Martin Gaskell is Bank of New Zealand’s youngest-ever Divisional CFO and 2012 winner of the CFO Awards Young Financial Manager of the Year title but he took an unconventional path to a career in banking.
“As far back as I can remember,” says Gaskell, “I wanted to be a sportsman, Rugby League in particular. When I was 19 I was offered a professional contract to play for a Super League team in the UK. In the following days the MD [Managing Director] resigned and my contract was cancelled my heart was broken and I turned to accounting!”
His original career path was focused on sport, and he studied science at university with a view to becoming a teacher. When he made the switch to accounting, he had a choice to make. “I could go into it at mid level and pass faster or go all the way back to the beginning. I decided to go back to first principles!
Sometimes I think I wasted time, but other times I am thankful for my previous studies as they add an extra dimension to my knowledge, such as ‘team dynamics’ and ‘learning to learn’.
“I would never advise someone to intentionally take the path that I did, but I wouldn't change anything, either.”
His choice to pursue management accounting (CIMA/CPA) rather than financial accounting qualifications turned out to be a great move for Gaskell, “as the thirst for good management accountants in New Zealand is very high.”
Gaskell’s original career goals were to work somewhere “that had a great culture, values in line with my own, and an inspiring leader. It didn't really matter to me which industry so I didn't target banking specifically. When I learned about BNZ [Bank of New Zealand] I was sold. I was in New Zealand to take a six-month sabbatical from work in England, but I gave that a miss as I didn’t want to pass up such an opportunity. BNZ has never let me down and continues to be a great employer.”
9 Questions with Martin Gaskell, Divisional CFO, Enterprise Support & Operations BNZ
What was your first paying job?
My grandparents owned a little sweet shop and I would work there as a very young child. Looking back it was more “quality control” of the chocolate than real work!
In your experience are ideal employees made or born?
I always employ people based on attitude rather than technical ability and my ideal employee brings a great attitude to work learning, striving and taking risks. I believe the foundations are ‘made’ during the early part of life and a passion is found over time. This attitude, no matter how good, will be lost through poor leadership.
How do you prefer to communicate phone, email, text, social media, in person?
In person is always my preference, especially at work. I find I get much further than via email or phone if I take the time to meet a person face to face. However, in personal life a lot of my family and friends are half a world away, so I find FaceTime is best.
If you were stranded on a desert island with only one piece of technology, what would it be?
A solar-powered Swiss army iPhone.
What’s the one app you can’t live without?
BNZ Mobile bankingit’s so simple to useclosely followed by Photo+ for enhancing my very average photographic ability, and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends for free.
You’ve got visitors in town. What are the top three must-sees?
I’m in Auckland so it has to be a morning playing golf at Muriwai Beach, an afternoon at Mudbrick winery on Waiheke Island and day’s end at Eden Park watching the All Black’s [New Zealand’s men’s national rugby union team]. I drive by volcanoes on the way to work, jog by beautiful beaches in the mornings and see a beautiful harbour at lunchtime New Zealand is a must-see in everyday life.
Wine or water at lunch. Why?
It’s most likely to be a coffee. Slurring your way through the afternoon’s meetings is never a good look!
Where do you want to be in 10 years? 20? 50?
My only aims in life are to be a great husband and father and maybe in 50 years a cool old grandfather. The aims I have in work are to continually learn. In 10 years I would love to see some of the stars in my current team go on to make big impressions in their careers. That would really make me happy.
Describe your ideal retirement.
I don’t think I’m the type of person who will retire. I tried to take a six-month sabbatical and was back at work after three weeks! However, I could retire to a sailboat with my wife, sailing around the world to each big sporting event Super Bowl, the Masters, World Cup, World Series of Poker etcetera with regular stops at world-famous golf clubs to have a swing. Yeah, I could get used to that idea!
How did he get here?
- Gaskell undertook a national vocational qualification (Association of Accounting Technicians) level 2, 3 and 4 in the UK. In 2004 he achieved his CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification through BPP London.
- Senior Management Accountant at Ford Retail Group from 2003 to 2007
- Gaskell has been at BNZ since 2007, first as a senior management accountant, then manager of planning and Divisional CFO Strategy & Operations
- In September 2011 Gaskell assumed the role of Divisional CFO Enterprise Support & Operations.
- Became a CPA via the CIMA mutual recognition agreement in 2011
How Did I Get Here? is a new itbdigital.com series. It looks at the paths taken both intentional and accidental on the way to one’s career. Do you know someone we should profile? Email firstname.lastname@example.org