Katie Stringer

For Katie’s interview, we thought we’d go easy – we don’t want to get on the wrong side of Katie, she does pay our wages after all!

How did you end up becoming a Finance Director?

Being Mark’s wife certainly tipped the scales in my favour! When Mark asked me if I’d like to help out at the agency, I was working for a company handling employee benefits. I’ve got to admit, I was pretty hesitant at first – I’d always worked in travel, and had gotten to the point where I felt like I knew the industry like the back of my hand. When it came to the creative sector, all of my knowledge of the industry came from Mark talking shop at home.

Just like that I went from answering phones and general reception-type duties, which is still an important part of running a digital agency, to running credit control and managing the HR side of the business. I actually think the lack of agency experience puts me at an advantage, because it means I don’t have any romanticised notions of the business – I can look at it without a rose-tinted view. It means I can be much more pragmatic in my approach to the company finance, keeping our feet firmly on the ground.

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room – why do you think there aren’t more women working at AHOY?

We’ve had more women in the business in the past, so it’s definitely nothing to do with the working environment or anything like that. It’s not a conscious decision to have so many men, and obviously it would be nice for the gender split to be a bit more even – but it’s not as though we offer jobs based on gender or anything like that. I definitely ever wouldn’t discourage women from applying to work here!

We’re looking to expand the PR side of the business in the near future actually, and PR is an industry that tends to be dominated by women, so we might be able to even things up a bit soon.

What would you say was the most challenging aspect of your role?

Chasing overdue invoices is always difficult, it’s striking a balance between being persistent, but still being polite and professional. It’s not a sexy side to my job by any stretch of the imagination, but it needs to be done, and done well.

Have there seen any major changes in the finance world during your time in the role?

Mark has been pushing for more automation and tracking on the finance side of things for a while now, and I’ve been researching the options and platforms available. We’ve recently moved to cloud-based finance software that integrates with our studio management system. It wasn’t the easiest of transfers admittedly, but the benefits of it have been immediately visible.

I can see brands like Xero really changing the way SMEs run their businesses day to day – automatic bank feeds and auto reconciliation are lifesavers, really speeding everything up. It gives you a daily snapshot and progress report of our finances, rather than having to wait for monthly summaries and reports.