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Meet the new Techies judge

Kathryn Wellum-Kent is Business Services Director at MHA Monahans. She is an accountant who specialises in working with start-up and scale-up businesses based in the technology sector. During her career, she has worked with businesses in different stages of growth, from getting initial funding to bringing a product to market, through to listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Kathryn has been following the Techies for the last few years and we’re delighted that this year she’s come on board as a judge and sponsor. Her wealth of expertise will be a real advantage when judging this year’s entries and really complements the skillset of the rest of the panel.

We met Kathryn to find out more about her and what she’s looking for from this year’s Techies entrants.

Tell us more about your role and how you help clients keep in financial shape and achieve their goals.

I work with a wide variety of clients, ranging from small tech start-ups through to a large hotel group. Across all of my clients my role is the same – to help them achieve their business goals. The starting point always has to be getting to know each of them, understanding where they currently are, their journey so far and what their ambitions are.

I also like to understand why they are doing what they’re doing. This gives me a really good knowledge base to work from. As accountants, we’re never going to know the business as well as the client does, but we need to know enough to be able to understand the financial information that we see, what it means for the business and how it fits with their strategy. 

A lot of my work focuses around ensuring my clients have up-to-date financial information and helping them interpret it, so they can use this to make more informed decisions. 

How has Covid and the lockdowns affected you and your clients?

Every one of my clients has experienced significant change over the past 15 months. For a few this has been positive with increased demand for their offering. For many it has meant a reduction in revenue and the challenges that this brings; working out what support is available and what they need to do to survive. The common theme is uncertainty and that has been incredibly difficult to plan around.

On a personal level, it has been hard. I’m very fortunate to live in the countryside and can get out in open fields really easily. I’m an introvert so working from home and socialising less was ok to start with, but it has still been hard. The pandemic has forced me to make some positive changes to how I spend my time and as a result I’m happier and healthier.

Has the pandemic led to more innovation?

Definitely, which is one of the big positives to have come from it. We’re seeing more businesses develop new innovative products and services but we’re also seeing businesses become more comfortable with new ways of working. I am a big advocate for cloud accounting software and using technology to automate processes within the finance function. This is an area that clients are really starting to see the benefits of with more remote working.

In your experience what are the biggest challenges for business at the moment?

Cash flow. With the withdrawal of Government support packages as we move out of lockdown restrictions and CBILS/BBLS repayments starting, businesses will need to have a really good understanding of their future cash flows and where there could be issues. 

 Even if they are in a healthy cash position, this may impact their customers or their suppliers so there is lots to think about. It is another example of how technology can support businesses as there is some great software available that can help with building forecasts and predicting what the risks are.

What would be your top tip for keeping your business finances in order?

Consider outsourcing it. For most business owners I know, especially those in start-up phase, doing the finances is one of their least favourite tasks so it gets left. It also might not be something that they have much experience of either, so it takes a lot of their time.  

The cost of outsourcing could be seen to be restrictive, but I would suggest thinking about what they could do in that time if they were not doing it themselves and what is the value of that time to the business.

When you look at it like that, it often pays for itself, before you factor in the added value an expert can bring. If you are doing your finances yourself, automate the processes as much as possible and do it little and often so it becomes a habit, rather than leaving it to the month, quarter or even year end.

What aspect of being a Techies judge are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited to see first-hand the breadth of innovative tech businesses in our community. I’ve been working in Swindon for the past three years and it has been enlightening to find out about the thriving tech community we have here, which isn’t something I was ever aware of. It is one of the reasons why I’m proud to be part of the awards, giving recognition and shining a spotlight on these businesses.

What are you hoping to see from the Techies 2021 entrants?

Although I’m an accountant and often extoling the virtues of data, when I read through the entries, I want to know the kind of business they are and get a feel for what it would be like to work with or for them. 

When I have worked with tech businesses in the past, the culture is something that sets them apart from other sectors. They are often more collaborative, more innovative and more comfortable taking risks. This is why I enjoy working with them so much.

Connect with Kathryn on LinkedIn. 

 Entries for the Techies Awards 2021 close at midnight on Friday 17th September. Enter here.