In our latest blog, we talk to Marc Hilbourne, CFO at Redbox. We discover his love of the arts - not surprising given his family background - and why he considers himself the black sheep in the family.
Tell us about life before Redbox?
You could say I was the black sheep in the family having chosen a career in finance. I am from a creative family and grew up with a passion for art and literature. Our house is packed with Mum's paintings and Dad's pottery, and thousands of books!
I have enormous respect for the creative muse but the left-hand side of the brain predominates in me! I have tried to marry the two throughout my career, working with a lot of creative businesses and people who are not finance orientated.
I started out at a small firm based in Finchley Road, North London where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant. We worked with a number of clients from all walks – SMEs, charities, property companies and even a casino. Years later, I moved to a much bigger firm, Grant Thornton, and joined its media and entertainment team. I was there for five years before leaving to work for a TV production and distribution business as their FD. It was a steep learning curve and a real roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. In the end, we sold the business.
I went on to work for a large communications agency for six years and then a smaller social media agency, before joining Redbox in July 2018.
How did you end up at Redbox?
We were looking to move to LA for a few years but for various reasons it didn’t happen, and then my wife fell pregnant with our first child.
I had met Jonty, the CEO, some years ago. We met up again in 2018 and he offered me the role as CFO. I suppose it was the right time, right place!
Redbox is going through a period of change and growth and it’s a very exciting time to be part of the business.
Marc Hilbourne, Redbox's CFO
Main challenges of your role?
Managing the growth and development of the business both in the UK and overseas.
Finance is the engine room of any business, and it’s my job to make sure we push through the commercial challenges and have the right processes and systems in place so we don’t hit an iceberg!
What aspects of the job do you like?
I enjoy managing change, whether that’s the pressures and challenges of high growth businesses or navigating through difficult situations in harder times.
And each day brings new challenges and this keeps life interesting. The Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, once said about his work at Cambridge University:
"I arrive each morning full of hope, rage through the day and leave in the evening full of despair". I believe that whilst we can't always solve everything we have to try and each day brings new hope!
Any work achievements you are most proud of?
Back in the day I wrote a report on creative industry accounting that was published by Grant Thornton. It received a bit of media attention. It was good to contribute to a debate and bring clarity on a complex area. I enjoyed the writing process and expressing myself through words – it’s something I’d like to do more of in the future, they say everyone has a book in them!
I spent more than six years as the group FD of a high-growth communications agency and am proud to have turned around an over-staffed and under-performing finance function and to have been a key member of the team in expanding the business by buying and integrating three smaller agencies. They are now one of the largest agencies in the UK and highly profitable.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
We have a 10-month-old boy so it's all about him now! We get out and about with Atticus all of the time and it’s a joy to see him develop.
I also enjoy playing the piano. My creative side comes through the music – it has always been really important to me.
What does the future hold?
I love to travel and want to expose my son to different cultures and give him every opportunity to see the world. This new stage of my life is rejuvenating. I’d like to go back to Central and South America, and Russia is a country I’d like to visit.
If you had your time again, what would you do?
Concert pianist or politician, maybe both!
What are you grateful for?
After University, I decided to go travelling. Being a student, I was pretty broke. My wonderful gran decided to give me my inheritance early so I could live my life and explore the world. For that, I am eternally grateful.
“Fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts”.
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