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Alice  Heezen-Dokianos

  • Programme: Finance for Non-Finance Executives
  • Nationality: Dutch
  • Job Post-programme: Head of Human Resources - Europe, ADAMA Agricultural Solutions Ltd

Professional background:

Alice has a Masters degree in Social and Organisational Psychology and has held various HR and business management roles with international companies. She has worked in the US, Asia, France, Benelux, Italy and the UK. Alice joined Fiberweb in January 2010 as Head of HR and Change and was a member of the Executive Management Committee. She attended the Financial Seminar for Senior Managers programme in September 2011.

Making the best decision

I was responsible for managing the overall provision of HR services, policies, and programmes for Fiberweb – at both an operational and strategic level. As Head of HR and Change, I advised senior managers from across the company on all HR issues, and this included putting forward bonus and incentive scheme proposals to the Board.

With no financial background, I wanted to gain a greater understanding of the company’s financial position in order to provide more comprehensive recommendations. I also wanted to be able to interpret our financials – the balance sheet, income statements and cash flow – so that I could contribute to discussions with executive directors and nonexecutive directors about actions and priorities to improve the performance of the business.

The Financial Seminar for Senior Managers programme at London Business School was exactly what I was looking for. It is a practical-oriented programme that allows you to interact with an international group of senior managers from mixed backgrounds.

Growing confidence

The programme was intensive and very challenging – after the first day I didn’t think I would understand any more theory, but over time my confidence grew. The initial basic overview of accounting definitely helped with the rest of the programme, providing a solid grounding for what was to come. I was familiar with the terminology, as I’d previously been on a programme for non-financial managers, but I still felt that I was looking through mud. The highlight of the programme came when I could see how all the different accounting elements were linked with one another and everything suddenly became clear.

One of the business cases focused on how to choose which products you really wanted to prioritise – that was a particularly good experience as I’ve never been involved in that kind of exercise before.

The class was made up of a very large group, which initially seemed daunting, but the group work and programme delivery gave us time to really interact with one another. It was a real privilege to study alongside such a diverse group of fellow senior managers. The case studies were based on excellent research and delivered by first-class tutors.

Improved business relationships

When I returned to work, I was able to have discussions with the board about the performance measures we were going to use for the bonus schemes and the long-term incentives – something that I couldn’t have done before. We chose three measures instead of two for the incentives; I was much more involved in the process and it was clearer to me why the board was buying into the proposal. I felt I had more influence.

The programme had given me more confidence, not just in my HR role, but also in contributing to decision making across the company. My relationships with the MDs, CEO and the Group Finance Director had improved and I felt like a business partner.