Robert Doe qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte Haskins & Sells (now PwC) and has over 30 years of post-qualification experience in business. Robert has held senior finance and internal audit roles with sector experience in engineering and manufacturing, logistics and distribution, technology, telecoms, publishing and pharmaceuticals. He has lived and worked in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, USA and Canada.
Robert speaks French and German and has conducted contract compliance audits in the UK, USA, Dubai, France and Belgium.
His favourite time to use his languages is when volunteering as a Leader for the Ski Club of Great Britain in in the Alps. He keeps fit for skiing by rowing the rest of the year.
Robert’s background and approach
Here’s a recent interview with me to give you a little more background on who I am and what makes me tick.
What prompted you to start contract compliance auditing advertising and media agencies?
I first met Adrian during his early days of starting up FP and he seemed like a decent guy and professional with it; having worked with him so far, my initial impressions have been confirmed.
We’ve had plenty of interesting conversations over dinner when working overseas (3 continents so far), and more importantly, Adrian’s ethos in running FP and navigating the relationship between client and agency sits very comfortably with me. In contrast, not all my past experiences of audit in its various guises have been as robust as I would have liked.
How have your previous experiences in business helped you at Financial Progression?
I come with less experience than my colleagues of marketing and agencies but I have worked across a wide range of sectors and have done plenty of internal audit, again across various sectors, so I think my extra angle is in trying to understand what has happened over the period audited, how the account is evolving and therefore striving to summarise that story in a mixture of data tables and narrative that adds detail and precision of that historical review.
I have also spent many years working with business systems and processes, both in finance and supply chain, and am keen to understand how those work at an agency – and how the ‘intangible supply chain’ is working at an agency, fully exploiting the transactional data available to us, again to tell a story.
Which part of your work gives you the greatest sense of achievement?
Two things float my boat:
1. Hopefully arriving with maturity and experience on board to deliver Adrian’s view of an FP audit – of adding value to the client-agency relationship by demonstrating tolerance and understanding alongside scrutiny and attention to detail: the long-standing definition of the auditor in the UK – a bloodhound, not a rottweiler.
An agency that feels happy with having been audited by us is an uplifting experience (and is often in stark contrast to their existing view of auditors).
2. Coming with a fresh pair of eyes and looking at a few things differently such that the agency (and ultimately the client) are maybe pleased, intrigued, enlightened, with an enhanced perspective on things.
How would people describe you?
Understands the various functions in any business. Highly analytical as a means to an end and not an end in itself; therefore, sees issues within a wider context and drills down on systemic weaknesses and areas for potential improvement. Friendly and approachable; tough and fair.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Some people like to dream and originate new ideas; others like to make them happen; some are content to keep the machine ticking over; and finally, some like to make things better – that’s me.
Compliance audit appears to be an area that has received limited investment by most brands to date – therefore, anyone really paying attention afresh should be able to make observations that prompt a tangible difference and facilitate improvement in the client-agency dynamic.
Global brands that do invest in audit invariably have multiple agencies (or at least branches thereof) in multiple territories, probably multiple continents. And while much of my own business travel in the past has taken me to a multitude of factories and warehouses, any agency visit is more than likely to take me to the city centre of an attractive city. And when that visit’s done I go home, row at the weekend, play tennis during the week and head off to the next city the next Monday. They say variety is the spice of life.
What can you be found doing when you’re not at work?
Most of the things I was doing as a student! I had a gap year before university when I learned to ski: since 2009 I have been a Leader with the Ski Club of Great Britain. Skiing is my favourite sport – a good powder day transcends all other experiences – and I enjoy it so much more doing so with other good skiers (there’s my ‘woo’ again): there are plenty in the club.
I learned to row during my time at Cambridge – my second favourite sport; I now row with a town club and coach students at my old college.
I played tennis as a teenager as well as a bit of squash and badminton; I’m now addicted to real tennis which I also play in Cambridge – more challenging and compelling than the other racquet sports combined.
And I first stood on a windsurfer near St Tropez during my gap year; my daughter has caught that bug and spent the summer as an instructor with Mark Warner in the Mediterranean and so I relished a couple of visits to Rhodes last year.