This month we spoke to Andrew McLaughlin, the newly appointed MIS Finance Director and twin brother of MIS AMS Managing Director, Chris McLaughlin about working in the family business
Describe your new role as group FD in 100-150 words?
The primary focus of the role is on the strategy of MIS and growth of the business through complementary new services as the existing businesses are already operating successfully without me. The secondary focus is to allow my father a well-deserved retirement so taking over all the administrative and financial responsibilities that come with managing the group.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where you started and how you progressed?
My career started with Logica (IT services and outsourcing) and later CGI (following acquisition) where I spent ten years in numerous finance roles within the UK, Netherlands and Head Office covering outsourcing, professional services/consultancy and corporate finance. Along the way I attained my accountancy and treasury qualifications.
I then decided to move to Capita for a new experience and became FD for the IT Managed Services business and then later for the IT reseller group of businesses (Technology Solutions). My more recent role prior to MIS was with Canon where I was brought in for my industry background and problem-solving capabilities to give them much needed understanding of this business area and support/lead them through a business recovery programme which I continue to support on a consultancy basis.
What’s it like working in the family business with your twin?
It’s good to work in a family environment and very different to the plc structure I am used to. Working with my twin brother is good and I think it’s brought us closer together. Certainly, we speak a lot more now! Fortunately, Chris doesn’t need too much of my help as he’s already doing a fantastic job.
What does your average day in the office look like?
I am yet to have an average day due to travelling and learning about the businesses in terms of what we sell and how we operate. Maybe I’ll get to this point in the next six months, although I’m ambitious and driven so I expect my average day can be simply described as “spinning lots of plates”.
Are there increased challenges working in a family business?
The dynamic is different, and I think we are still working this out, but it’s fundamentally a more pleasant environment driven by doing the right thing rather than being driven to hit a particular level of profit such as you see in a plc.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I have my family that keep me very occupied, but I also enjoy running, tennis and the occasional DIY job whether it’s needed or not!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very small I would have said the obvious choice of a footballer or perhaps less obvious choice of safari park keeper (I don’t know where this came from though). With age and through my teenage years I changed my focus and wanted to be a stockbroker with accountancy as my backup option. I might actually be the first person ever to admit that accountancy was an aspiration when I was a teenager, although I did know enough to know I didn’t want to do audit!
Where do you see the group in five years’ time?
I see MIS Emergency Services maintaining its strong #1 status in the ambulance command & control market in the UK & Ireland and I see MIS Active Management Systems growing its customer base substantially and becoming the leading provider of rent and repair systems in the UK. In addition to this we are exploring other opportunities to grow the business and I fully expect the MIS Group to grow substantially during the next five years whilst continuing to maintain our customer centric approach.
What kind of qualities do you need to succeed in your industry?
You need to be creative, forward thinking, aware of the external market and influences and you need to have a thick skin. In addition, I think you need to have a learning culture within your organisation because you will not always get things right first time so as a director in this industry you need to appreciate this fact and manage expectations accordingly.
What made you get into this line of work?
The IT industry is something I’ve been exposed to my entire life through my family and this has most likely influenced some of the directions I’ve taken with my career to date. That being said most of my career has been spent on the services side of the industry and less about software development albeit always with a financial focus.
What do you love about your job?
Working with my father and twin brother. This is something I genuinely never thought would happen as I resisted it for a number of years.
What do you hate about your job?
Monday mornings and the 4am starts to miss the traffic up to Cheshire (I live in the south).