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Mercedes-Benz Retail Group
“Everybody knows the brand, everybody loves the brand and the car,” says Tim. “But I think ultimately, the people have made me stay.”
“I’ve had the honour to work with the best in the world. It’s just an amazing spirit where everyone is working towards the same goal. It makes your life much better and gives us a lot of job satisfaction.”
Tim started on a graduate scheme at Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany straight out of university.
Within this scheme, he was able to work across different departments within the business, had the chance to go abroad to work in New York for three months, and was able to do shifts in the factory to understand where the product comes from.
“I really did enjoy this,” says Tim, who believes this way of starting in the business also helped his networking within it.
After the graduate scheme, he worked within revenue controlling and pricing across some European markets including Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Greece and Czech Republic.
“That’s when I decided I’d like to go abroad because while working with international colleagues is fun, immersing yourself in another culture is even better,” he says.
In 2016, this decision brought him to the UK where his career then moved “quite quickly”. He began as Business Development Manager, but just over a year later was made Head of Controlling, and two years after that in January 2020, he was promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
However, this timing of promotion Tim would describe as one of the most challenging moments of his career to date, given the impact of the pandemic.
“That was really unprecedented times for everyone, but then being new in the role it was quite full on because we wanted to make sure all of our staff and customers were safe, but at the same time also still provide a service for essential workers in a set of rules that was changing by the hour,” says Tim.
Initially, the retail business had to close in line with Government guidelines and then when it was safe to, they had to establish a new and safe way of working.
“It was likely the most intense period of my life.”
However, it was the supportive culture of the company that helped deal with this pressure. “Everyone is really supportive because they believe you want to do the right thing, you’re never alone.”
“I’m very lucky to work with colleagues who support each other, even though there is a lot of pressure all day, every day, it doesn’t feel as much if you share it with someone.”
Now, the business has bounced back, says Tim. “Last year was already quite a fantastic year compared to the first year of lockdown.”
The finance department is also going through a restructure, moving towards a dealership structure, and it has established an online sales team.
“We’ve seen quite a huge shift to online sales, which for the car industry was unheard of before, because it’s quite a big purchase to be completed online,” says Tim.
“But we did see that customers during the pandemic were quite keen to do this, and now want to make sure that the processes we’ve established are also what the customer wants going forward.”
“The opportunity now is that the economy is bouncing back and, though Covid is still around, we can now see what the new normal looks like.”
Beyond his ambitions for the finance function of his role, Tim also has ambitions for the leadership element.
“What I really do enjoy – and I think it’s quite often the role of CFOs if it’s done well – is building bridges between the different functions.”
“I think it’s good if you have someone who is looking at the bigger picture and bringing people together and finding compromises.”
Alongside the CEO of Mercedes-Benz Retail Group, Angela Shepherd, Tim is also working on the culture of the business, to be more diverse and inclusive.
“We’ve started quite a few initiatives on diversity and inclusion, so everyone feels they can bring their best self to work,” says Tim. “If you have a motivated workforce, I think a lot of things fall into place easier.”
"I have two songs, one when I need to be in a good mood which is I’m So Excited from The Pointer Sisters. And the second one when I need a bit more energy is Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore."
"I’d have to say my sister Stefanie. She’s always inspired me with her confidence but also with her moral compass. She’s definitely someone I look up to and the person I can always call."
Chris is the founder and MD of GenerationCFO.com and creator of the Digital Finance Function Model and a contributor to many articles on our platform. Chris focuses on the shift toward digital transformation in accounting and finance, shows you what good looks like, then helps to get you there!
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