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Mary Kelman – UK Group Financial Controller at Peterson

Read our latest interview with our colleague Mary Kelman, UK Group Financial Controller, who shares her career story with us. Mary discusses the various roles she’s held since joining Peterson, how the company has progressed over the years and what makes Peterson a unique company to work for.

Describe your time with the company and how your role has progressed so far?

I joined the company in April 2001. At that time, it was SBS Logistics Ltd and there were only around 60 employees in the company, in comparison to around 600 now. I came in as a Senior Accounts Assistant, at which point there were only three of us in the Accounts Team plus the Finance Director. My role has since progressed, first to Management Accountant through to Financial Controller and now UK Group Financial Controller and we have grown a huge amount as a team encompassing both SSC and Finance. Throughout my time with the company, my work has remained varied - no two years have ever been the same, even though accountancy is usually quite repetitive, which is due to the rapid expansion and development that the company has gone through. My role has always been interesting and challenging, which has kept me motivated and committed.

How has the company changed since you’ve joined?

Soon after I joined the company, we began to grow very quickly. We took on more sites including Heysham, Great Yarmouth and Sellafield, whilst the Quayside developed considerably, both north and south of the harbour. We’ve grown on a global scale, from Peterson UK, to the wider Peterson Offshore Group, now with several international offices. The portfolio businesses have all brought diversity which makes us stronger as a company and allows us to challenge others in the industry. Expanding our offering has allowed us to become more sustainable as a business and develop longevity. It’s been great to have the opportunity to grow with the company and see it develop.

Do you have any projects that you’ve worked on during your time with the company which you have particularly enjoyed?

One of the initiatives that I have been involved with organising and particularly like is the staff family fun day. A lot of our operations run 24/7, so the employees who work in those departments spend a lot of time away from their families. Every year, we have a family fun day which helps to bring everyone together and gives us the opportunity to thank the families for their commitment to the company. We’ve managed to keep that going even through challenging times (until the COVID-19 pandemic) and I think it’s a great way to show our appreciation for the work our colleagues do.

What do you think we do as a company to encourage employees to remain committed over a long period of time?

I feel that within the company there’s a sense of connectivity. People have the opportunity to contribute and make their ideas heard through various working groups from all areas of the business coming together, which has been a success factor for us. The level of accessibility we have to the senior management team is quite unusual for a company our size. There have been times when a director or senior manager would go and have a cup of coffee and a chat with the guys in the bothy and that connection between operational staff and senior management is what helps build loyalty, trust and is something that would be good to see continue into the next phase of Peterson’s growth. It’s all about diversity, treating people the right way and recognising that we are all part of something we want to belong to. I think that the longevity within the staff is a testament to the quality and commitment that they deliver, as well as the attitude and philosophy behind the company.

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