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15 minutes with Executive Consultant Kathryn Parkinson

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20 Jun 2017
To celebrate our 15th year in business we sat down with Executive Consultant Kathryn Parkinson to discuss her career to date and her advice to anyone looking to secure a finance role in the public sector.

What is your current role at Sellick Partnership?
I currently work as an Executive Consultant supplying a range of finance, change & transformation and commissioning professionals into the public and not-for-profit sector on an interim, contract and permanent basis. I work closely with my clients to ensure I understand their culture and resource needs. 

How has your career developed since joining Sellick Partnership?
I joined Sellick Partnership in 2011 as a Resourcing Consultant and after six months progressed to a Recruitment Consultant working on the West Midlands patch from our Stoke office. From here I moved to Derby and worked with Associate Director Nikki Kinsey and the team for a further three months. In January 2014 I decided to move to Manchester and took over the Lancashire and Cumbria patch and was quickly promoted to Senior Consultant. 18 months later I was promoted to Executive Consultant and now manage a small team from our head office in Manchester.

How has your market developed since you joined Sellick Partnership?
The North West public sector finance market remains candidate-led and as a result of legislation changes and initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse there is a much higher expectation on the type of candidates our clients are asking us for, especially within the contracting market. Finance candidates now need to have the whole package – they need to have the technical knowledge that is expected of them, but they also need to be commercially aware, able to liaise and build rapport with non-finance professionals and budget holders as well as act like a business partner. 

Demand for highly skilled candidates will therefore continue to increase, and as budgets are tightened I expect clients to continue to request candidates that can take on a greater remit of responsibilities. Previously a Finance Director would purely be responsible for the finance function, whereas now many are required to manage additional divisions such as business intelligence, procurement and contracting and commissioning. As the North West leads on new initiatives like ‘Devolution Manchester’ (the transfer of certain powers and responsibilities from national government to a particular region) we have seen typical ‘business as usual’ and corporate services roles declining. Clients are requesting candidates with more specialist skillsets across commissioning and project and change management because of the transformation projects emerging across the region and the focus on development, implementation and roll out of integrated and shared services.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start a career in public sector finance?
For graduates with no experience I would advise getting some relevant voluntary experience on your CV. Undertake a summer apprenticeship or a trainee placement to get that foot in the door – contact agencies and ask about interim assignments during the summer months. Competition is tough, and if you are able to demonstrate some relevant transferable experience to a prospective employer it will enhance your chances of securing an entry role.
For qualified professionals looking for a career change I would advise focusing on the sector and area of the market you want to work in. If you are a commercial candidate looking to get into the public sector you need to be able to cross-qualify. You need to look at the transitioning steps you can take to break into a different sector, and be prepared to take a step back if it is what you really want.

I would also advise candidates to build upon additional skillsets that will be beneficial to them when looking to secure a role. For example candidates now need to be able to explain and interpret the data given, assess and analyse what this means and think about the various outcomes before they advise senior managers. As a result of this not only are clients expecting a high level of Microsoft Excel and IT experience, they also want people who can work across multi-discipline teams. There is always going to be a high demand for part-qualified, newly qualified and qualified candidates within the finance and accountancy sector, and I would advise anyone serious about a career in finance to research the industries relevant qualifications. As the sector grows the demand for this will only increase, and those that do not possess the desired qualifications are more likely to miss out on the best roles.

Where do you see your market progressing in the future?
Our market is always adapting and changing, and it will continue to do so. Brexit undoubtedly poses a major challenge for the North West recruitment market and it is evident that some organisations across the region have put their recruitment plans on hold to see what impact Brexit will have. It is extremely difficult to predict where the market is going to be in six months’ time, and as a result it is unclear what our clients’ recruitment needs will be in the short and long-term.

Because I cover the North West I expect confidence in the market to continue to improve as Manchester takes the reins of the Northern Powerhouse Initiative. The Initiative is already making the region a commercially viable option for large organisations and is likely to tempt more businesses to set up their headquarters in the north, presenting the recruitment industry with a real opportunity for growth as more roles are created. As a result I expect more roles to be focused around transformation and development as the scheme moves forward. 

There is also a shift in the way some of our clients are working. For example local authorities, CCG trusts and the education sector are beginning to look at ways they can share services. So I think we will see a shift towards much more integrated and collaborative working over the next 12-24 months. 

What has been your proudest professional moment at Sellick Partnership?
I am really proud that I have been able to progress to where I am with the full support and backing of the Senior Management Team at Sellick Partnership. I am now managing the North West patch which is in my opinion a real achievement, and I am proud of myself and the business for allowing me to get to where I am today.
To find out more about our 15th anniversary campaign please visit our dedicated webpage, alternatively to find out more about Kathryn and the roles she is recruiting to please contact our Manchester office on 0161 834 1642 or email 15th anniversary 
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