Adrian Randall Prize for ‘Inspiring financial leadership’

Charity Finance Group is delighted to announce that the winner of the Adrian Randall Prize 2013 is Hilary Seaward. 

Hilary SeawardOn learning that she was awarded the prize, Hilary said, “To find myself associated with the name of Adrian Randall and the outstanding contribution he made to charity finance is a thrilling, if daunting delight.  Working on my original proposal made me more convinced there is an issue to be addressed and I'm eagerly looking forward to the chance to make my contribution.”

In an excerpt from her winning proposal she explains how she wants to make management accounts more accessible to Trustees from a non-finance background:

“I want to create a toolkit to help charities of whatever size take an imaginative approach to producing plain and simple management reports which all the Trustees will understand because they will have been instrumental in designing them.

Management accounts tell a crucial story but too often they are written from the accountant’s view point and in accountants’ language which alienates the reader and obscures rather than clarifies. After a while finance fails to notice the jargon and the lay reader is too unsure to questions it.”

Her proposal aims to “throw away the rule book” and design a creative approach to management accounts; her idea is a 5 step plan which involves carrying out a pilot study, developing her ideas with the knowledge of key individuals in the sector and finally developing a tool-kit and e-café to help support Trustees.

Click to read the full press release (19th March 2013

 

Q&A session with Hilary Seaward

What inspired you to work in the sector? At the end of my accountancy training I knew I didn’t want to stay in practice so was delighted to be awarded an Arts Council Bursary in arts management. I spent 9 months at the Royal National Theatre (under the guidance of CFG's trustee Sally O'Neill)  and 3 months at the Arts Council Eastern Regional office.  I never looked back.

How will the charity sector look in 10 years’ time? Probably slimmed down, but I'm being positive, hoping it - and I'm including social enterprise - will be robust, in good shape and through creative ways of working, helping bring the country out of recession.

What have been the biggest changes to the charity sector since you started working in it? I’m delighted we’ve got rid of the widely held notion, particularly I fear in the arts, that charities were somehow different; that basic business principles didn’t apply to them. A sweeping generalisation I know and there would always be exceptions.  It also makes for a much more interesting job; no longer just the bean counter, the ogre in the office usually at the end of corridor who says no you can't do that.

What song title best sums up your job? ‘Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat’
It’s no bad thing to rock the boat, gently, from time to time, but perhaps unexpected to hear it said of the accountant. I've always felt that to do the job properly you have to know and  understand the whole business, and that finance, fundraising and marketing are all intertwined. I'm lucky that, working with smaller charities I'm able to extend my role to cover all three areas, to push boundaries, make connections and suggest new ways to deal with old problems.

If you weren’t working in finance, what would be your ideal job? Writing children's stories

If you could go back to any period in time, where would you go and why? Fifteenth Century Italy to see just how Luca Pacioli explained double entry book keeping to the lay brothers for the first time.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?  It was so bad and miserable that I'd better not say, though I am oddly grateful for the experience; were it not for the need to do something about it I would probably never have trained as an accountant.  And it also made me appreciate just how important the people at the top are to the overall well-being of an organisation.

Who’s your charity sector idol? Admiral Robert Stephens who, despite advancing years, masters new technology and works tirelessly for the charity, The Jeanne Stephens Foundation,  he and his wife set up in memory of their daughter, wanting to leave a legacy to carry on her work in Mozambique, helping people they will never meet.

 

Click to read the shortlist press release (21st January 2013)

To learn about the prize - click here

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