August 20th, 2012 was my first day working for Henry Abram & Sons Ltd. The office was a Sandstone townhouse on Sandyford Place, Charing Cross and felt so familiar as I had spent 16 years working only a few streets away, in the exact same style of office, with my previous employer.
To take you back a stage, I remember arriving for my interview and being greeted by a young waistcoat wearing male receptionist – only to later discover he was the IT guy – and feeling slightly overdressed, as the guys I glimpsed beyond the hatch in the wall were all very casually dressed in jeans, t-shirts and, in the case of one of my interviewers, socks but no shoes. That set the tone for the atmosphere in the office – a familiar, comfortable, friendly and very much family-run feel; obviously while remaining ultra-professional and super-efficient!
Henry Abram & Sons at that time were halfway through the, now iconic, aircraft carrier project, so a very busy and successful time for all involved. I took over from Helen who was retiring, and had worked for the Abram brothers, Mike and Steve. The company was going through a period of change when I joined, with the Abram brothers having already set the wheels in motion for their departure from the business and fresh (yes Steve, even you back then!) new Directors already in place. New Directors yes, but not new to the company – as John, Steve and Lindsay had all worked in the business for several years.
So, no Malin Group as we all know it today, but as well as Henry Abram & Sons – Malin Marine Consultants had been established and trading for ten years, with Malin Marine Consultants (Aberdeen) still in its infancy but holding its own predominately in the Oil and Gas sector. Cleanship Solutions had been incorporated at Companies House only three months before I came onboard, but at that point there was no staff base or trading activity – although plenty going on behind the scenes to bring the whole concept to the foreground. We had no HR, Marketing or Procurement functions and most of these roles were being filled by the existing team at Sandyford Place – in one form or another.
A well as all the transactional processing; cash in/cash out; banking; VAT returns; expenses and monthly finance reporting, I was also responsible for processing the monthly payroll in-house, rather than outsourcing as we do now, but with a staff base of approximately 24 across the three business, this was a straightforward process. Although accounting software was used for the bulk of the bookkeeping, A3 ledger books – used to record the cash in and out – had not yet been made redundant (again, another throwback to my early days with my previous employer) and cheques were still handwritten and signed before being posted out to suppliers. A more efficient process was soon introduced and so began the modernisation of the finance function.
Very quickly from me joining the business, it continued to grow, expand and diversify, at quite the rate of knots. Having outgrew 17 Sandyford Place, we moved the expanding Cleanship business next door to number 19, and a team of HASL Engineers decanted across the road to rented offices at Newton Place. This then inspired the Directors to seek out new and improved accommodation for their rapidly expanding headcount and companies! As well as employing more staff with a wide rate of skill set and expertise, we continued to incorporate more companies, with the establishment of the Malin Group as an umbrella to the now substantial set of specialist business units underneath.
Fast forward almost nine years and not only am I now part of a very different finance department – from one woman and her abacus – to a strong team of six including an experienced Finance Director, located in the iconic South Rotunda on the banks of the Clyde. But the friendly, family feel atmosphere remains, built on a keen sense of camaraderie between colleagues, mixed with professionalism and a shared passion for the work we do. The interview may have been a little off-beat all those years ago, but it afforded me the opportunity to join a dynamic, innovative, authentic group of companies that continues to grow in its quest to deliver the very best service and solutions to all their clients – and that I wouldn’t change for the world!