Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer: Canada Goose
Jonathan Sinclair graduated in Business Administration with French in 1984. Here, he talks about his former role at Jimmy Choo as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President and his career so far.
I had a passion for languages – particularly French - and wanted to find a course where I could combine it with my professional interest in finance and commerce. There were few such courses, and this was actually the original course of its type in the UK, founded by Keith Lockyer (who went on to establish a similar course at Bradford) and led by Professor John Sizer a past president of CIMA (ICMA in those days).
I have always been very proud of being a Loughborough graduate and felt the pragmatic style of the course established me well for my career.
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study in the School of Business and Economics?
Try and get a fix early on for what is really going to interest you, and then mould the course you enter progressively to fit your ambition. It will help you massively when you start out in a role in business.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?
I was Treasurer (unsurprisingly) of Singers and Light Opera (where I played one of the leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience) as well as the usual film club memberships which we all did in those days. It gave me a real outlet for something other than the focused hard work with which we all had to deal.
I always knew I was interested in finance and retail, from an innate interest early in my weekend jobs from age 14 to my vacation roles to a developing passion at University. So when it came to my sandwich year I worked in a nationalised industry in finance (which confirmed my interest in the private sector!) and after I graduated I went to Boots to work in retail finance, imagining I would be there for two years.
Let’s just say they kept me interested and I was there for 19 years, rising through the finance function to Finance Director of a DIY retail business owned by Boots by age 30 and moving on to lead finance in a number of other businesses both retail and FMCG. This culminated in two years as Finance Director of Boots UK and Ireland where I also led one of the largest store refit programmes the UK had seen.
Then opportunity came knocking and I decided to move to a family business (Pentland Brands plc) based back in London, where I grew up. This introduced me to fashion and allowed me to expand my remit over a number of functions including IT and Logistics. After 5 happy years there, I decided to move on and this time it was to Jimmy Choo.
I joined Jimmy Choo as Chief Operating Officer in its third private equity incarnation (under TowerBrook Capital Partners LP) and helped steer it through the financial crisis in 2009 before leading it through the strategic review which culminated in the sale to JAB in 2011. After a year of integration I took up a similar role elsewhere in luxury before returning to Jimmy Choo to lead the IPO as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President in 2014.
I lead finance globally facing both the Street (City), our Non-Executive Directors and of course the business and its stakeholders. I lead finance, strategy, IT, legal and investor relations, ably assisted by a really strong team.
I have a real passion for and understanding of the business as well as delivering on the expected financial and strategic metrics and it is infectious.
I am at the stage in my career where I just what to do interesting things and working overseas from the UK in a global role in a sector I love and which has been a career passion was, well, on my career “bucket list”!
Apart from being very numerate and passionate about retail, I like the breadth of finance. Nothing is off limits and you are across everything.
That said, I do sometimes wonder if my first lecture had not been with the visiting lecturer who was the passionate president of the ACCA (Alan Pizzey) who was so passionate and excited about double entry, whether things might have taken a different course…I still keep his book on my shelf.
Far too many to mention. I guess I would single out three.
- My time at Jimmy Choo has undoubtedly been the best.
- Being the co-pilot of (any) business takes a lot of beating (unless you are the pilot of course).
- And hiring great talent – seeing them develop and move on to great roles, either in my home team (here at Jimmy Choo) or into other senior finance roles in the market place.
We have now sold the business to Michael Kors Holdings Limited which is undoubtedly a great and hopefully permanent home for the business. We are going to be very busy running the business and transitioning it into that new ownership for the foreseeable future and then we’ll see. My career bucket list still has plenty left to check, not to mention my private one, although I do think my singing days are over!