Interview with an FD Craig Forbes
May 29th 2015 | Posted by phil scott
FD at Chubb UK & Ireland
How did you get where you are today?
Before joining Chubb in 2008, I studied finance at Glasgow University, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant of Scotland with KPMG. I had a varied career with CIBA Specialty Chemicals, where I spent 20 years working my way up from Financial Accountant to Finance Director of Northern Europe and Global Head of Business Finance.
I had the ability to spend two years in every major European city. This was an amazing experience, as I worked across the entire product range implementing financial systems and ensuring the effectiveness of the European supply chain.
I wanted to look for a position with full financial accountability and responsibility, thus the opportunity at Chubb came at the perfect time. Its international image attracted me, whilst offering an exciting opportunity as a finance director at a great workplace with a clear vision for the future.
What does your current job entail?
I lead the finance team at Chubb UK & Ireland, and aside from ensuring complete, accurate and timely financial information whilst adhering to statutory requirements, I certify a controlled environment is sustained.
I always keep up-to-date with business issues as part of the management team, working across the whole company to help drive business performance. Thus I understand upcoming opportunities, and this helps foster Chubb’s culture of transparency and openness.
Central to my role has been integrating different businesses of Chubb into a unified ‘One Chubb.’ Starting as the FD for Chubb Security, we integrated with Chubb Fire in 2012 and continual progressive integration has led us to become Chubb UK and Ireland.
I find the environment at Chubb inspiring; the finance team is superb and I enjoy seeing my decisions roll into action, while remaining responsible and accountable – it’s this framework of stability that has helped the business so much over recent years.
What makes a great FD?
For me, it’s all about the people – if you get the people side of things right then everything else follows.
Chubb gave me the opportunity to build my own finance team, which is now a close-knit, integrated team that’s doing very well. I believe the qualities that make a great finance director include leading a great team and strengthening finance and function at an organization. Working across the business and knowing what good financial results are built with upholding and strengthening the service and support elements of the business is also crucial.
Performing different roles on different days is very much the norm, and a great FD must recognise and understand exactly what the situation is and how to deal with it.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I am a huge sports fan, and go to a Formula One race every year. But football is my true passion, frequently watching Glasgow Rangers with my father and now my son. I went to my first game in 1970, have had a season ticket since 1986 and even when working abroad I watched great European football.
Music is also important to me; I play the guitar and used to be in a couple of bands when I was younger. It’s all about hard rock and heavy metal for me; Led Zeppelin and Def Leppard are fantastic!
Who or what inspires you?
Sticking to my Rangers roots, Ally McCoist is a huge inspiration as someone who struggled early in his career but with hard work and determination has become, in my opinion at least, a legend. I love to win and always be on my ‘A’ game – and that requires those traits that are important to getting the most out of any activity.
I respect creativity and people doing things their own way. I had a managing director earlier in my career who was a great people-person, insightful and motivational. He always said: “Grab every opportunity that comes along, it opens up another door” – and that is something that I took on, held true and try and pass on to myself and to others.