The high flyer

Dec 03, 2018
Lucinda Woods ACA, the 2018 winner of the Early Career Accountant of the Year Award, shares her success story.

Describe your current role at The Restaurant Group plc.

The Restaurant Group plc operates over 500 casual dining restaurants, pubs and concessions across the UK. It employs roughly 15,000 people and is listed on the FTSE with a market capitalisation of around £500 million. I’m lucky to have a very diverse role within the group. I work for the CEO, managing a team that spans group strategy, commercial decision support, customer and market insight, and M&A. The breadth of my role has enabled me to support many strands of the turnaround of our casual dining division, as well as run deals such as the £15 million acquisition of the 11-pub company, Food & Fuel Ltd., and work on business development opportunities in our concessions division, which manages foodservice operations at airports. I also served as Interim Chief Marketing Officer last year, which was a great development opportunity for me, landing outputs on digital, brand strategy and retail marketing operations.

Describe your average working week.

I get up at 4.30am on Monday to commute to London and I fly back to Dublin on Thursday evening in time to put my son to bed. Fridays are spent catching up on things at home, and the occasional visit to the gym!

How did you feel when you were announced as the Early Career Accountant of the Year?

Humbled. There was a strong bench of talent nominated for the award so to be called out amongst that was an honour. 

What in your view gave you the advantage over your peers?

A combination of factors have enabled me to pursue my career ambitions and constantly challenge the boundaries of my comfort zone. From an early age, my parents inspired me to seek out opportunities and my husband has always been very supportive of my career choices and travel commitments. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of the organisations I worked with earlier in my career – KPMG, Investec Corporate Finance and Paddy Power Betfair – as management across all three provided me with tremendous encouragement and support. In addition, I’ve been supported by superb peers and mentors including my boss, who has been generous with his time, always encouraged me to focus on the customer and areas where I can have the most impact, and shown faith in me to do that. I’ve also been lucky to have many talented people work for me, and from whom I have also learned an enormous amount.

You have also studied at Harvard. What was that experience like?

I was fortunate to do the MBA programme at Harvard Business School. The experience of being surrounded by so many diverse and interesting perspectives was invaluable. I was also taught by many outstanding professors, including Michael Porter and Clay Christensen.

What’s next for you?

Nappies and sleepless nights! Our family headcount is about to increase with a new baby due in early 2019.

Lucinda Woods is Strategy & Business Development Director at The Restaurant Group plc.