Tell me a bit about your role at Sussex Innovation.

As Head of Finance & Systems, I oversee our accounts and bookkeeping team, as well as the technology and systems that underpin many of our services.

What is your favourite innovation/invention and why?

I love innovation around music and sound, specifically listening to music. So for me it starts with the humble record player and speakers. It was more than just a device, it transformed the way we are able to access music, listen to new artists with high-quality sound and specifically with vinyl, there is the magic of having something tangible, collectable and having the culture around the album art.

What’s the number one problem or challenge that you hear from clients at the moment and what can be done about it?

Recovery from the pandemic, post-Brexit challenges, war in Ukraine, Cost of Living crisis. You name it, life is throwing us all some huge challenges. I’ve been hearing from businesses who are just trying to weather the storm and survive. The key to surviving and then continuing to grow is to innovate. It may seem like a contradictory message, but being able to respond to some of these problems in creative and novel ways that meet the changing demands of their customers will mean the difference between playing small and growing your business. It doesn’t have to be ‘big bang’, just look for where small improvements can be made to systems and processes, understand the finances and importantly take on customer feedback to drive innovation.

Why do you do your job? What do you get out of it?

As Head of Finance and Systems, I love that my job is about helping Sussex Innovation drive our mission to serve the start-up and SME business community within the region. I’m a ‘creative accountant’ and really enjoy sinking my teeth into a juicy business problem and solving it. I work with a great team in Finance and across Sussex Innovation, who are aligned on goals and values. It makes such a difference coming to work where I feel my contribution is truly making a difference.

What’s been your favourite project at Sussex Innovation so far and why?

I started here as Innovation Masters Programme Manager to deliver the Community Renewal Fund (CRF) programme across East Sussex as part of the UK Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. So the highlight has to be the creation of our ‘Sussex Pioneers – Lean Innovation TV Series’. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to do a completely green field programme, involving the talented film crew from Ironworks, collaborating with inspirational business leads from across the county, as well as academics from the Business School at the University of Sussex and of course working with the brilliant internal team at Sussex Innovation. It’s been intense, but we are all immensely proud of the results.

What kind of issues can you and your team help our members to solve?

The Finance and Systems team currently works with our members to help with payroll, bookkeeping and management accounts. We are also happy to consult on the set-up of new systems (for example, Xero) and tailoring management information reports to their specific needs. Additionally, we can advise on setting up user-friendly processes to help run your business more efficiently and provide advisory and coaching services on the management of finances.

Where will we find you on an ideal weekend for you? 

As you might guess from above, I love the arts and music. So whether it’s socialising with friends at a music festival or enjoying a cultural city break, there will be some aspect of music, culture and food involved. I’m looking forward to an upcoming visit to Dublin and then Rome. La Dolce Vita!