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Real Business : Winter 2008
REAL BUSINESSISSUE2,2008 13 Matthew Durbin asa general manager of strategic planning david jones Matthew Durbin never wanted to be an accountant in the strict sense. at 16, as a department store shop floor casual, he loved the diversity of day-to-day operations, particularly meeting customers. his passion for retailing has endured, through uni, an Mba and now his CPa. he’s worked for both major department store chains, David Jones and “the other one”, and been promoted into new roles every two years. at 23 he was a store sales manager, running a business that turned over $20 million, with a sales and service team of 60. Later he focused on planning and project roles in merchandise buying, with the ultimate responsibility of ensuring around $1.5 billion of goods annually were in the right store at the right time. now, as David Jones’ general manager of strategic planning, Durbin has been developing a detailed four-year financial plan leading the company’s entire senior management team through a complete investigation of opportunities, from opening new stores – there are currently 34 – to refurbishment of stores and identifying cost efficiencies. there are 74 new efficiency initiatives now in place across the business. “Planning time horizons makes retail exciting,” says Durbin, 35. “as a trading business we get regular feedback on daily and weekly performance. then we have to identify whether the results are due to short-term impacts that demand immediate tactical action or indicate a long-term trend, which may mean a fundamental change to our inventory buying and cost plans.” David Jones has 200 finance and planning roles, and Durbin’s has delivered the variety he hankered for. what advice does he offer those considering a career in retail? “start on the shop floor. with a business degree and three years of retail experience, you’re a good candidate for any entry-level finance and planning role. Your first year’s salary may not match a vanilla accounting job’s, but with good performance within five to 10 years you’ll have made up for it in spades.”
Issue 3 2008