Nick Kalfas

Head of Finance

"I liked the idea and the challenge of working for a charity and in the education sector, making a difference."

What led you to work at PETA?

I was originally brought in as an interim position after the previous Head of Finance was retiring. I had my own businesses and wasn’t looking to work full time, however I decided to stay on and join the company when Fiona offered the position because I enjoy working in education. I’ve worked with businesses for 25 years, even when I was a teenager I worked with my Dad and his businesses in South Africa, but it’s always been more about profit and building business. I liked the idea and the challenge of working for a charity and in the education sector, making a difference.

I enjoy working with small businesses and helping them grow, so working with PETA gave me the best of both, helping young people achieve things through their apprenticeships but also helping small businesses grow their resources. I’ve never wanted to work with big corporate businesses, I think you get to make more of a difference with smaller businesses, more often than not they’re owner-managed so you’re able to help them and guide them in terms of finance, strategy, operations etc. and have more of an impact.

What is your role at PETA and what drives you to do what you do?

My role is Head of Finance, I am responsible for the finance function, compliance, overseeing IT strategy and also for the management information systems (MIS), and safety, health, environmental and quality. Essentially, I oversee the financial strategy of the business, I ensure that we have healthy internal controls and financial processes in place, that our IT infrastructure is fit for purpose, and all obligations are met so that we have a safe and healthy working environment. I also work with the board to review investments and business strategies for the future.

What knowledge and experience do you draw upon for your role?

I have worked in small/medium sizes businesses for the past 25/30 years across different industries: accounting, construction, wholesale, manufacturing, hospitality, a wide range. I’ve held senior and director level positions in organisations for the last 15 years, I am a qualified CIMA accountant and I have an MBA. I’ve gained experience from working across different businesses, industries and sectors across different countries within Africa, Middle East and Europe.

There have been a lot of benefits of working with companies and customers internationally, you realise that business strategies are a success or a failure based on the people who are putting them into practice. Working with different cultures, nationalities and age groups, you realise that people have different motivations and so you get to learn a lot about how to work with different people. Things never really go to plan so it’s always important to have contingencies, as whenever people are involved there’s always going to be an unexpected change of pace or direction so it’s important to be prepared for that. It also helps you realise that nothing is impossible.

How do you approach your role on a day-to-day basis? What skills are required?

No day is the same, so I approach my role with an open mind. You have your experience and skill set, but it’s good just to approach things with an open mind because to don’t know what you’re going to need for that day. Also flexibility and agility are important because you’re going to need to adapt and change, so being as prepared as possible within your area of expertise, staying as up to date with things as possible but most importantly approaching things with an open mind.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I enjoy travelling, seeing different places and experiencing different cultures. I think the more you see the more you learn, so when you travel to different places you see the different ways that different people and countries do things and how things work in different places, it’s always something you can draw on. If you’ve experienced or seen a lot of different things it opens your mind to different ways of looking at things and you’re not always drawing on the same things to solve problems. I also enjoy reading and learning new things.

What are your personal values, and what is important to you?

For me, I like to be curious/nosey, whichever way you want to put it. From a value perspective, I try and treat people in a way that I would like to be treated, to always try and show respect and encouragement, trying to encourage other people around me. I don’t always get it right but also the other thing is I enjoy having fun. It’s important to be serious when you need to be serious but also have fun because life is too short not to. You want to enjoy where you’re at, work can be hard and stressful and annoying at times, but it’s always good to find the fun in it and with the people around you.