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Finance and Planning Manager

Lorna Nicholls

I plan and collate financial information for budgetary analysis.

00:16 Reckitt Benckiser are a consumer goods company

00:20 in the household, healthcare and personal care arena.

00:26 My job is quite varied and it tends to go quite cyclically with the year.

00:31 Because of the fact that different things happen at different points throughout the year.

00:36 At the moment we’re busy planning budgets.

00:39 A lot of that involves looking at different spreadsheets,

00:43 we’ve got a large budget for research and development globally

00:47 so we have to work quite closely with the finance teams to ensure that it’s allocated appropriately,

00:54 and that we can track it for the coming years.

00:57 We have to give presentations to senior management to ensure that they’re aligned with what we want to do with the money

01:04 and make sure that we have sufficient funds to do what we want to do for the coming years.

01:11 So it’s quite varied really, there’s work with Excel,

01:15 there’s work with PowerPoint, pulling together presentations and then a lot of meetings with people and discussions.

01:24 I started off working on Air Wick for a year,

01:26 in what we call the category, which is where you take a project from kind of the concept stage through to the launch.

01:33 After that I moved to the New Technologies Group,

01:36 which is more of a blue-sky type arena,

01:40 and then after that I moved to Germany for six months to work there

01:44 in the Auto Dish team

01:46 and that was in the scientific services group

01:48 which is more of a kind of research and development, liaison with the factory team.

01:54 After that I moved to the Veet team for a year on waxes development,

01:59 taking some products there through from the kind of concept stages towards launch

02:04 and then after that I moved into my current role which is finance and planning manager for R and D [Research and Development].

02:12 To work at Reckitt Benckiser on the graduate scheme for research and development

02:16 you only need to have a technical background.

02:20 We’ve got people who are zoologists, we’ve got people who are biochemists that have come in on that route.

02:26 It’s not essential that you necessarily have a chemistry background

02:32 but some technical knowledge for research and development is the important thing.

02:40 The key challenges are probably similar to a lot of organisations;

02:45 communication is a key challenge in ensuring that you’re communicating with the right people at the right time,

02:51 ensuring that you’re on top of your timelines as well,

02:55 that things don’t drop behind because we’ve got products we need to launch to specific deadlines,

03:00 we communicate new product developments to the trades,

03:04 for example that could be supermarkets

03:07 such as Tesco or Asda. 

03:09 They expect our products to arrive with them at a certain time,

03:13 so we need to make sure that we’ve planned in accurately all the kinds of milestones,

03:19 all the kinds of problems that we’re expected to hit,

03:22 what risks there are and make sure that people are aware of those and those are communicated sufficiently.

03:31 What do I do on a daily basis?

03:33 I tend to talk to the category group directors about their budgets,

03:38 I will review the spending of the previous month to make sure that we’re on track,

03:43 I will forecast out for the end of the year,

03:46 to see whether we’re on track for our budgets for the end of the year.

03:49 I’ll talk to my boss about where we are with that,

03:53 so that he’s aware of it and if we require any additional funding he can make the case for it.

04:00 I will pull a presentation together so that we can communicate it to the wider organisation at the relevant time.

04:12 The thing I really enjoy about this role, because I am now more removed from the products going to market

04:18 and I’m not working in the lab any more,

04:20 is I really like the fact that I get an overview of all the products being developed within the organisation.

04:27 So before you’d work in your own category,

04:29 you’d know what they were doing, you’d know what products you were working on.

04:32 But you might not know what the team in the States were doing,

04:34 you might not know what the team in Germany were doing

04:37 so from this point of view you do kind of get that whole kind of bigger picture view, which I really like.

04:43 I also like really getting to work quite closely with some of the other functions,

04:46 such as the marketing teams, and the supply manufacturing guys.

04:50 Again, that’s something I was doing before

04:55 when I was working more on the product development side of things,

04:58 but you’re communicating with people on a higher level here,

05:02 so whereas before I’d be talking to kind of manager level, here I might be talking to director or senior director people,

05:08 and just meeting the different people within the organisation and understanding their viewpoints I’ve found really fascinating.

05:16 You don’t have to kind of say, stay down the science route if that’s no longer what interests you,

05:21 I think the skills you gain from it can be very useful in a huge number of areas.

05:27 Also, the opportunity to travel to different places is not necessarily something you think of when you think of science

05:35 but a huge number of organisations have opportunities internationally,

05:39 so there’s a vast array of different areas that you could become a part of,

05:45 and I think that the skills you do learn in doing a science degree can be useful to you for the rest of your life.

RSC Careers Profile Videos by Royal Society of Chemistry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

“The thing I like about this role is I really like the fact I get an overview of all the products being developed within the organisation.”

Career progression

I began in a department with Reckitt Benckiser that took a product from concept to launch, and then in a research department. I've been sent to Germany for six months for a position and am now in a role where I regularly liaise with people at the director level.

“The opportunity to travel to different places is not something you may think of when you think of science but a number of organisations have opportunities internationally.”