RE422
 
Financial Controller, Switzerland

ORGANIZATION
Posted: Oct 10, 2005
Meritas International

LOCATION
Geneva, Switzerland

ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND
Meritas International is an early stage, rapidly growing company in the K-12 private education space (nursery to high school). With headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the company is led by a local Broward County private school president who has partnered with Sterling Capital Partners LP of Chicago and Baltimore. Sterling Capital Partners is known for its investment partnership with Sylvan Learning Systems.

Meritas has launched a $500 million international venture to acquire as many as 20 independent programs under the newly formed company, Meritas Schools. With this venture, the company plans to acquire an elite K-12 school in Switzerland and 19 additional schools throughout the world within the next five years. Acquisitions could range from $5 to $75 million depending on the location and size of the school.

Meritas’ mission is to consistently create a quality educational experience for children in the K-12 arena. While each school within Meritas will remain culturally independent, Meritas Schools’ hallmarks will include:

  • Academic excellence that enables each child to realize his/her full potential.
  • Schools and educators within Meritas Schools must be centered on the child’s needs and embrace the notion that during a child’s educational experience, Meritas’ teachers, administrators and staff are their “school parents.”
  • Commitment to educating the whole child combining excellence in academics with diverse extra curricular requirements.
  • Meritas Schools will be run and managed for operational excellence.
  • Meritas Schools will benefit from and leverage the vast network of educational opportunities for students, educators and administrators across all Meritas Schools.

REPORTING RELATIONSHIPS
S/he will report to the CFO Meritas International and the CEO based in Switzerland.

CANDIDATE PROFILE
The Financial Controller Switzerland will have experiences with rapidly growing, international organizations.

The successful candidate should be a financial controller whose career has been characterized by clear patterns of success and achievement in managing controllership and financial planning/analysis functions in a publicly held environment.

Additionally, candidates will have:

  • A track record of proactively applying financial planning and analysis to a broad range of business problems to formulate creative solutions.
  • Experience with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance issues and a strong background in financial accounting, in particular US GAAP reporting, acquired while reporting to a US company.
  • Worked with different technology systems and have the proven ability to implement, leverage and scale the full capabilities of such resources.

The Financial Controller position requires a person who can immediately assume this role and handle the responsibilities of this position with great skill. It is expected that the successful candidate will be a value-added contributor to the further expansion of Meritas International in Europe.

RESPONSIBILITIES
Specific responsibilities include:

  • Take overall responsibility for finance and administration for the Swiss operation, with growth opportunity with Meritas’ expanding business in Europe.
  • Implement consistent financial operating standards and procedures.
  • Strengthen financial discipline of the accounting operations and financial reporting, optimizing existing systems.
  • Be an expert in the finance area, business partner to the Chief Executive Officer and important link with headquarters in the United States. S/he will function as a significant contributor to the change process.
  • Work with the Chief Executive Officer in coordinating the company's strategic planning process. Ensure that efficient and accurate financial forecasting, planning and budgeting systems are in place.
  • Direct the preparation of realistic operating budgets and management reports on a monthly basis. Coordinate critical and ongoing financial analysis activities of the company's European operations focusing on cost containment and asset maximization.
  • Analyze and interpret relevant financial data to the Chief Executive Officer, other line managers and the Board of Directors. Develop financial performance measurements and make appropriate recommendations.
  • Manage tax planning and reporting activities and serve as liaison with regulatory authorities in Switzerland.
  • Maintain a system of internal controls and audit procedures including managing the company's relationship with its outside audit firm.

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS
The Financial Controller, Switzerland must be a highly entrepreneurial and proactive hands-on team player with outstanding interpersonal and communication skills (both oral and written).

S/he has a strong tactical experience and is mature and diplomatic. Previous experience gained ideally in a multinational environment, which has included implementation of change and new processes.

Additionally, ideal candidates will:

  • Be flexible and comfortable with the task of building the infrastructure for a rapidly growing organization.
  • Be an outgoing leader with an open, participative and hands-on management style and the ability to get things done in a lean and rapidly growing environment. Function as a team player with the ability to work with and through others in the organization.
  • Be an executive with the high level of personal and professional integrity expected and required in a Financial Controller.
  • Have a high degree of common sense in all dealings. The ability and finesse to work across cultures, with a variety of constituents and inspire trust.
  • Have an orientation towards continuous business process improvement and operational excellence. Strong service orientation and international outlook.
  • Have the ability to address unsatisfactory performance clearly, decisively and constructively in her/ his prior positions.

EDUCATION
A bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance from an accredited college or university and/or a CPA; MBA and/or advanced degree a plus.

LANGUAGES
Fluency in French and English.

COMPENSATION
Compensation will consist of a competitive base salary, annual incentive bonus and other components.

*****

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