In this ALPMA Member Q&A, we interview Jane Ritchard, the Finance Director at Wotton + Kearney, ALPMA NSW Chair and recently appointed ALPMA Board Member about her inspiration, career development and experience as a leader in the NSW legal industry.
1. What has inspired you this year?
Professionally, my biggest inspiration this year has been watching the firm continue to grow and mature. It's been great to be part of a management team that is helping guide the firm through its journey of development and change. We turn fifteen early next year, which is a great milestone. The firm is always looking for ways to improve and innovate.
The corporate social responsibility programme at Wotton + Kearney is a real source of inspiration for me. We choose a new charity to support and partner with every year. This year it's been So They Can. They do amazing work in Africa; providing education and housing to try to break the poverty cycle. There were some great fund raising events during the year, including some of the team going to Kenya to see the programmes on the ground and to run a half marathon in the Masai Mara. We're partnering with OzHarvest in 2017 which I'm very much looking forward to. The concept of reusing perfectly good food (that would otherwise have found itself in landfill) for people in need, is so elegantly simple and effective.
On a somewhat micro level and specifically in my area of the business, I'm excited about going paperless in our accounts payable process. It might not sound like a big thing, but will make a huge difference both to my team and the wider business. We'll be able to process accounts payable invoices more quickly - without printing anything out and have approval done through online workflows. That means there won't be any more lost bits of paper, we won't have to file paper invoices and we won't have to archive them and pay for storage for seven years.
2. How did you become the Finance Director at Wotton+Kearney?
Interestingly it was through ALPMA! I was approached about the position by a colleague that I knew through the NSW committee. So many roles at this level are filled through network contacts, rather than through more traditional recruitment channels.
3. What do you think is the biggest issue facing senior finance professionals in law
It can also be interesting trying to work out what is best for our firms. We all have subtly different businesses, so what may work really well for one firm, might not be the best for our firms. Then, once we've worked out what we need, it's important to set up the best resourcing for the project team. It's very rare to find anyone with much excess capacity in a finance team; so it becomes a juggling act to keep the wheels turning on normal operations whilst an implementation is underway.
4. What do you think the big challenge for law firms will be in 2017?
5. How has your ALPMA membership contributed to your professional development?
Being an ALPMA member has made my life as a finance professional in the legal industry so much easier. It has contributed to my professional development in so many ways. Initially, it provided me with great networking opportunities; giving me access to people who could answer the questions I had about how things worked in law from a financial perspective. Once I was settled in, I went to the regular lunch time practice management seminars and the annual Summit which helped me learn more about the legal industry as a whole. I've developed a deeper understanding about the HR, IT and BD aspects of our industry along the way. It's been great to be able to give back to the ALPMA community by being involved with both the NSW committee and more recently the ALPMA Board.
About our Guest Blogger
She is member of the ALPMA Board and Chair of the ALPMA NSW Committee.