Finance Director of the Year 2019 – Susan Shardlow

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22nd January 2020

Finance Director of the Year 2019 – Susan Shardlow

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On Thursday 21st November 2019, Blue attended the ‘Finance Director of the Year’ awards, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Liverpool. We are delighted to announce that our CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Susan Shardlow, won the ‘Finance Director of the Year 2019, Cheshire Region’ award.

Before Joining as our CFO, Susan worked ina number of roles, for businesses operating in similar industries to Blue. Susan spent several years working in the finance team for Finning International, a dealer for Caterpillar equipment. During this period, she was involved in a number of acquisitions, disposals, system implementations and reorganisations. Following the role at Finning, Susan went to work for Hewden Stuart Limited, a major plant hirer. This role allowed Susan to develop her knowledge around the rental model and to understand what makes a rental business tick. She was able to investigate how to make the company profitable, by gaining an insight into which products are more profitable than others, in terms of rentals and how you promote these. At Hewden Stuart, Susan was again involved in several acquisitions, disposals and also worked on a major ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation. Susan’s most recent role before Blue, was working for a company Called CoGen, who build waste to energy power stations. CoGen worked on the Welland Development, into which Blue also installed a shredder, which turned out to be a nice introduction to the company for Susan.

Susan has a now been at Blue for two years this month, and this award win shows just how successful she has been since taking up the role. She has been influential in preparing the various Blue businesses, so that they can come together to work as one group. This included a significant amount of work to align advisers, processes and controls, including aligning all the year ends for each individual business, bringing in one auditor, one bank and one insurance company. Susan has also been heavily involved in creating a new corporate office in Booths Park, Knutsford. Since moving in, Blue Group have been able to recruit a number of employees to build a centralised team to support the future of the Group.

The prestigious Finance Director of the Year awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work done by the region’s tireless financial directors, rewarding the often-underestimated jobs they do. Along with winning the award for the Cheshire region, Susan was also anonymously nominated as a finalist for ‘FD of a Business with £75+ million turnover’. Susan comments: Receipt of this award was a lovely surprise and it is so nice to be recognised at such a prestigious event. The support from my team has been a major contributory factor – they have worked tirelessly to create a cohesive and professional finance function, able to support the Blue Group through its exciting future.

Susan is now keen to keep driving the business forward and face any challenges on the path ahead. She goes on to explain how she believes that completing this journey of becoming a group will reap its rewards in the long run; “I see huge opportunities for this business once we’re joined up and we do things in a joined up way. We will have so much more capability to go to market, with the ability to target different customers and different sectors’’. Susan then spoke about some of the cultural challenges Blue could face, as the Group starts to form; ‘’The businesses have been run as separate entities for such a long time, so it will be a cultural challenge for us to move forward. However, this also offers many opportunities such as learning and developing for our employees. We have a chance to focus on the development of the people within our businesses, by looking at where people want to go in their careers and provide them with the opportunities, in order to meet their goals’’.