Having worked in the finance departments of British Gypsum and Saint-Gobain, Surmeet’s current role has a wide mix of responsibilities and activities.
Having worked in the finance departments of British Gypsum and Saint-Gobain, Surmeet’s current role has a wide mix of responsibilities and activities. Not only does he monitor the company’s sales progress by producing the Daily Sales Report, which is published across British Gypsum and acts as an important indicator of its current health, he also provides management information.
This supports some of the decision-making processes with regards to the company’s broader direction, such as co-operating with others to formulate the yearly budget.
But, although he’s now a qualified accountant responsible for important aspects of British Gypsum’s financial operation, Surmeet has faced adversity in reaching this position.
A few years after leaving university, Surmeet secured a graduate position at the Audit Commission on a three and a half year training contract.
Yet, just as his prospects looked hopeful, a change in government policy in 2010 saw the closing down of the Audit Commission, leaving Surmeet redundant “before even starting work”.
It was, he says, “a bit of a blow”. But he recovered from the setback and joined British Gypsum in Sales Ops, primarily dealing with Contractor Support claims.
He then moved to the Saint-Gobain Finance Shared Service Centre where he worked as an Accounts Payable Clerk, a Cashier and a Trainee Financial Accountant.
Though he admits this particular branch of Finance was not where he saw his future, Surmeet understood the importance of keeping an open-mind and to always be “learning things from everything”.
It is clear that this positive mental attitude has paid-off, with Surmeet describing the skills he established during the period “all benefiting what I’m doing today”.
It was during this time Surmeet developed his ambition to become a qualified accountant, which was made possible through sponsorship by both Saint-Gobain and British Gypsum.
While the qualification itself is inherently difficult – his economics degree did not qualify him for many exemptions – Surmeet also had a young family. He said: “It’s not easy juggling full-time work, studying at weekends and still having a family life. But I managed to get through it with a lot of support from the family and my wife.
“I have a lot to be thankful for, both to Saint-Gobain when I started and to British Gypsum which continued the support when I arrived. Many colleagues in Finance have had the same support, so it’s certainly a good thing the company does.”
That positive outlook developed in his earlier work has continued into the present. When asked what has helped him progress in the company, he cites the British Gypsum value ‘I am approachable’.
He said: “I like to think that I’m approachable and a good team player. If someone asks me a question, then I will try to answer it as best I can. I try to forge positive relationships with the people around me”.
At a local level, Surmeet takes an active role in the weekly Local Process Improvement meetings, a forum for improvements to the working environment, and at a national level he played a part in organising the biannual BG Finance Forum.
Asked for advice for colleagues he offered: “If you show a willingness to learn, and apply that to your work, that will take you far.”