Elizabeth Iyi-Eweka holds the rein as Head, Finance (Controller) at Cars45. She is a value-add driven professional whose competencies cover enterprise solution consulting and integration services, financial reporting, and project management with close to two decades work experience with demonstrable results. Before she joined Cars45, Lizzy had left her golden imprint in organizations that include C2G Consulting, Africa Port Services Ltd, Orxy Computer SystemsWA, and Konga Online Shopping Ltd. In this conversation, Lizzy who has an MBA in Finance from the University of Leicester shares her outlook on life, necessary skills that finance leaders must have and hacks for working with young people.
What was your first role in Finance
This was in 2000 when I worked with a pharmaceutical company in Ikeja, Lagos as a junior account officer. Interestingly in this role, I was thrown into the deep end as I was responsible for all bookkeeping functions and preparing financial reports monthly. My saving grace was that I took on this role after completing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Accounting Technicians Scheme programme. I had wanted to become a pharmacist. I got admission into the University of Ibadan, but I couldn’t proceed further for some reasons. An uncle told me about ICAN and got me the form, that was how my journey to become an Accountant started.
What was your biggest challenge starting out
Having to school and work at the same time was very challenging for me. Glad that I survived.
What does a work day for you look like
Once I get in, I receive updates on outstanding tasks and assignments from my colleagues. I then proceed to tackle pending emails and scheduled meetings for the day. Generally, my work function revolves around providing guidance and leadership to the team and I relish this opportunity to be part of a team that is making change happen. I relate with other business unit heads, management team members and investors to provide support and direction that ensures that the organisation can achieve its business goals and objectives. I provide oversight functions for financial records and transactions to ensure that we extract maximum value.
Go-to hack for managing team members
I actively listen and encourage them to speak up when they have challenges. I am genuinely interested and invested in their progress beyond the four walls of the office. I also take time to encourage and celebrate their achievements (personal and career wins) no matter how small. This has facilitated a convivial relationship built on trust and respect such that they have no issues in seeking my counsel and input on issues that are not even work related at times.
Must-Have skills for every finance leader
To ensure organizational effectiveness, a Finance Leader must be very good at communicating — this is the lifeblood of every engagement that happens. Demonstrating a high level of integrity is very critical and a core value that can’t be negotiated. Thirdly, every leader must be able to see and understand the organization’s big picture — how the business operates, end-to-end so that they can provide the necessary guidance and direction that the business needs to grow and thrive. Lastly, numeracy skills are a must have and a dose of subject matter competence for good measure.
Biggest learning so far in your various roles
Being able to work with different people irrespective of their background, race, age, or what ever differences might exist has been a key and valuable learning. It has shaped and sharpened my people management skills.
I am a go-getter who is very hardworking. I also have a passion for caring about the less privileged.
Be the best at what ever you do and be consistent about it. Make people better than you met them as you strive to add value to every relationship.
Best advice you have ever received in your career
Many years ago, Pastor Yinka Ojo told me to always give more than I receive. Do more than you are been paid to do. This doesn’t have to be money. It could be your investment in people or in terms of knowledge sharing or your time. This is the best way to grow.
What was the motivation for founding The Satisfied Soul Initiative
Starting the Satisfied Soul Initiative, TSSI in May 2018 is a living testimony to my life’s philosophy about adding colour and value to the lives of others. The initiative was birthed from my passion to impact people’s life positively having faced huge challenges earlier on in life. Our interventions areas are in education and health.
We have seen young kids who are brilliant but their access to education has been impeded. So, what we do is to provide sponsorship for exams that include Junior and Senior WAEC, JAMB and school fees for their tertiary education. We currently have 4 people being fully sponsored in tertiary education. We also provide uniforms and books to students in public schools. We carry out medical outreach initiatives in our immediate environment where we provide consulting, treatment and drugs free of charge to the less privileged ones.
Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre is a leader I respect and admire.
What’s your all-time favourite book, tv show and film
Two books stand out for me — Tough times never last, but tough people do by Robert H Schuller and Execution — The discipline of getting things done by Ram Charan and Lawrence Bossidy