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Carol Collins
Group Financial Controller, CRH Europe - Products and Distribution, based in the Netherlands.

How long have you been in your current position? 4 months.

What exactly does your job involve? Briefly describe a typical day. Are there substantial differences between the range and scale of your work now and before?
I work as part of the Group Finance team in the European Products and Distribution division which is responsible for financial control, co-ordination and overall financial support for the entire division.

The job varies enormously and no two days are the same. I have responsibility for management reporting, financial planning, budgeting and the European consolidation process together with the brief for development and maintenance of the underlying systems.

The role also includes management of the treasury function for the group and co-ordination of tax issues across borders. Apart from day to day issues, I am involved with the development and acquisition team based at the European Head Office, near Rotterdam, where the work is very diverse and covers the whole gamut from finding suitable targets and making the proposal to being involved in due diligence work and closing the deal.

The team is responsible for ensuring a rapid and structured integration process, which together with providing training and support to ongoing operations requires regular visits to the operating companies, throughout Europe.

The variety of work I do now is quite similar to my previous role but on a significantly larger scale.

What was your initial reaction when you were offered this position abroad?
Having recently completed a 7 month round-the-world trip, I was actively seeking a very specific career opportunity and was extremely fortunate that fortuitous timing contributed to my being offered a position with CRH in my country of choice, The Netherlands.

How does your operation fit strategically within the overall group’s business?
CRH operates on a decentralised basis, each of its four divisions having a high degree of individual responsibility and local autonomy. Europe Products and Distribution is a pan-European group created following the reorganisation of the European operations of CRH in 1998. Its activities comprise 2 of the 3 core business activities of CRH being added value building products and distribution. The division operates from over 30 strategic business units with a presence in 10 countries employing 9200 people. In 1999 Europe Products and Distribution was the second largest contributor to Group net sales.

Looking back, how close is Ireland to the cutting edge of financial services?
While Dublin has always had strong sophisticated financial institutions in its own right, the advent of the IFSC has enabled us to move onto a bigger stage and participate more actively; in particular in the area of investment funds. The significant skills base available together with the infrastructure providing services to these funds are self-perpetuating and so hopefully we will see both stability and longevity in this sector.

What’s the worst thing about being abroad? I miss the hills and the Irish landscape from Beara to Ballintoy. I also miss the richness of language; communication is at a more fundamental level a new country until the nuances are absorbed. And, of course, I miss being in close proximity to my family and friends.

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