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Getting to know our new CFO, Damon Kelly

Last month we welcomed a new CFO into the Splendid team, Damon Kelly. Previously group CFO at Frank, Damon joins us at an exciting time as we drive forward ambitious growth plans for the agency, and his appointment has allowed our amazing former Finance Director, Jane Latham, to move into her new role as Head of Wellbeing (more on that coming soon!) 

Starting at a new company can be strange when everyone is working from home, so we wanted to steal a bit of Damon’s time to get to know him better. 

Welcome, Damon! It’s great to have you with us. How have you been settling in? 

Well, thank you! The Splendid mantra of people first really does shine through. Everyone has been very welcoming, making it an easy transition. I wasn’t sure if starting a new role in lockdown would have difficulties with not being together in person, but the virtual interaction has made it a smooth process. 

We hear you’re from Sydney, what do you miss the most and what made you relocate to rainy England? 

I initially came over to see the sights and travel around Europe, ideally making some money on the way. To be honest, when I walked out of Heathrow into the cold on a summer’s day, I wasn’t sure I’d last through the winter. But sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and many years later here I still am, with five kids and happily married to a Brit, I’m feeling truly settled hereOf course, I miss Sydney – mainly family, and of course the weather. 

Tell us a bit about how you landed within the PR and comms industry 

I landed here by chance.  When the money ran out from travelling, I fell into contract finance roles in various different industries, with the final contract being in PR.  From there I landed a permanent role at a consumer PR agency, and now I’m excited to be at Splendid in a business with a great buzz that I enjoy.  

Did you always see yourself within finance and as a CFO? What do you enjoy most about your role as CFO? 

When deciding what career path to take, I narrowed it down to finance or lawyer. Through research, I discovered that I could potentially have aspects of both if I took the CFO route. Being a CFO isn’t always just about reviewing the numbers; for me, it’s a strategic role that includes legal, such as contracts, and many other key operational areas such as HR and technology At Splendid I’m already included in conversations ranging from staff welfare to M&A which is great! The part I enjoy the most is achieving goals – whether that be financial targets, finalising contracts, implementing strategy or whatever else I’m working on. 

What drew you to the role at Splendid?  

I was drawn to Splendid as I could see it was an excellent team with a strong leadership foundation and a clear vision. I was also incredibly impressed by the ‘people first’ ethos that runs throughout the business and I’m very happy to now be one of the team. 

What are your short- and longer-term ambitions at Splendid? What do you hope to achieve in your role?  

To put it simply: Growth. Splendid has great foundations and I’m looking forward to working closely with Alec and the team to build on that. 

As you know, we’re really into music here at Splendid – what are your top 5 tunes of all time?

I have to say Men at Work – Down Under, Jimmy Barnes – Working Class Man, Commitments – Mustang Sally, Bon Jovi – Living on a Prayer, and currently listening to a lot of American Country. 

It still gives me a lift when I hear Down Under. I could list a load of Aussie tunes from yesteryear but everyone at Splendid seems quite cool so it’s probably best I don’t embarrass myself. 

If you’re not working, where/what will we find you doing?  

I try to keep fit (I say try), hang out with the kids and generally do whatever they or my wife tell me to do. 

The one piece of advice you would share with anyone looking to establish themselves within a finance role at a PR agency.  

Embrace the agency culture. Be yourself.  It’s fine being an accountant and it is a vital role, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like the stereotypical ‘number cruncher’. 

What are you looking forward to the most when we return to the office? 

Soaking up the atmosphere in person. I’ve heard rumours of a party in the planning for when restrictions are removed, so I guess they’ll need the finance team to sign off that budget.