Our Commercial Controller for Europe whose goal is achieving her full potential.
As Commercial Controller for Europe, she oversees the figures and finances of our day-to-day business and counts on Professional as a company that has given her opportunities to grow.
Achieving your full potential is a mantra Sharon is passionate about, giving her time voluntarily to support children in education at home and abroad.
Having joined the company in 2013 as Controller for UK & Ireland, she was asked to expand her role to include Europe, picking up additional responsibilities, before taking on the job in 2018 on a full-time basis.
What makes Professional – as a company – stand out to you?
I see evidence that the ‘How’ (we treat people) is just as important as the ‘What’ (achievement of objectives). I don’t believe that all organizations can say, and it really resonates with me as I have a strong sense of family and community. If the decisions we make benefit ourselves and our communities this must be a good thing.
One of our company’s Guiding Principles that hits home for me is to ‘Act Sustainably’. Building for the future and acting in an ethical and responsible way means not only thinking about ourselves and the here and now. I try to have this as part of my DNA and being a trustee of the UK registered charity VOS Foundation helps me put it into practise.
Interesting …tell us more about that!
The foundation is committed to the educational development of young people across Nigeria. Not all children have the opportunities that, for example, my two children have and I am passionate that kids should have the chance to achieve their full potential regardless of their family circumstances.
Personally, I can look back at my own experiences at Professional where I have been given many opportunities to develop.
Can you recall a specific example of your development journey?
Yes, when I was presenting on stage at the management meeting in 2018. All I could see was a sea of faces and I was nervous; but it went well and the feedback after was positive. It was a reminder to me that often the fear of doing something is greater than the activity itself.
Professional has encouraged me to be bold and I share this with others by telling them that if they are nervous: ‘Be afraid and just do it – you will be surprised at the outcome’.
Did you always want to work within the world of finance?
I was 17 when I decided I wanted to be an accountant – I know – it’s very strange for a teenager! I completed an Accounting & Finance degree at University in London and started my career in the commercial world after graduating. Whilst working and studying I became a fully-fledged member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants back in 1995 and have held a variety of commercial finance roles working in the retail, travel, telecommunications and logistics sectors.
I never wanted to be an auditor but loved the idea of working as a finance professional to really understand the business drivers to achieve corporate objectives.
What gives you energy both in and outside of work?
Enjoying what you do and having fun energises me. If it stops being fun, I think you need to ‘get out of the boat’ and find your passion. I would describe myself as a social person and love getting friends and family together. I hit a milestone birthday a few years ago and had the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends including colleagues – I’ve formed good friendships here.
It is great to be able to laugh, celebrate and cry together. Both my parents died within 18 months of each other whilst at Electrolux Professional and the support and kindness shown to me was a great comfort. This is community – being there in the good time and the bad times.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
There have been many, but I am most proud of how the Finance team stepped up to ensure that the spin off from Electrolux was a success before the world was hit with the Covid-19 pandemic. My colleagues have really gone the extra mile to ensure that we, as a business, were able to manage the risks and the support they have given has been tremendous. It’s a heartfelt thanks from me.
Do you have a role model – who and why?
Anyone with connections to the beautiful island of Jamaica will know Edwin Allen, who is my Great Uncle. He is cited as perhaps one of the greatest Ministers of Education that Jamaica has ever had and his passion was to ensure that the poorest children had access to schooling.
His work has helped to shape me and that’s why I have taken up a recent volunteer appointment as a Non-Executive Director of The Shared Learning Trust – an organization with a vision to deliver education of the highest standard that allows children to Strive, Believe and Achieve.