Matt Durney is Executive General Manager – Financial Control, at cloud-based accounting software company Xero Limited in Wellington. Xero has more than 2500 staff globally, and over half are based in New Zealand.

Matt came to his current position via Victoria University, followed by a stint in Europe where he worked as a treasury analyst, treasury accountant and OTC derivatives cash controller. Earlier this year he was a finalist in the Emerging Financial Manager of the Year award at the 2019 CFO Awards, which were held in Auckland.

He says that the finance sector is far more complex and interesting than it might first appear, and he has learned valuable skills and lessons from the companies such as Telecom, and the fellow employees that he's worked with along the way.

"A role like mine is essentially very multi-faceted because it requires me to have an extensive overview of all aspects of the business, doing major transactions in terms of new technology that will stop humans doing robots' work, and enable them to achieve in other areas.

"I have to act as an adviser, articulating numbers to people who might not necessarily understand them well, and that's a real skill.

"Then I need to track progress and outcomes, learning lessons from each project."

Good teamwork is essential at large companies such as Xero, and Matt works hard at motivating, testing and rewarding his employees.

"We're very lucky in having excellent people with a wide range of skills, many of whom have started as accountants, then translated their talent to other financial roles.

"New technology leads to new positions, and data is a good example. As the figures that are available to us become more complex, there's a greater call for specialist data analysts and people are up-skilling themselves to fill those roles."

Matt says that communication is the key to success in the workplace and his team always knows exactly what's happening, what's required of them, and why.

"It's important that we all believe in what we're doing and have ambitions to change the world.

"We value diversity and having smart people who work hard and genuinely like each other makes the work enjoyable."

He says that the team culture at Xero is so close, people make friends for life from within their peer group.
"We like to help our staff define career pathways, map out their futures, and promote them within the team, where possible.

Initiatives such as flexible hours, support for working parents and effective communication between employees and management via a handy app are other features Xero offers, in order to recruit the best staff available.

Matt says that every day, employees engage with the motto: "Let's do the best work of our lives."