Ambitious, skilled and industrious; Imran Anwar is the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at fast-growth fintech startup Epos Now – a software cloud-based point of sales (POS) and payment system provider and one of RecruitmentJunky’s partners.
For rapidly growing businesses, C-suite level executives set the tone for the whole company. The CFO role needed someone who embodied the same hunger for growth that Epos Now’s CEO and founder, Jacyn Heavens, has fostered throughout the business. With the anticipated initial public offering (IPO) for Epos Now (recently announced), it was essential this person also had an innate understanding of preparing companies for IPO to meet this goal too. This is where RecruitmentJunky’s expertise in hiring executive and leadership roles came into play.
Our CEO, Rosanna Kierney, took the lead on headhunting for this role, and yet again made another impressive job match. There’s no doubt that Imran is the perfect person for the role at Epos Now, with over 15 years of cross-industry experience, particularly focused on building companies as they prepare for IPO.
We caught up with Imran to talk about the role and share top tips on developing a career in finance.
How did you grow your finance career to become CFO?
I’m Manchester born and bred. After I received a first class degree from Manchester University, I went straight into a graduate role with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and stayed in the audit profession until I was at a manager grade.
After this, I moved to London, where I was working with the capital markets and advisory team. The team was supporting businesses getting ready for IPO, or taking them through the process. This opened up a whole new world of support and professional services to me: it was fluid, exciting and intense.
My career continued to grow at PwC as I moved into a global transformation and change management role. It was internally focused, changing company methodology and systems, but the projects had an impact in over 130 countries. I then moved back to Manchester for the birth of my daughter. Returning to a portfolio of clients with PwC, my time was split between audits and advisory support. But I quickly became the “go to guy” to support businesses in the north going through the IPO process. Not all of those succeeded, but then many of them did!
However I wanted to set my sights further. I moved to Euro Garages initially and spent a lot of time in Europe looking after the operations and integrating acquisitions. Again: a very challenging and exciting role.
The Hut Group (THG PLC) was a great next step, offering me a huge breadth of businesses within one company, from ecommerce to hospitality, property, retail and technology. I went in initially as Finance Director to build up the finance infrastructure and governance processes ahead of an IPO process, which was thought to be three to five years away. We ended up doing it within nine months – by far the largest challenge of my career to date.
It put a lot of pressure on the team, which we had to build very quickly to balance the business as usual activity while managing a huge IPO project. We had to use temporary external resources, and whatever else we could, to get the job done.
At the time, it was the largest tech IPO in the UK.
And then I started talking to RecruitmentJunky about the CFO role at Epos Now!
What did you think about the hiring process with RecruitmentJunky?
RecruitmentJunky were very patient and understanding of my position. Rosanna and I were very open in our communication methods: happy to use text, WhatsApp or email – the relationship built up quickly.
Another positive was that RecruitmentJunky worked around me. If they’d waited for a slot on a normal working day, the process could have dragged on for weeks. They were flexible and made time when I was free, even if that meant evenings or weekends. Plus, Rosanna was proactive in sending reminders and follow ups – that desire to push things along was very helpful.
Finally, something that set RecruitmentJunky apart was that they’d done their research! They had read my LinkedIn profile, understood the businesses I’d been at, recognised the culture I was working in, and tried to align or demonstrate similarities to Epos Now. It was something I’ve not had other recruitment businesses do before.
What made Epos Now and the CFO role so attractive to you?
When we first spoke about the business, I said that Epos Now just screams loads of positive messages. For me, I was already bought into the company: loved the story, loved the business.
The vision of Jacyn and the management team was what makes Epos Now special. They’ve got a massive amount of ambition that matched my own – they’re looking beyond a £10 million, £20 million and even £50 million turnover. To find a leader who has that hunger and desire was an appealing thing for me.
Then you look at the business itself. It’s only really at the start of it’s journey, there’s so much more to come.
It’s a blank page role for me – I get to come in, start from scratch, and I have that trust and autonomy to create something myself and build it. To build a world class finance function and help turn Epos Now into an iconic business!
Epos Now is relatively well known if you’re in the same space. We’re hoping that in the next three to five years, we’ll have more of an impact on the world and our customers. It’s quite rare to come across a business to fit that “iconic” category, but I think Epos Now truly has that potential, as well as the executive leadership team to deliver it.
How have you found your first few days as CFO at Epos Now?
In three words:
- Welcoming! Everyone’s been really happy to have me join.
- Insightful. It’s interesting to see how much opportunity there is during these first few days to do things differently. I love being challenged – there’s almost too much being added to my to-do list!
- Exciting. The business delivering day on day has highlighted how much potential there is here. I can’t wait to channel where we want to put our time and effort first.
Do you have a favourite interview question you like to ask? What do you look for in an answer?
There are two!
First: what does work-life balance mean to you?
I always throw that in there, as everyone has a different view and it gives a real insight into what makes a candidate tick.
The other is: What are your top three natural strengths that come from your personality traits?
There’s a great book (StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath) which gave me the inspiration behind this question – it has a questionnaire in it looking at your personality. It’s scary how accurately it defines who you are and your strengths! But what you realise is that those strengths naturally fit with your personality.
I’m experienced enough to know that everyone can’t do everything. Therefore, what I’m trying to understand from candidates in an interview is what comes naturally to them. Because whatever comes naturally to you, you’re most likely to be comfortable performing and be the best at. Therefore I can start to build up which skills sit inherently with this person, versus which ones are going to take longer to work on, and then I can see how this fits in with the rest of my team. So that across the team, I’m covered from a strengths perspective.
What advice do you have for those looking to start a career in finance?
I would say just be open minded. Don’t focus on one area or department. If someone is offering you an opportunity to do something new or different, then take it on! You never know what you might enjoy or what might come from it.
For those already carving out a finance career, what’s your top tip for developing professionally to become a CFO?
Develop emotional intelligence.
I think reading people’s emotions and changing your approach or style to react to them is going to be a key skill, more and more as businesses start to focus on wellbeing and mental health. Realise that not everyone thinks similarly to you, or reacts the same way. If you can read someone and understand how they’re feeling about things, you can channel your questions or tailor your conversation differently to achieve a more favourable outcome for all involved.
Being a CFO in particular, you need to be approachable and have strong communication skills. You spend a lot of time managing people, be they advisors, investors, external parties…the list goes on. To do that successfully, a lot of it comes down to the relationship you have with them and the trust you have with them.
You also need to be able to say no, draw your boundaries and stick to them. You sadly can’t keep everyone happy. So it’s important to acknowledge that – it will help you get a long way in any career.
For me it’s always about relationships and communication.
From all of us at RecruitmentJunky, we’re excited to see how you’ll help to transform Epos Now Imran! If you’re a business owner looking for an expert recruiting partner to help take your company to the next level, get in touch. Alternatively, fill in our form with the exact details for your next ideal executive of c-suite leader, and we’ll be in contact ASAP.
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