Our CFO – Not Your Average Chief
Joining the construction group Civilex, Conset and Grampians Excavations alongside Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Nicholas Murdoch is recently appointed Nabeel Sadaka, the group’s first Chief Executive Officer (CEO). As our ‘chiefs’ both Nabeel and Nick play leading roles in building on the success of Civilex, Conset and Grampians group and its future legacy.
CFO Nick oversees the financials of the group including everything from financial planning and forecasting, record-keeping, risk management to data analysis and reporting. Nick has been with the Civilex group for 12 months and has demonstrated his high-level financial management acumen and process delivery.
As CEO Nabeel is charged with leading the group – overseeing the executive team, company developments and its overall public image. Nabeel is a proven leader in the construction industry with a vision for the framework and direction of our organisation’s activities and its people. He has a broad range of experience and is skilled at communicating and influencing a diverse range of people.
Our chiefs’ collective experience and knowledge across many of the moving parts of the group cannot be underestimated. With the group recently experiencing unprecedented growth – and with multiple expansion opportunities on the horizon – it’s time to share where our chiefs have come from (read Our CEO article here) and what makes them not your average chief executives.
Nicholas Murdoch is not your average CFO.
Nick has been a CFO for more than 18 years and while he still maintains his commitment in staying on top of his professional financial role, he’s also actively engaged with staying healthy with regular early-morning workouts at local F45 gym and winter weekends spent on the ski slopes. Nick also involves himself in a range of social causes, putting his hand up regularly to volunteer his time in making a difference to others.
Success has a lot to do with Nick’s positive outlook on life and just getting on with it. He’s a calming influence an environment of numbers and stays true to his focus and friendliness. Nick is passionate about his team, sharing views and insights on improving financial processes that help deliver results – in all areas of his life.
Nick chose a different path from what many fresh, aspirational accounting graduates often do. Instead of entering the professional services with one of the ‘Big Four’, Nick pursued a more hands-on career that involved industry immersion. Landing at Pacific Brands (Dunlop) – who at the time had 30 trading divisions – Nick commenced his financial career and where his understanding of being ‘lost in the numbers’ was borne.
“I worked at the head office under the CFO and Financial Manager during a time of immense change. We were implementing accounting software changes from a mainframe architecture to being PC based. The days of accounting forms being faxed through to a data entry person to manually key in were numbered. We were overwhelmed and literally lost in the numbers.”
It was throughout this change at Pacific Brands that Nick learned the value of the process. His experience of following a process from start to end was like learning the alphabet. Process was to become a lesson in the finance game that would stay with Nick throughout his career, and one he chooses to utilise today.
In the 1990s Nick was given an opportunity to move to Shenzhen, in southern China and work under his mentor at shoe manufacturer Grosby Footwear. “There were initially a lot of nerves around shoe deliveries being dispatched from a newly built factory in China – Mother’s Day slippers are no good two days late!” It was three years living in a Special Economic Zone compound and travelling throughout southern China and Hong Kong that Nick came to fully understand the nature of being a process-driven accountant and its payoffs. “There is a logical approach and answer to every financial step. Of course, sometimes mistakes are made but the value is in the reasoning around numbers and being able to articulate how that number was created. That is the greatest benefit in understanding a business’ finances.”
Nick returned home to Australia with a level of financial understanding and business shrewdness that many peers didn’t receive so early on in their careers. “China was a hot pot of key learnings for me from a change and process perspective. I feel that if I had have stayed in Melbourne, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the financial learnings and opportunities that I got in China.”
Welcome to Civilex
Nick joined Civilex as Chief Financial Officer in July 2018, after six years with Icon Construction. His previous experience as CFO across both property and construction businesses would be a direct benefit for overseeing the financials of construction group Civilex, Conset, Grampians Excavations and property development business Incore Developments.
Nick leads a diverse financial team that places service at the core of their daily work. “The finance department is geared up to be a service centre to our construction teams and our aim is to add value wherever we can. We’re focused on fostering a high level of confidence with our supplier base through a consistent approach. I live by my mantra – you can never underestimate the power of process.”
And if you think being a CFO is only about the numbers, think again. “Of course, we’re working with numbers all the time, but our role is not just about numbers. We look back and forward – providing explanation and reasoning to the numbers. It’s efficient management practice that can be best summed up as our ‘better business sensibility’ approach.”
While Nick celebrates his first-year anniversary with the group, he shares that the culture at the construction and property development group is a positive mix of being rewarded for hard work coupled with an equal measure of fun. “We’re a group moving in the same direction led by diversely skilled directors who are open to new ideas, happy to be challenged and eager to celebrate milestones together.”