Interview Series - Santa's Accountant

Nov 26, 2020

Hello from Lapland!  I was delighted to be asked by PeopleSource to contribute this month.  I checked before I said yes to it and thankfully, they are all on the ‘nice’ list for Christmas, so are most accountants although there are one or two who have a bit more work to do! 

A bit about me…

Elves, like many accountants, follow their parents into the profession and I come from a long line of finance elves.  I was lucky enough to have been born in Lapland and during my school & college years I secured seasonal work at ‘The Big G’, that’s what Santa’s Grotto is known as locally, although is more popular with the younger elves.   I started on the production line, then Santa noticed I was very good with numbers particularly counting – this is a very important part of my role, imagine if I counted incorrectly and some child was left without their requested present! If this ever happens (and it did) it meant more work for Santa on the night so I implemented a few process improvements & internal controls which removes that risk and ensures the presents are delivered globally within a very tight timeframe. 

Tell us a bit about the business you work in

Many finance functions work around ‘men, money & minutes’.  Thankfully we don’t have any budget constraints in Lapland so we work with ‘elfs, emotion & efficiency’.  At The Big G we have a large team which means lots of opportunity for learning, developing and promotion. My dream is to become the CFO (Christmas Finance Officer) but I’m a few years off that yet.  My favourite part of the role is Toy Testing, I know this doesn’t sound very ‘financey’ but it’s an important role – we have to check the safety, durability, age appropriateness and quantify the fun factor of each toy. 

What is the toughest decision you have had to make in your career to date?

I was headhunted by  Initially, I didn’t want to go but I felt I needed to try a new environment to improve my skill-set.  I spent two happy Easters there and learnt a lot but, ultimately, they operate a very flat structure and don’t have the production challenges we have in The Big G.  I mean chocolate is chocolate is chocolate.  Also, I felt I was in a glass tunnel and didn’t see a clear line of promotion to the top job.  When Santa asked me to come back, I jumped at the chance even though I was offered 20,000 chocolate eggs to stay. 

What is the best piece of career advice you would give?

Don’t walk behind a team of reindeer when they’re juiced and ready to go on December 24th.   No, seriously, my advice would be that you can be as naughty as you like during the year, but get your act together when the auditors are come around.  Be nice to them and Santa will be happy with you.   

I recently gave some advice to Pascal Donoghue.  I was part of a Troika – Santa sent me from; there was Hazel from; and the Tooth Fairy (who doesn’t have an internet presence, bizarrely).  Anyway, we were called in after the pandemic struck and we just told Pascal that if you’re very good, wish very hard and REALLY believe, then the money to pay for Covid will just appear in your stocking, under your pillow and hidden somewhere in the garden. 

Who is the businessperson you admire most and why?

Santa Claus, obviously.  But if I had to choose someone else, I think I would say Jeff Bezos.  He has essentially taken Santa’s business model but he has monetised it and does it in such a way that it’s not so seasonal.  He offers everything your heart desires, but instead of giving it away for free, he takes a big margin from every delivery.  In team meetings, I’ve tried to get Santa to consider going down that road but he refuses.  I admire Santa’s integrity, but the reality is that when Rudolf and the team are sitting back with their hooves up, Jeff Bezos is out there mopping up all that non-Christmas business.  I sometimes have to remind myself: we work to live not the other way round.    

What’s your favourite benefit offered at The Big G

Santa’s is big into ‘Elf Development’, so I’m always doing CPD work.We also have a really good ‘Elf and Wellbeing’ programme which includes massages, yoga classes, etc so I never suffer from low elf-esteem!

Tell us a few of the best jokes from The Big G

Here are a few my dad used to tell me, no doubt I’ll tell my baby elves these in time too.

  • What do you call Santa when he takes a break? Santa Pause
  • What do you call a man who claps at Christmas? Santapplause
  • Who is Santa’s favourite singer? Elf-is Presley
  • Who’s the smartest member of Santa’s sleigh team? Rudolph the red-nosed braindeer

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