Ten questions with a communications agency financial manager

Meet Mercy Moyo: balance-sheet dynamo; creditors and debtor whizz woman

Mercy 1.jpg

Meet Mercy Moyo: balance-sheet dynamo; creditors and debtor whizz woman; and calm holder-together-of-things in the Flow Communications accounts and finance office. Mercy is financial manager at Flow Communications

What insights can you share about trends in the communications consulting sector?

Agencies must tightly manage their costs and revenue. Diversification has become critical for agency survival. The world is changing at a sometimes startling pace, and communications consulting is no exception. Diversification gives a good spread of risk,  and it also encourages nimble thinking, enabling consultants to service a multitude of sectors and industries. It’s just a good business idea. Agencies that aren’t diversifying are not doing so at their risk.

What value does a well-managed finance division add to an agency?

An on-the-ball finance department means managers can forward-plan with confidence. Finance, when done properly, arms decision-makers with the facts they need to make informed plans about growth, about acquisitions and about new hires. Finance is the reality check; accounts is forward-looking. Take efficient finance out the mix, and everybody is stumbling about in the dark.

What is the hallmark of a great comms agency?

Good agencies have a base of solid, long-term clients alongside exciting new business wins. Flow has serviced some of its clients for longer than a decade. Also, great agencies retain their staff. People stay because the work stimulates them. They stay because they are valued, rewarded and motivated. The best agencies are a mix of brilliance and stability; creative genius and solid service. They’re a rarity, but they are out there.

Describe a typical day?

I like to get into the office nice and early to get a head start on the day. My mornings start with a cup of coffee. Then it’s a mixed bag of managing debtors, creditors and cash flow, punctuated by colleague queries, phone calls and emails demanding my attention. I try really hard to be systematic and ring-fence tasks, finishing one before starting another. But it’s often easier said than done. Mostly I’m disciplined about time management. One has to be.

What’s the best thing about working in a communications and marketing agency environment?

I work with fantastic people – my colleagues are clever, creative and fun. Also, the atmosphere at Flow is relaxed and friendly. It’s a great mix of creative energy and steely determination to deliver great work on time and within budget.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The numbers aren’t up for debate – there are absolutely no grey areas. It’s this that I love. I solve problems, and the answers I give – whether people like them or not – are always right. Finance is science, it’s empirical. The balance sheets and profit and cost statements are reliable. They give the data on which important business decisions are made. They are at the heart of it all.

What’s your secret to work/life balance?

I compartmentalise. When I’m in the office, I’m all business. But when I walk out the door to go home, I leave my work behind me. I have a large family by today’s standards. My four children are aged nine to 14 and include a pair of 10-year-old twins. I adore my children and I love spending time with them.

What do you do during your downtime?

We travel. You’ll often find us away for weekends. Mostly, it’s short trips close to home: the Magaliesberg or eastern Free State. Our last trip was to Durban: sun, sea, sand. We pack up the car and go. New places to discover and new friends to make – that’s the Moyo family creed. It’s good to escape the city and get out into the country to breathe the fresh air and take a break from home. And it guarantees quality time together as a family.

What would your second career choice have been if finance had not worked out?

Town planning. I like systems that work. I think I would have been a great town planner.

What’s your one wish for South Africa?

An economy that’s in positive growth. When we manage to turn the economy around, everything will go better for all of us: personally and in our businesses, too.

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