‘Future Leaders’ is a series of blog posts by the Financial Times in which we interview our team members and ask them how they got into technology, what they are working on and what they want to do in the future. Everyone has a different perspective, story and experience to share. This series will feature colleagues working in our Product & Technology teams. You can also connect with us on Twitter at @lifeatFT.
Hi Glen, what is your current role at the FT and what do you spend most of your time doing at work?
I’m currently the Finance Systems Manager at the FT. I handle our Oracle finance systems for the company globally. We take custody of the different Oracle modules, for example expenses, invoices, several revenue streams, cash management, everything that has to do with finance that gets recorded in the books. I manage a team of people doing a mix of functional and technical roles in Manila.
How did you get into the technology industry and do you consider your current industry more finance or tech?
I think I’m about 65% finance and 35% tech. I mainly first got into tech because I was recruited by the FT by my first line manager, Sophie Martin, who is now the Deputy CFO. She’s awesome and I worked as the team’s management accountant, based in Manila. Our team was an all girl group in B2B Finance! I went on secondment thereafter and worked on the migration project from ‘Sun’ systems to Oracle where I got to the systems side of the FT. Previously, I’ve worked with various other companies like Shell and Chevron working mostly Finance side while moonlighting on small tech projects. In technology the thing I like most is the efficiency, it’s fast paced and I work fast. Being a driven person who’s not a fan of waiting, it’s a balance act between working with finance and tech at the same time. You have to get that balance because although the Finance team are our stakeholders, it is the technology that makes things happen.
Since you’ve been at the FT, what’s the project you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
We’ve made a lot of implementation on the acquisitions side and lots of finance systems projects already — it doesn’t stop. The focus of the FT now is more acquiring since we were bought by Nikkei. Every year we have an acquisition and before, our team was quite dependent on our third party managed services. The kind of technology we were using back then could have been done in-house and this has always been the drive and steer of my now line manager, Jason, who has been instrumental to where we are now. Jason’s drive has always been efficiency and reliability. I’m so proud to be working with this team, we have such a ‘get up and go’ attitude and everyone knows you have to make things happen, which is amazing. I don’t really see it like there’s one project that I’m most proud of, it’s more about the relationships I have established and the way I have grown. When I onboarded compared to now, I feel like I’ve had more direction and I’m more focussed. It’s about the relationships we form and the challenges we conquer, not the projects themselves because work will be done but the relationships and the experience are the part you remember.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
It’s funny because earlier I had a chat about this with my boss and I said, “you know, some people just bring out the best in other people while some people bring out the worst in people” to which he replied, “Hopefully I am one of these “some people bring out the best in you”, and he definitely is!
Wow, that’s so true!
Yes. I’m also hoping I’m in the first type of people I mentioned! I practically live at the FT and I stay here because I love the work challenge and my mentors. I know everyone at the FT loves the culture here too. I guess the best lesson is that you can always bring out the best in people and this kind of response ripples. For example, if I’m the leader and I have mentored someone properly and that person has grown, upskilled, been treated well, once that person becomes a leader, what happens is the ripple effect. That person will do the same and it goes on and on. You can change a career and you can change the way a person manages others, it changes lives. This is more important than working with people who just want to get things done. My boss told me that it’s good for me to encounter different types of people at work people and encounter difficult situations, because it will help me grow.
Looking ahead to the future, is there anything else you would like to do, what’s next for you?
The thing about me is that I live in the present, I don’t plan. Of course I have long term plans but I don’t really plan. What makes the real difference is what you do here and now. Nobody is truly indispensable. We don’t know what will happen in the future so I think you should do what you want to do now and it will then bring you a step closer to where you should be. Even if I don’t have plans, I know, if it’s the spark of a moment and it’s something I want to do and I’m very passionate about, I do it. Outside of work you have to do something you love too, so I do woodwork and I make furniture, I also freedive and I swim. I’m passionate about my work at the FT but I also have other things happening in my life. Your memories are built by you and your choices bring you to wherever you want to go.
I would say likewise with work, I’m very thankful and I just got extremely lucky. I’m friends with my mentors and my team. I’m lucky because I met Matt Pooley, who is the FT Group Director. When I started at this company he was the Head of Reporting and we got on really well. We had the same way of thinking, we love life and we’re passionate about our work and care about people and he became one of my mentors. Then I met Jason, my current line manager, he brought a really great direction to our team and he is also one of my mentors. I deeply care about my team and I am extremely proud of them. You have to treat your team well, not just as workers doing a job for you and the company. When a job needs to be done, it will be done, but after that.. come on! Get some air and grab some beer!
It seems like the Manila team has a very friendly culture. You have a lot of social activities and pioneered a wellbeing week, which I know people in London and other offices are keen to do too. People really care about each other and they show it!
Yeah, I think it’s the culture of Filipino people to gather all together and invite guests for food. Anyone who comes to Manila would be treated like royalty! It’s nice, we like taking care of visitors and giving them good food and sometimes sing karaoke with them. It’s a cultural part of Filipinos I adore.
I tell my team, let’s work and finish the job and then we can all leave the office at the end of the day without any baggage and go home and do what we love because afterwork comes our real lives. Again, I guess I’d just say I got really lucky and I’m really grateful on where I am now.