It’s been quite a journey for our bilingual native Englishman with dual British/German nationality and 30 years corporate experience in Germany. From investment banking to managing all aspects of Manning Global’s financial health as CFO, here’s Leigh A. Hooper’s story so far…
Firstly, what’s it like to be working remotely – how has your routine / workflow changed?
Actually, very little has changed because over the last 15 years I have worked mainly from my office at home.
Any advice for people working remotely?
I think this way of working is here to stay so we all have to adapt our mindsets. If possible, having a separate space is important so that you can at least close the door on your work activity at the end of the day.
From investment banking to CEO of Activa Resources AG to owning Peak Consulting GmbH, acting on behalf of Manning Global, please could you provide a three sentence summary of your career so far…
Career 1: investment banker, mainly at Barclays Bank and Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt. Career 2: CEO of Activa Resources AG, a listed german holding company. Career 3: providing CFO services to German companies with international operations.
How long have you worked for Manning Global as Group CFO?
Since October 2019.
What made you choose a career in Finance?
It was my second choice. My teenage years were all geared to becoming a British Airways pilot. Unfortunately, BA closed its flight training school just when I wanted to go there. So I went to University instead and did a business degree.
How has COVID-19 impacted your sector?
CFO’s are a bit like doctors – the need for a good one never goes away! Seriously though, looking at Manning Global, the impact has been nil. As an established provider of staffing solutions, primarily to the telecoms sector, we see that our clients remain very busy rolling out 5G networks across the globe. With its global footprint, Manning Global is set for further growth.
What does your role at Manning Global mostly entail?
Well, it’s very diversified. In a nutshell, Manning Global has 16 subsidiaries across the globe, all owned by Manning Global AG in Munich. So effectively, we are running 16 separate businesses. There is a lot of invoicing and accounting, preparing of accounts, inter-company business and from that financial planning requirements. And, of course, the business has to be funded. So, I work on that too. But I have to say that this only works because of a fantastic finance team located across the group. It’s a major team effort.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role at Manning Global?
Two things: I love managing the financial intricacies of the Manning subsidiaries across the globe.
Secondly, working alongside CEO Rachael Manning and with the finance team is a lot of fun, but perhaps more importantly I find that being trusted to just get the job done is very rewarding.
What qualities do you need to succeed as a CFO for Manning Global?
They are numerous but I think the most important thing is the experience of working in various finance-related positions over many years. There is little I haven’t done in terms of managing companies as Board Member, CEO/CFO/Managing Director or Non-Executive Director, mainly in Germany but also in the US/UK. And having been on both sides of the fence – on the corporate and advisory sides – is a big advantage.
You don’t only work for Manning Global. How does that work?
That’s right. I also act as CFO to billwerk GmbH in Frankfurt, a young and very dynamic SaaS startup in Frankfurt. I provide a very tailor-made service to both companies. It works because of great finance departments!
As a native Englishman living in Germany for the last 30 years, what made you make the change? Plus, any tips for fellow Brits looking to sample a new country/culture before Brexit?
I was working as a trainee at Deutsche Bank in London and was hired away by a small bank in Frankfurt in the late 80’s (yes, I go back that far!). Two things happened: I met my future wife and the Berlin wall came down. Two events that made Germany the most interesting place to be on the planet. Nothing has changed. Advice for the young in the UK: get out of the English comfort zone, learn a language or three, get abroad and discover what’s out there. You’ll never be disappointed. And you can always go back.
Great advice! Who do you look up to the most? (Both professionally and personally)
Singer/songwriters – the list is long.
What will you do in your next life?
Be a musician.
If you could listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974)
What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” (my grandmother).
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I love sailing “Dulcibella”, my 1964 mahogany daysailer on Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. But I also like slinging my Stratocaster over my shoulder and cranking up the amp. Or just noodling on my collection of acoustic guitars.
Finally, what is your life motto?
KBO: “Keep Buggering On” (Winston Churchill)