A career in AP is now a choice.
Join us as we talk with Stewart Griffiths APAM, exploring how Accounts Payable has evolved over his career and why AP is now a career of choice.
From the APA to LinkedIn, building a community within AP has helped define the profession and the career paths available to people.
Watch the video, listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.
Part 1 of 4.
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The Transcript: A career in AP is now a choice.
Rory Coleman-Smith: So, ladies and gentlemen welcome to another edition of ITESOFT Insider View. Today I am joined by Stewart Griffiths.
Stewart Griffiths: Thank you Rory, it’s a pleasure to be here today.
Introduction to our guest speaker – Stewart Griffiths
Rory Coleman-Smith: Thanks for coming along. We are going to be talking about how a career in AP is now a choice. But before we get into that, Stewart, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Stewart Griffiths: Hi, I’m Stewart Griffiths, I’ve been working in transactional finance now for almost, well more than, 20 years.
Started my career out as a credit controller… On the dark side of Accounts Receivable.
Worked my way up to AR Manager, and then, from there, I was offered an opportunity to come across to AP. Which, to be honest, I was reluctant to do, but convinced by my FC that it would be a good move for me, I took the plunge and never looked back really.
Since then I’ve held various AR, AP roles across various industries: FMCG, pharmaceuticals, as I am in now. Yeah, really enjoy what I do, I love AP and love the opportunities that it’s given me.
Rory: Alright, so, you mentioned that you were reluctant to join AP at first. Why? What was your opinion of AP at that time.
Stewart: I think that I had a very low opinion of AP at the time, I think, for me it seemed boring.
All people were doing was shuffling piles of paper and paying people. What’s the thrill in that?
Whereas on the AR side, credit control, you had the thrill of the chase.
You were collecting money, you were getting revenue into the bank accounts. You were a superstar in some respects.
So, yeah, but… my opinion has totally changed of AP, and I’m sure we will talk more about that as we get into the conversation.
Rory: It’s not boring anymore?
Stewart: No, no, no, no, far from it!
What makes AP a career choice now?
Rory: We are talking about a career in AP becoming a choice, or being a choice, why? What’s changed?
Stewart: I think, like I just touched on, I think AP has evolved from that whole back office, paper bound, boring function to something that’s really, now, at the heart of the business.
I think anybody now entering into an AP role has got a clear path as to how they achieve the aspiration of AP Manager.
Or even moving out of AP into something else.
Initially I think, the whole development of a person entering into AP now, like I said, clear road map, with the AP Association, with LinkedIn, there are places that people can go to educate themselves, get a qualification, to reach out to other people in AP and start that conversation.
Rory: Ok, so there’s a more defined career road map for an AP person nowadays than there used to be?
Stewart: 100%, 100%, I think, when I started a lot of people had fallen into AP, but now, as an opportunity.
I think we can definitely say that AP is a clear career and people can develop and grow within that function.
Communication is key for the community.
Rory: So, you’ve mentioned about the APA and stuff on LinkedIn. How do you think communicating with other AP leaders has developed Accounts Payable?
Stewart: I think LinkedIn is definitely one of the places where there is a lot of talk.
I think we are now, I see AP as a community.
I like to reach out to people within the community and talk to those guys and engage and try and find out what their challenges are, and what their issues are.
From what I hear, a lot of the issues are the same, but, we need to talk more.
You know, AP is a family now, families talk and we should talk a lot more.
Rory: Yeah, share your failures so that everyone can learn from them and not just you.
Stewart: Yeah, exactly building on your mistakes, to not making them again, and the challenges that we are facing is that those are, you know, are, immense.
But again, working together, finding out knowledge.
Rory: Everyone’s facing the same challenges?
Stewart: Yeah, yeah.
Rory: Or similar challenges…
Stewart: Yeah, yeah.
Making use of technology.
Rory: Ok, so, how do you think, in the modern age, technology has helped to expand your AP… part?
Stewart: I think, technology, to be honest, its revolutionised the way we work.
I think technology now, from the times of data entry to keying everything in, to now, technology has given us the opportunity to look at well, change the way we do things from then to now.
In terms of efficiencies and the time saving and cost savings and all the rest of it.
From the top, I think its amazing what’s out there and what’s available for people to be able to use. And how it does revolutionise the way we do things.
The AP leader of tomorrow. Today.
Rory: So moving onto the AP leader of the future, what does he or she look like?
Stewart: I think a leader needs to inspire their team.
You need to be able to be a good listener, you need to be able to communicate.
When I’m talking about communication I am talking about, what is the message? Do you understand the message? And breaking the message down sometimes.
I think, talking to your team and understanding what their issues are and how you can help them.
I think leaders are developers, I think leaders are educators, I think leaders need to, I suppose, walk the walk talk the talk to be credible.
You can’t pretend to be a leader. I think it’s within you and leaders have to know themselves.
Know their strengths and their weaknesses know what they need to improve on for them to be the best person that they can be.
And then, from the other side of that, is that gives them the opportunity to help their people and their team to be the best that they can be.
Because if you’ve got, if you’re in a high performing team then everybody wins.
Your winning, the teams winning, the business is winning. So there’s a lot to be said for empowering your team to be the best that they can be.
Rory: So, what do you think is the difference between the leader of today or the leader of yesterday, between the leader of tomorrow or the future?
Stewart: I think, there’s a whole thing around empathy.
I think leaders these days have to care, care about what they are doing, care about their team.
I think the leaders of yesterday were dictators. They dictated a lot as to just do this, just do that, and get on with it. It was expected that you would.
God forbid that you would ever shout out in an office and belittle somebody but it happens. And it still happens today. Is that the way to motivate your staff? Is that the way to lead?
So I would question all of those old styles and look at the new styles and say leaders these days aren’t any of those things.
I think there is a whole thing around the caring and the listening, the communicating, the empowering. I think all of those things are so, so, important.
Boss or leader?
Rory: I guess that’s the difference between a boss being bossy, and a leader making people want to follow them.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, you can’t be a leader without followers and if you are a boss, people work for bosses, and that’s, I think that’s true.
I think if I look at my leaders, I think people work for their boss and they give everything because they want to make their boss happy in some respects.
But the boss gives something back to those people as well, so that’s a two way street.
So you can’t, you can’t be a leader without followers.
Rory: Cool, that’s 10 minutes up for today, join us next week for the next edition of ITESOFT insider view. Thanks Stewart
Stewart: Thank you Rory