Please give an overview of your role within Optegra?
As Group Finance Director for Optegra, I am responsible for all the financial transactions and performance of the business. Both historically – ensuring that we are compliant with taxes, that everything is accounted for accurately, timely and provide insightful management information so that informed decisions can be make.
And looking forward, setting long term budgets and short-term targets and making sure we have key tactics to lever those targets and measure against them. It’s a strategic role as well as tactical.
What first attracted you to work in finance?
I’ve always wanted to work in finance but knew early on I did not want to be an external auditor of a business – I prefer to be within a company, developing it and finding opportunities for growth.
I’m South African, and studied at the University of Pretoria, and all my fellow students signed up to the Big Four audit firms, but that was not meaningful for me. I opted for a gap year and came straight to London working in accounting – this shaped my career as I learned the importance of setting budgets, being accurate, reliable and realistic.
I went on to become a Chartered Accountant and specialised in international taxes.
Why did you choose to join Optegra?
It was a fantastic combination of my joy of working with an international business and prior experience in the healthcare industry.
When I joined, Optegra had just acquired the Czech and Poland businesses so it was an exciting opportunity. Plus I’d worked in Germany and with China before so it was a great fit.
I also love what we do for people – in 20 minutes, we can provide a top-class procedure which can change someone’s life. My mother has AMD and must have regular injections, so I have a personal affiliation with eye health – anything we can do to help people like my mum is a win for me!
How has Covid changed the finance team?
The biggest change has been the whole team working from home and not seeing each other face to face, but we have all embraced it well. There is a real community across the Optegra finance team – 20 of us in total internationally – and so we even set up a weekly meet-up with quizzes and so on to keep that social engagement.
We’ve faced challenges of course as initially no revenue was coming in, the costs were piling up, but across the business we worked collaboratively to find ways to adapt quickly, be brave in our choices and embrace change especially with the increased volume of work and pressure the NHS is experiencing. We’ve ramped up but simultaneously had to be very efficient in our processes.
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Greatest achievement/proudest moment of your career?
I was very proud to become a Chartered Accountant as it was a long journey with lots of hard exams, while also having a full-time job!
I’m also very proud of my role here at Optegra. But to be honest, I come from a line of over-achievers in my family – which is a great influence to strive for more. It’s just not an option not to do really well!
How would you describe the ethos of Optegra?
At our foundation we are a very caring organisation – this is our core, to care, to work together and to be inclusive.
We are very proud of this inclusivity. Be You is an initiative Kathryn Bryant (our South Regional Director) launched last year where we can speak about our backgrounds and experiences. We support each other and learn from each other, and this caring environment reflects how we care for patients in all that we do.
Your perfect holiday?
Beach time with my family! Any beach, summer or winter, UK or abroad with our young son and our labradoodle, Rufus. Studland is a favourite in the UK, so soft and sandy; but my favourite beach of all time is Fish Hoek in Cape Town – it means ‘fish corner’ and is a beautiful bay and brings back fond memories of my childhood.
Any unusual or interesting hobby?
I’m very passionate about rock climbing. I’ve done a lot in the past and keen to get back in to it. Growing up in South Africa we would hike and climb all over, from Cape Town and Table Mountain to the mountains between Johannesburg and the coastline, the Drakensberg – I love it!
Favourite dish to cook?
I’m lucky to have a husband who is a very good gourmet cook! So I don’t get to the oven very often – but when I do my signature dish is a traditional South African dish called Bobotie.
It’s a Cape Malaysian curried mince dish with rice, banana and mango or peach chutney. I must confess that my mother’s recipe is quite involved, so I have chosen the BBC Good Food version instead – but she must never find out!