the global business behind a single brand identity. This, in combination with organic and inorganic growth, will support the progression of our existing service offerings and expansion into new service lines. We’re also looking to expand our presence in other geographical territories, within Europe, and further afield. We want people to see Anthesis as their go-to solutions and service provider.
What do you see to be Emerging Trends in our sector?
Energy transformation and decarbonisation have been on people’s agenda for many years, but the emphasis is growing as we move closer towards various target and regulatory deadlines. There’s also lots of emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability goal-setting, with many organisations making pledges in relation to waste and resource sustainability (such as Plastics, Paper Cups and Electronics), energy and sustainable sourcing and supply chains.
Additionally, I think the influence and impact of Artificial Intelligence and technology will reach a tipping point at some stage. During our [Anthesis] Staff Conference in December 2017 we had the chance to listen to Sean Culey, a brilliant speaker and Business Transformation Expert, on the role of AI, the immense speed at which it is developing and the fast approaching fourth industrialised revolution. Coincidentally, too, technology remains the best represented sector on the FT 1000 list, with 155 companies operating in that space, only reaffirming my opinion!
I know a lot of my colleagues are taking these issues and trends very seriously as well – in Greater Manchester [UK] we’ve just launched SCATTER, a city carbon footprint and reduction tool, and currently co-ordinate of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group.
What role does Finance play in Sustainability?
It’s not a new concept, but we’ve been ensuring that we reduce paper trails wherever possible, and utilise many different cloud-based and electronic tools to achieve this. On a larger scale we are in the process of deploying the use of data management system Kimble [Salesforce] within Finance and other parts of the business, which enables us to take a global view of our operations. This information allows us to more easily collaborate between geographic regions and for effective and efficient reporting and processes.
Finance also has a key role in unlocking the capital needed to make sustainability happen. We see the emergence of ESG and sustainable finance as major drivers in our market and with Anthesis market position in Advisory, Analytics and the Delivery of sustainability solutions, I intend to play a role in helping Anthesis gain access to these capital markets and realise this unprecedented market opportunity.