We celebrate the “International Women’s Day” 2016. Interview with Déborah Hutschemackers, our General Manager Group Controlling
Armacell: Déborah, thank you for this interview at the occasion of the “International Women’s Day” 2016. We would like to celebrate this special day and tell the story about your career within Armacell. For the starts, please describe your career path in the company and tell us a little bit about your daily business.
Thank you for telling the story. I hope young women will feel inspired. Happy Women’s Day!
I joined Armacell in March 2007, as a Financial Controller for the PET plant in Thimister, Belgium. Less than 1 year later, I was promoted Finance & Administration Manager. In April 2014, I moved to Finance Corporate team and since March 2015, I am in charge of Group Controlling. My daily business consists of coordination, analysis and improvement of processes related to the reporting of monthly results, forecast, budget and business plan preparation of the 39 legal entities of the Armacell Group. Also, reporting of results to board management team, shareholders and banks. As a controller, you have to simultaneously wear different hats: acting as a business partner by providing insights to the team you’re part of; acting as a scorekeeper by focusing on reporting the financial performance or acting as an arbitrator by making sure compliance and governance is respected. Mainly, I have to make sure I bring the right people together to follow a common goal and common objectives.
Armacell: What an astonishing career path and responsibilities! 2015 must have been an interesting year for you. What projects did you enjoy the most and what stays in the pipeline for the beginning of this year?
Déborah H.: The recent buy-out of the company to Blackstone and KIRKBI A/S was an important project to which I dedicated a lot of time from August till end of November 2015. Also, integrating the 2 newly acquired companies in Turkey and Canada to our reporting structure and processes was a major project we worked on during 2015. Last but not least, we did implement a new consolidation software together with a completely revised chart of account and went live January 1st, 2016. This project is still keeping us busy in the first quarter of this year 2016 but it will be a clear benefit in the coming months. We are all very much looking forward to it!
Armacell: You have two children, your son Tom, 10 years old, and your daughter Margaux who is 7 years old. How do you manage career and family?
Déborah H.: Weekly organization is very often a race against time. I am sharing my time between Thimister which is only 5 minutes to where I live, Muenster, Luxembourg and some other travels. Of course, there are some time constraints, workload is high and deadlines are short. But I am quite flexible and autonomous in the way I plan my day. When possible, I try to leave the office not too late to enjoy dinner with the kids but then I would usually restart my computer later on from home.
Armacell: As a woman and a mother, what is your favorite thing about working at Armacell?
Déborah H.: At Armacell, we have the chance to work in a growing environment, be it in terms of product innovation, geographical expansion through acquisitions or implementation of new tools and processes. It is not only about the will to grow but also about the fact of providing ourselves with the means to grow. The company has a clear vision and strategy and even more important a clear roadmap how to achieve its longer term objective which is appropriately communicated at all levels in all Group entities. Usually strategy is a high level, Top Management topic. At Armacell, communication about strategy and objectives is such that everybody at each level, in his country and in his department, can feel committed. And this is great! In Group Controlling & Corporate Accounting Department, the team spirit is strong and the mood always positive even in time of heavy pressure and workload.
Armacell: What would you recommend young girls and women who would like to have a successful career?
Déborah H.: If you want to have a successful career the only important thing is: Do what you love, love what you do! Being a man or woman does not matter that much and will never define your abilities or professional skills.
Armacell: A powerful message for any young, aspiring woman on her way to planning a career. Thank you. For the end tell us, how do you spend your free time and recreation?
Déborah H.: I love city trips, skiing vacation but I am also fan of mountain in summer period. I love gastronomy, more eating than cooking to be honest. Good wine has my preference against good beer, and this while I am Belgian. I love shopping clothes and interior decoration. I used to play tennis, less frequently now. Last but not least, I enjoy watching football games even if this hobby is not that common for a woman.
Armacell: Great answers. Thank you very much for your time and spontaneity. It has been great talking to you. Happy Women’s Day and all the best for the future!
Déborah H.: Thank you for telling the story. I hope young women will feel inspired. Happy Women’s Day!