An Interview with…….
30th April 2021
Liam Slate – Power Distribution and Controls Finance Director, GE Aviation
On Wednesday, 28th April, the blogging team interviewed Liam Slate, Power Distribution and Controls Finance Director of GE Aviation. The team had a list of questions prepared, ready to ask Liam about his career right through to his daily tasks. However, Liam responded in incredible detail, almost placing us in the very experiences he was describing.
Liam has over twenty years of experience in the finance industry; he started his career at the University of Warwick studying accounting and finance. Shortly after graduating, he moved to London to seek his fortune, boasting an impressive employment history with Deloitte and Johnson Matthey. However, Liam made a lifestyle choice and decided to move to the southwest, ultimately securing a position with GE Aviation and working his way up to Finance Director.
Liam states that he really enjoys the responsibility that comes with his role as director, comparing finance to ‘The Matrix’ as you get to see the anatomy of business decisions and the knock-on effects each decision has. He is a firm believer in not telling people what to do but finds value in helping others see the solution.
The impact of Coronavirus has affected many of us around the globe; speaking with Liam, he shared how GE Aviation was also affected by the effects of Covid. GE Aviation is quite a traditional business, and working from home was something new the company had to adapt to; in a single day, 2/3 of the staff was sent home and had to stay home for a year. Working from home was a new challenge for the company. However, Liam notices that people can still be productive from home, but this is achievable if managers ensure that their team’s priorities were set and the team had everything they need to complete these tasks.
The first lockdown happened a week before the quarter-end closed, but with everyone working from home, Liam thought it would be a challenge for the team, however everyone played their role and delivered the best close they have ever had. Liam learned that if you let people focus on the process without any interruption, you will see all the efficiencies. Additionally, having empathy for the staff was crucial; Liam said it had been a rough year with the pandemic. Allowing the staff to feel comfortable and be their authentic self was a significant contribution to the process. Liam said corona made him realise you can bring your authentic self to work now.
Careers and top tips
We asked Liam – What do you look for in a candidate for a job role?
“A CV that gives a statement of quality. What degree did they get? Have they passed exams the first time? Can this person stand on their own two feet? If a candidate does get an interview, I would suggest that the candidate really does research on the company they are applying to. This means looking through the website thoroughly and looking at what the company has been doing in the past. The objective is not to understand the company but understand what the right questions are to ask in the interview. My final advice is to be as good as you can in Microsoft Excel.”
Liam made sure to put emphasis on doing research and asking good questions during interviews. By asking good questions, you can show that you are really interested in working for the company and it will make you stand out more from other candidates. He also emphasised the importance of Excel proficiency. This means moving on from basics and being able to use more advanced functions.
We also asked Liam – What advice would you give a graduate entering the world of work?
Liam gave us 5 points:
- “Take the hard jobs, especially in your 20s and 30s, when your career will progress the most.”
By taking hard jobs, you will learn more from mistakes, and you will gain more experience than you would from working in your comfort zone.
- “Have at least one mentor. You can have formal mentors, and you can have mentors that don’t even know they’re your mentor.”
Having a mentor will help you to learn and grow as a person. It does not have to be in the workplace; a mentor can even be a member of your family.
- “Work towards a vision. What do I want this job to look like in a year’s time, and how can I improve? Ultimately my biggest advice is to go into work and change something every single day to slightly improve.”
Liam focused here on continuous improvement. Working towards a vision and improving every day to get there can be highly enriching and rewarding.
- “You can’t always find the perfect role, but what you can do is find the perfect company for you. Finding a company that you truly value can help you to stay motivated.”
It is finding a company that you want to work for that can help you to stay motivated. It will help with the previous advice of continuous improvement.
- “Always remember the other person’s perspective.”
It is essential not to be dismissive of people’s views. Discussing with them why they have a certain perspective can help both of you to learn something.
Individual blogger’s thoughts
Jess: Personally, I really enjoyed this interview. Liam made so many important points about taking the harder tasks and applying for jobs that might be outside of your comfort zone. This is how you grow and develop the resilience required for a successful career.
Sam: I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to Liam. It was fantastic to get an insight into how he thinks as a director and a leader. He gave great advice based on his own experiences, and it is clear to see why he has been successful.
Santeeno: I really enjoyed this interview with Liam. From the interview, I took away that it is vital to always listen to the other person’s perspective. This was such valuable advice because this is a good practice that can be applied to any situation or task in life.
Many Thanks to Liam for his time and our fantastic blog team who prepared a brilliant interview.