Building business success – in conversation with Derek Duff, COO of Malone & Co.

Building business success – in conversation with Derek Duff, COO of Malone & Co.

By: Damien
15 Sep, 2022
In the past, the COO was a strategic role that was typically filled by someone with a finance or accounting background. Today, however, this position has evolved into an essential one for companies to be successful. This is because the COO is responsible for maximizing company profits and ensuring that the company is on track to grow.

Derek Duff is Malone & Co.’s chief operating officer. In this article, he discusses what that role entails and his plans to help develop the firm in the coming years.

When Derek Duff walked into the Dublin offices of Malone & Co. on his first day as the company’s chief operating officer (COO), he was struck not only by the growth and success the firm has achieved in recent years despite the challenging economic environment but also the opportunity and potential for the further growth of the company.

Malone & Co. now boasts 30 professionals in its ranks, providing a wide range of services. But Derek admits success does not come easy – and potential is nothing unless it is converted and maximised.

He admits he’s not afraid of hard work and is determined to play his part in ensuring Malone & Co, and its employees, reach their potential in the years ahead.

What were your initial priorities when you joined Malone & Co?



“As soon as I was on board I looked at how the firm worked and what the expectations of senior management and employees were – and from there I started to assess what was needed to get the company to achieve its goals.

“I was impressed with how well-rounded the team was; it comprises people from various backgrounds and experiences, which gives a breadth of insight to its work”

What does your role as COO entail?



“As COO, I have a crucial role in ensuring Malone & Co’s success going forward. While a COO’s job is traditionally seen as a background strategic role, this has evolved to be an essential one for ambitious firms. Above all, these days a good COO is responsible for maximising profits and ensuring the business is on track to grow and develop.

“COOs carry out a variety of tasks in an accounting firm, including overseeing financial planning and budgeting, managing human resources, leading business development initiatives and implementing efficient processes and procedures.

“It is a varied role; I manage the day-to-day tasks of the office and ensure that all employees are communicating effectively between departments.

“In short, the three actions that drive the purpose of my role are to give feedback to the CEO, provide leadership and guidance and help the team succeed.”

What did you do before you joined Malone & Co.?



“Before I joined Malone & Co, I spent 15 years in a variety of senior management positions in companies in Ireland and in Europe, and I have more than 30 years’ experience in sales and marketing.

“In my time in senior management, I have been responsible for some notable successes, including the profitable management and development of an extensive product range across varied supply channels. This included responsibility for the profit and loss sheet, change management, business process reengineering, restructuring, corporate branding, commercial development of new products, technical marketing, cross functional management across all business functions – including human resources, finance and supply chain – and regularly interacting with key accounts, national buying groups, suppliers and customers.”

What challenges have you experienced as COO and how have they been overcome?



“When taking on such an important role, there are many challenges that need to be addressed if you are to make a success of the role and the business. In accountancy firms one of the challenges is to manage a diverse range of people – employees and clients.

“I am responsible for making sure that the entire team – from senior management to the most junior recruits – are all pulling in the same direction. This requires everyone communicating effectively with each other and working together, not in silos. While this can be challenging, as we have a team with lots of different – and strong – opinions, we always find a consensus.

“Likewise, good negotiating skills are required to ensure the team are kept happy, but still meet or exceed their goals.

“A key part of this is about managing expectations: you have to be aware of what the teams need and understand their ways of working and what makes them tick. But also ensure they maintain their work towards their individual and team goals.”

How important is it for the COO to think strategically?



“Another necessary skill for a COO is to be able to think strategically to create new opportunities while managing the risk. One of my priorities as COO has been to devise a strategic plan for the company, which will ensure Malone & Co’s goals are achieved.

“The plan has included developing a clear vision, creating a strong team culture and implementing processes and procedures that will help improve the firm’s performance.

“Part of this has involved developing the positive culture that was already present within the company, to ensure it is aligned with the company’s strategy and helps to motivate employees and encourage innovation, all of which should help to continue Malone & Co to grow.

“An important part of this culture is the way that difficult reviews are dealt with and ensuring there is no blame attached to one person. While negative feedback – which does occur occasionally – is not easy to handle, and can be a blow to the business, it must be faced and actioned immediately. It is important to communicate this feedback to the employee in a way that does not make the person feel bad about themselves or their work or affects their confidence in their ability to do their job going forwards. If you can do that, then hopefully you can give them the knowledge they need to avoid a similar situation arising in the future.”

What are your hopes for the future?



“I will continue to focus on doing the best for the business to help it achieve its goals. This includes ensuring staff are hitting their targets and taking action if not, which means finding out why and addressing any issues or barriers they may be experiencing.

“I want to build on the impressive growth the firm has experienced recently, despite the challenging economic environment of the past few years. Malone has added significantly to its team in that time to cope with the demand for its work, and there is no reason for this growth to slow and I will do my best to ensure it does continue.”

About Malone & Co.



Malone & Co Accountants https://www.maloneaccountants.ie/ can assist on all the relevant aspects of raising funding, including the risks involved, as well as anything from setting up a company and ensuring it is as tax efficient as possible to providing diligence services as part of an M&A deal or funding round in the sector. We can also provide in-depth information to ensure any deal achieves the value hoped for at the outset.
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