It was an honour to be asked to judge the 2015 FDs’ Excellence Award for the Private Company FD of the Year – Smaller businesses category. With me on the panel was Liz Rylatt, executive director, finance, operations and members, ICAEW and Naomi Fieldus, BGF Talent Network Manager at Business Growth Fund. Between the 3 of us I thought we had a well-rounded mix of experience for the category.

Held at the ICAEW’s auspicious Moorgate Place, we interviewed 4 finalists from a formidable shortlist. All of their submissions were outstanding. Our questioning was targeted as the clock was ticking but we all felt we could have listened to their war stories for longer. I can’t reveal the winner of course until the Awards ceremony on May 14 but I will say the winner is a first among equals. All have delivered significant value in their respective organisations.The event is run by Real Business, held in association with ICAEW and supported by the CBI, with Lloyds as a sponsor – all organisations that share fdu group’s commitment to SME growth. In my mind, the judging criteria captures the essence of what an FD should be all about in the SME space: a master of many trades, from IT and HR to facilities management and logistics, all delivered with good humour and enthusiasm – but always with a backdrop of good financial discipline and strong influencing skills within the organisation.Key judging criteria we were asked to assess by were:

Financial Directors who go above and beyond a pure accounting function (although finance excellence should be a given);
Financial Directors who make an active contribution to decisions by managers and staff across the business;
Financial Directors who can “speak the language” and communicate clearly and effectively;
Financial Directors who have undertaken challenging projects – such as systems roll-outs, new business opportunities or restructuring – that have delivered a step-change to their organisation’s performance;
Financial Directors who have saved the day – in a challenging economy, high quality FDs often contribute to company survival as well as growth; and
Role-model potential – does the candidate have the ability to inspire other, younger, ambitious finance professionals?

I’d like to thank my co-judges for an enjoyable morning. I know we were all impressed with the talent on offer and we are all looking forward to the event celebrating FD excellence, not just in this category, but across the spectrum.For more information about the FDs’ Excellence Awards: