Chief Financial & Operations Officer - Free Childcare & Equity in high growth educational business

London (City of), London (Greater)
£50,000-£60,000 plus equity and free childcare optional
13 Jun 2018
13 Jul 2018
Contract Type

Title: Chief Financial & Operations Officer

Reports To: Chief Executive Officer and Board of Directors

Works with: Senior Executive Team

Subordinates: Direct Line Managerial Responsibility:

Finance Manager - transactions and bank reconciliation / credit control

Central office personnel including HR & Recruitment Administrators, Marketing Officers & Office Managers

Nursery Administrators

Secondary Line managerial responsibility:

Nursery Managers & educational staff

Start Date: ASAP

Salary: 50k-60k depending on experience and qualifications plus equity pool share TBD

Benefits: Free childcare available

Location: Barbican, City of London

Probation: 6 months

Notice period: 3 months post probation

Holiday: 25 days excluding bank holidays

Working Hours: 0900-1800, with 1 hour lunch unpaid

Type: Full Time / Permanent but with part time options available 

Progression: Board Appointment post-probation

Required Qualifications:

  • Degree: Candidates must have a degree or equivalent.
  • Professional Qualifications: Candidates must hold a relevant professional qualification in accountancy (CIMA / ACA / ACCA). Qualifications in financial management and/or planning would be beneficial to provide rigour and excellence to the financial systems and processes in the business.


  • Accountancy: Candidates will have at least 5 years’ post-qualification experience. Preferably with knowledge of cloud based accountancy systems like Xero
    Industry: Candidates’ financial or operational experience in the Education sector not essential but would be an advantage.



  • Management of the finance function and team.
  • Oversight of all accounting transactions, financial ledgers and financial systems and processes, including payroll.
  • Timely preparation of monthly and quarterly financial reports, budgets, forecasts and cash flows as well as year end accounts.
  • Control over cash, working capital and finance and ensuring this is in line with accurate, timely forecasting
  • Implementing effective systems and controls and ensuring they are maintained.
  • Strategic planning to provide insightful and detailed financial projections / scenario analyses for the board.
  • Responsible for statutory submissions at Companies House
  • Investor & Board Reporting - cashflow analyses, forecasts and scenario analyses


  • Primary responsibility for all areas of business systems and procedures and their improvement.
  • Overseeing of administrative and “back-office” function.
  • Review of current operations and rolling out best-fit solutions across the business.
  • Assisting the CEO with developing an internal culture of quality service and best practice.


  • Strategic Financial Planning / Modelling: Advanced Excel, pivot tables and other forecasting techniques and reporting tools are used to provide insightful and detailed financial projections / scenario analyses for the board.
  • Cloud-based accounting packages / technology: Candidates should be technologically confident and enthusiastic about technological solutions. The business operates paperlessly, and uses a wide range of cloud-based apps. Xero is used as our accounting software and various Google Apps are throughout the business.

Person Specification

You will have strong financial accounting skills, good management and strategic skills, be an excellent team player, highly organised and technologically confident. You will be strategically competent, having a proven track record of meeting objectives and reporting at board level.

About the Company

Hatching Dragons is the UK’s first bilingual Mandarin-English early years provider that aims to help foster fluency in two of the world’s most important languages in nurseries that deliver the highest quality childcare. We are providing something truly different for the children in our care and the families we serve. We offer:

  • A dynamic nursery experience that exposes children to truly inspirational activities and experiences that will stick with them and their families for life;
  • An enriching multicultural focus that will see them develop with an acute level of intercultural understanding, helping prepare them for a more multicultural future;
  • A constant and structured bilingual Mandarin-English delivery that will see the children develop basic fluency in both languages by reception age; and
  • The best quality team that can deliver the safest of environments and the highest quality educational and pedagogical knowledge in the nursery sector.

The business opened its first setting in the Barbican, London, EC1 in 2015 and has since opened two more nurseries in Twickenham and Westminster. Our first two settings secured Ofsted rated Good with Outstanding Features. From these bases, we offer:

  • Full daycare
  • Holiday camps & after school clubs
  • Ad-hoc childcare provision
  • Chinese cultural stay-and-play groups
  • Monthly cultural events to celebrate both Chinese and non-Chinese cultural festivals
  • Educational materials and content for family and children to enjoy

Current Context:

Since then, we’ve received significant interest from Chinese educational groups, private equity houses and real estate developers who all see value in our approach and its potential scalable application to China, which is in itself the fastest growing early years educational market in the world. Negotiations over substantial capital investment into the business is warranting investigation into new revenue lines. Opportunities that are materialising as a result of this interest:

UK Opportunities:

  • Nursery Growth:
    • Organic Nursery Growth through the leasing and development of more sites throughout London or through the freehold acquisition of commercial buildings for the long term provision of the nursery business, funded through Chinese property partners.
    • Potential Nursery acquisition opportunities to purchase nursery businesses in key geographies as part of our strategic growth plan, in place of or in addition to, organic growth
  • Prep-school: Potential prep-school development to provide existing clients with a longer bilingual educational lifecycle for their children here in London. Financed through property acquisition funds set up with Chinese property partners
  • Training: Short term training programmes for Chinese nursery managers and staff in conjunction with British early years educational university partners to seize the opportunity presented by the Department of International Trade and the Chinese Ministry of Education’s recent MOU to foster greater cross border training programmes in the early years sector
  • Holiday Camps & Tour Groups: Short term nursery educational programmes for Chinese children on tour groups and partnership provision for Chinese nursery groups looking to provide value access to Chinese HNW clientele to British educational institutions.
  • School Partnerships: Mandarin After School clubs at partner schools throughout London
  • Recruitment: Developing the demand from Chinese nursery groups into a recruitment revenue generator for the provision of qualified British native speakers into the Chinese early years educational sector.

China Opportunities

  • Franchise / Nursery growth: Expansion into the Chinese market in partnership with potential development partners as a premium provider of high quality early years education at their premium residential developments throughout London
  • International School Partnership: Rolling out pre-school provision and nursery care at China’s premium international and private schools
  • Educational Content Licensing - finalising and digitalising our early years educational methodologies and activity plans to provide

Due to our growth as a startup and our future expansion plans, our business is now at an exciting and critical juncture - we are looking to build a small team of experienced business executives to drive efficiencies in the day-to-day operational management of the business so that the CEO can focus on business development, strategy and raising the capital required to execute. With this role we will be upscaling our management team beyond its current scope to take full ownership of the operational execution of existing business and expansion plans.

Background & Purpose to Role

To realise the new opportunities presenting to the business and to sustain and build growth, the CEO needs to be freed up from back office procedural management to focus on:

  • Strategy (with this candidate being central to the operational strategy of and the implementation of that strategy for the business)
  • Business Development
  • Communications
  • Fund-raising / investor relations
  • Exit scenarios

As such, this role is to assume full control and executive oversight of the business’ back office functions and systems to ensure that the day to day operational management of the business is efficient, procedurally sound and structured for scale. The businesses current CFO is unable to increase her hours to accommodate the increasing responsibilities and challenges of the role, and as such, we need to identify a new candidate to assume her role and expand on her remit.

The role carries with it the below responsibilities to the following portfolio areas:

  1. Strategic / planning considerations of which business systems and procedures could be adopted to improve the way we do things
  2. The operational implementation of those improvements
  3. The training of staff / managers to act as agents to deliver on those business processes efficiently and with minimal margin for error.
  4. On-going Performance Management and Quality Assurance to ensure that staff are adequately supported and deliver on those processes

Key Areas of Responsibility:

FINANCE: Having primary responsibility for all areas of finance within the business, improving systems and efficiencies in finance, working with the full time finance manager to execute:

Strategic Planning

  • Modelling / scenario analyses - working with the CEO to develop forecasts and models / scenarios for monthly board meetings on current business
  • To develop business plans and models for new revenue lines as and when they materialise to assess cost-benefit and levels of return.
  • Reviewing capital and corporate structure of business to generate new ideas of how the business can finance subsidiary trading entities, or develop new structural models that improve potential exit scenarios

Budget & Credit Control

  • Developing Annual and quarterly flex budgets for the business in consultation with nursery managers and central team
  • Reviewing Nursery monthly budget performance with Nursery managers and administrators and isolating cost areas that can be improved
  • Owning and improving transaction management with the Finance Manager & Nursery administrators - reviewing systems and approach to revenue collection, bad debt and our payment terms
  • Owning and improving legal contracts, procurement and supply chain costs and relationships.

Corporate Governance

  • Management Accounts - submitting fully reconciled monthly management accounts for board review to review monthly progress and budget variance
  • To generate quarterly investor reports and updates on business performance.
  • To work with the company accountants in the development of the annual accounts
  • To be responsible for all corporate governance and filing with companies house and the primary point of contact with the Company’s accountants and minute book holder for all board minutes and company resolutions.

Treasury, L.A & Bank

  • Being primary point of contact with bank and taking ownership of how to improve relationships with key funders
  • Reviewing and improving lines of credit and financing lines that can be used to scale the business further
  • Assisting Finance manager on Free Entitlement and State subsidy allocation / transaction



  • Identifying & rolling out systems that track attendance, sickness and holidays and automating deductions in payroll wherever possible (see HR systems)


Having primary responsibility for all areas of business systems and procedures and how they can be improved across all major back office functions outside of finance. The company currently operates in the Google Apps for Business ecosystem but has struggled to develop refined and consistent procedures that can be structured for growth through Google Apps, in terms of how our staff optimally use Google Drive storage / Gmail / Google calendar / and other apps and so needs a review of the systems we use for core functions and how they can be improved either in Google Apps or through new Cloud Based systems that can work well with a nursery / educational environment. This has become increasingly important post GDPR. The candidate will be responsible for all Data points and business systems and so will be the primary point of contact for GDPR


  • Identifying and rolling out an HR SaaS that fits well with our business / training the nursery managers and administrators in its use to cover: On-boarding / induction / probationary management / attendance / holiday & sickness / disciplinary / on-going supervision and CPD / training and integrations with Payroll.
  • Revamping and improving our HR policy and internal communications channels
  • Ensuring that Managers and staff adhere to HR policy and being primary contact for staffing and personnel disputes.


  • Reviewing recruitment systems to optimise applications and cost
  • Develop a strategic recruitment planning culture with nursery managers - forecasting recruitment needs through nursery management systemsWork with nursery administrators to manage and run their own recruitment campaigns through these systems
  • Ensure that Safer Recruitment and Safeguarding are central to policy and procedure

Sales & Marketing

  • Reviewing and revising our standard terms / contracts with parents
  • Reviewing and improving online and offline sales channels and systems - automation where possible
  • Developing and improving CRM / Marketing systems for key stakeholders with the CEO (online and offline)
  • Reviewing digital marketing footprint and developing internal or external capability to extend marketing reach through social media and digital marketing
  • Assisting CEO develop a culture of “content generation and dissemination”
  • Ensuring that all Sales & marketing work is compliant with GDPR


  • Working with the pedagogy Direct and the Pedagogy Development team to create and / or improve how educational content / activity plans are generated and stored for the roll out of our I.P - how do we turn what we do on a daily basis into a database product that we can ultimately leverage value from with Chinese partners. Think text-book or digital product

Culture, Organisation & Internal Comms / Project management:

  • Creating a culture of support and regular meetings
  • Administrative follow through using best practice tech to stay on top of workflow

Person Specification:


  • Financially Competent
  • Diligent
  • Procedurally excellent
  • Highly Organised
  • Administrative
  • Adaptable
  • Energetic
  • Trustworthy
  • Consistent

Demonstrable track Record in:

  • Complex Project Management
  • Systems Set Up
  • Change Management
  • Financial Controls
  • Budget Planning
  • Reporting
  • Effective Personnel Management
  • Leadership
  • Start Up Culture & Environments

We want people who are:

  • The right fit for the business (i.e. understands and is passionate about what we’re trying to achieve);
  • A right fit with the team (i.e. can work in a collegiate and creative way, empowering staff to make things happen and to inspire them by demonstrating a work ethic that sets the standard for them all - above and beyond)
  • An excellent manager (i.e. in delivering the managerial and administrative aspects of the business operation
  • Technologically competent – over time, we aim to be a digitally based business as much as possible so need a manager who can drive positive change in the nursery through leading by example
  • Strategically competent – someone who can see where we are going, help the CEO deliver that vision and identify new business opportunities along the way

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Early years knowledge preferable but not required – better to be technologically forward thinking, adaptable, patient and financially strong
  • Finance & Accountancy – audit, tax, payroll, budget management and enforcement will be key parts of this brief
  • Governance – knowledge of company law will be important as most likely this person will be assuming company secretarial responsibilities
  • Technology – Fintech and other business operations applications that can rationalise and improve the business’ overall performance / delivery

Performance management

This role has specific targets for the candidate to deliver for the business:

  1. Financial Controls - working with the current CFO to assume full and seamless control of the current financial approach. Stability is critical for the business at this point of transition. Candidates will be evaluated on how quickly they can assume control and authority in the financial space, working with the Finance manager to ensure that the transition is seamless.
  2. Business Systems Review - Once embedded, for the candidate to undertake a root and branch review of the business systems, policies and procedures and submit recommendations to the board on systems and process improvements that can be undertaken to streamline activity between staff / business units
  3. Implementation - to then successfully implement changes with staff support and engagement - working with nursery managers and administrators to deliver training where necessary and to simplify processes wherever possible.
  4. Reduction in CEO’s operational remit - really evaluated by the effectiveness in reducing the CEO’s operational workload / responsibilities
  5. Positive Staff Feedback - It is fundamental to the role for the candidate to build up positive working relationships with all key internal stakeholders.
  6. Cost, Time and Efficiency Savings - Providing demonstrable results in business improvements
  7. Peer Review – 360 degree feedback from executive team members on attitude and efficiency
  8. Quality of Board reports and financial controls - board review of numbers and money

Supervision / Management of People

The post holder will be responsible for management, supervision and appraisal of the following staff with the CEO / CCO

  • Finance Manager
  • Administrators
  • Central Team
  • Nursery Managers, with CEO & CPO on business performance and policy adherance




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