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Nikki, Commercial Financial Controller, Purina (UK & Ireland)

Whilst studying for an Industrial Economics and Languages degree, I did several internships within the marketing function of a large FMCG company. However, when it came to deciding what to do after university, I found myself drawn to the idea of a professional qualification to fall back on should I ever need to. Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen, I started to look for opportunities in industry to make the most of my recent financial qualification (and previous commercial experience and interest). Shortly afterwards, I found myself at Nestlé.

I joined in spring 2002 as a Supply Chain Project Finance Accountant with responsibility for assessing the financial implications of a range of supply chain focused projects. Working across a range of functions within the business including distribution, factories and the commercial divisions, this gave me the chance to experience a variety of projects and develop relationships with internal colleagues and external customers alike.

After being in the role for nine months, I was promoted into commodity purchasing within the Zone Europe Purchasing Function as Commodity Controller. Initially this consisted of controlling and reporting the derivative trading activity for cocoa and coffee for the UK and Western Europe. However, it quickly grew into Global Commodity Purchasing encompassing Commodity Purchasing for Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. One of the most interesting parts of this role was seeing the impact that external factors such as weather, the oil price and world politics can have on the price of a Kit Kat or a jar of NESCAFé.

In February 2009, I moved to Purina PetCare UK & Ireland as a Commercial Financial Controller. I wanted to develop my career and get a broader exposure in the FMCG world. Although my commercial experience to date was limited, the leadership team at Purina could see my potential and so I was given the support I needed to get up to speed quickly with what was going on in the market place. From the moment I joined the team, I was learning about the fascinating world of pet care - and I haven't looked back since. I have developed a solid understanding of the pet care industry whose trends often fly in the face of other FMCG trends, and now am more likely to be found reading a copy of the Grocer than Accountancy Magazine!

My current role is very outward looking, and I manage a team of four newly qualified and part-qualified accountants who are responsible for providing primary financial support and analysis to the Commercial Sales team and Marketing Teams. This includes frequent reporting to track our business performance as well as making recommendations on the future direction of the business based on solid financial analysis coupled with commercial insight.

The culture within Purina PetCare is excellent, and everyone I work with has a very positive outlook and a 'can-do' attitude which makes working here a very enjoyable experience. Our values are very important and permeate everything we do on a daily basis. Above all, we are passionate about what we do - a fact which is evident from the second you walk into the office, not least on the evidence of all the four-legged friends who join us at work everyday!


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