To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Accounting & Finance. They will be discussing their success, career defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Samantha Malone, Head of Finance, at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, had to say.
Samantha is currently the Head of Finance at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, one of Australia’s leading biomedical research institutes, pioneering study into the most widespread diseases affecting our community today. Starting her career with Apple and progressing to Senior Finance Manager, Samantha then worked at two other multinational organisations as Finance Director, taking on both legal and HR functions in addition to finance. Now at the Garvan, she is responsible for the financial operations of the group and is currently working on transforming the Finance team through implementation of a new ERP and process improvement project.
What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
"I think there are a number of factors that have helped me to get where I am today. I really enjoy what I do and have a keen interest in keeping my skills relevant so I am ready for opportunities as they arise. I am ambitious, but rather than seek out advancement for the sake of it, have taken roles that interest me. I firmly believe that if you genuinely like what you do you will be successful and the career rewards will flow from that. Also, I never give up! Perseverance will take you the extra mile, give you a sense of achievement and you learn a lot along the way."
What initiatives have you experienced within an organisation that you believe have helped you?
"I have participated in a couple of management programs and programs for high potential employees that have been run by organisations I have worked for in the past. These help to develop skills that might be outside your day to day role and encourage interactions with others from different areas of the business.
At one large organisation, I was able to manage a number of diverse projects that were definitely challenging, but built an in depth understanding of the meaning of team work and how to creatively solve complex business issues.
I was also taught the concept of considering the customer in everything I do. Finance people will often consider their customers to be internal customers only, but you will truly help your organisation if you also have a clear line of sight to the end customer."
Can you highlight any career defining moments?
"Yes, many years ago I had the opportunity to manage a large ERP implementation. This required me to look beyond the Finance function and consider all parts of the business and how they interact. It was a valuable exercise in expanding my knowledge and gave me a broader view of the world around me. It also made me realise how important it is to have a great team of people working with you towards a common goal. There were lots of laughs and a few tears, but the end result was better than we could have hoped."
What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Accounting & Finance?
"Keep learning and focus on the areas you enjoy. Understand your particular strengths and weaknesses and build on both of them. Be curious about what’s going on around you and always seek out the “why” for a deeper understanding. Take time to explore your emotional intelligence and keep working on this throughout your career and in your personal life."