- Stuart McNutt is finance manager for International Automotive Components Group (IACG) in Slovakia.
- In 2012 and 2013 McNutt worked remotely from New Zealand for IACG, before returning to Slovakia.
- McNutt recommends that young CAs try to find an older mentor who knows them as a person.
How did you find yourself in Slovakia?
After three and a half years with KPMG in Wellington, I left New Zealand in 1995 on what I thought would be a few years “OE” (Overseas Experience). After two years in Canada and the US I moved to Europe, but wasn’t interested in doing the standard London thing.
At that time Central/Eastern Europe was starting to take off, so I went to Poland for two years. After internal audit roles across Europe and the Middle East I decided, in mid-2001, to look for further work in Central Europe. Slovakia was opening up and was dubbed “The tiger of Central Europe”.
KPMG were looking for staff for their financial advisory team. The location was good with mountain biking and snow sports in nearby Austria. After three years with KPMG Slovakia I spent five years with a green field logistics and solutions provider in mobile telecoms, working in finance, commercial and operations roles.
In 2009 I was contracted to IACG to improve financial reporting. After three months I was offered the role permanently.
What does your typical day look like?
Up before 6am, I do some stretching and catch the early news. I then have a 50-minute commute through the countryside, listening to audio books.
In the first hour I go through key priorities for the day, approve purchase orders, and catch up on unread email. Nine o’clock is standard daily KPI review with the plant management team, identifying factors that can impact actual versus forecast results for the month.
The days can be dominated by reporting requirements, conference calls or meetings, reviewing and providing input into new business quotations, preparing or analysing reports, going through escalation points with my team and coordinating with managers or key staff in other departments.
In 2012 and 2013 I was lucky enough to be able to work remotely from New Zealand (for IACG) which let me bring my young family to live in my homeland. While working nights to match Europe time was a challenge, it gave me a lot more time with my family.
What do you like most and least?
The automotive industry is intense, but the technical and operational sides of things are interesting. I grew up on a farm, getting my hands dirty fixing things, so I enjoy the production and technology side of a manufacturing. The numbers are tied to the story of what’s happening on the factory floor, so there’s a need to be involved in understanding day-to-day activities.
When you chose accountancy, where did you expect to end up?
My secondary school accounting teacher’s approach inspired me. At Massey University I didn’t have an idea where accountancy would take me until my final year, when the big firms did their visits, and I became aware of the international travel opportunities.
I recommend to young accountants, find an older mentor who knows you as a person. They can then guide you in career choices that match your personality, aspirations and skill set, not just in choosing your first job, but in broadening yourself later.
Would you recommend an overseas posting?
Definitely. Having spent more than 20 years working outside of New Zealand, the experiences and opportunities I’ve had mean I have no hesitation giving the thumbs up to anyone seeking to broaden their horizons internationally.
This article first appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of Acuity Magazine which can be read in full online for free here.