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Meet the Power Technique Team - Paula Laren

As Atlas Copco celebrates 100 years in the UK, we get to know our team better and share some memories of Atlas Copco over their careers

Our current Year in Industry student, George, has been interviewing members of the Power Technique Team to gather some memories and some insight into why Atlas Copco stands the test of time.

Paula Laren

Paula Laren

What is your current role at Atlas Copco?
I am the Business Controller for Atlas Copco Power Technique in the UK.

What does that role entail?
I oversee the finance department and am responsible for all the financial reporting that we send back to the group. I also provide any financial analysis that the management team need to make decisions. A big part of my job is also forecasting - we don’t do budgets at Atlas Copco, but instead we look ahead, this means setting both short-term and long-term objectives and targets. We then continuously monitor how we are performing against them. I also manage the credit control team, they are so crucial to our business as they are responsible for bringing the money in.

Your role is so vast, is there a particular part you like most?
I love all of it! I really like the challenge of it. It’s all about making the right decisions, often under time pressure. You must be able to communicate clearly and give a quick answer, rather than getting too bogged down in details - you need to get straight to the point. The General Manager isn’t interested in the answers being down to the decimal, but he or she will want to know if we are doing well, or not. Are we more profitable today, or are we not?
I really like the problem-solving side of it too, but what I think I enjoy the most is putting together a good team. I am very proud of the team that I’ve got now; they are all experts in their field and I rely a lot on their knowledge and experience. A lot of my job is about supporting and developing them further.

How long have you been working for Atlas Copco?
Quite a long time! I have been here for fourteen years now. I started on a summer internship in Sweden after university and have had quite a few different roles in finance before landing here.

What other roles have you had?
When I started at Group headquarters I was working on the annual report and the consolidated financial reporting for the whole of the Atlas Copco Group. It was a great learning experience and very intense! I worked just about every weekend around reporting time - lots of weekends and finishing at midnight. I was offered a full-time job at group once I finished my internship but I wanted to see more of the operational side. I moved to the UK and started in the shared accounting department. I went from dealing with millions of Swedish kronor to checking expense receipts for £10! It was a weird transition, but also very useful to see all aspects of the finance role.
By then I knew I wanted to become a business controller so when the assistant business controller role came up in what was then called Construction & Mining, I applied immediately.
In the business controller role I have seen many changes to our company. We have done both acquisitions, re-organisations and divestments plus many more projects - there is always something happening and that makes it a challenging job. That works for me because I like the problem solving that comes with change.

What’s been your favourite memory since joining Atlas Copco?
The ACT implementation. It was quite stressful and challenging at the time as it was such a fundamental change to all our systems and processes. It was all about motivating people to embrace the new system and re-learn a big part of their jobs. That was probably the hardest thing, but what was also very rewarding was when you saw people shine and really embrace the system. You put them in a tough situation, and rather than complaining, they just jumped into the challenge. Many of those people later went on to become managers or teamleaders. I’ve also enjoyed the acquisitions we’ve done as they are a bit more financially complicated and put you out of your comfort zone.

Which Power Technique product would you best describe yourself as?
I would see myself as a Fleetlink GPS navigator, because I tell the management where we are and where we are going. Our job as business controllers is to be the support system to the business.

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