CBE – Economic

Debbie Corker has worked for Concentric Birmingham Limited for 11 years. As Credit Control Manager, she is responsible for managing the cash book, overseeing the process of invoicing for the UK business, recovering unpaid accounts, banking cash, advising the Profit and Loss account, facilitating the banking arrangements and maintaining debit and credit notes with customers. She also manages payroll and supports her Manufacturing Engineering and Environmental colleagues to generate revenue from waste products from manufacturing processes, making her a key player in our sustainability efforts – in economic, social and environmental terms.
Interview with Debbie Corker, Credit Control Manager, Birmingham, UK.

“Cash flow is of vital importance to the economic sustainability of any business,” Debbie says. “Whilst it may look better to have large inflows of revenue from sales, no business can survive long without enough cash to meet its immediate needs.” By controlling cash and ensuring that money owed is collected on time and that we pay creditors in accordance with our contract terms, Debbie helps to ensure that the cash position of the company remains healthy. As well as maintaining the cash books, Debbie also tracks spend against budget. By ensuring that the Birmingham business stays within budget she helps to ensure that the Company does not over-extend itself.

“From my point of view, working in a sustainable manner means keeping on top of things,” Debbie says. “It’s important to be well organised and to establish and apply consistent, streamlined processes to ensure that the receipt of payments and the recovery of monies owed is managed efficiently throughout the business.”

Debbie Corker
Debbie Corker

Concentric has clear processes and procedures drawn up to show how we work across the business and Finance is no exception, according to Debbie. “Our processes are regularly audited for external certifications such as ISO accreditations from British Standards and we are recognised for business excellence awards through EFQM where sustainability is an important criterion for success,” she explains. 

Debbie’s role is closely integrated into the business, with many contact points. “Concentric’s customers are big companies that generally pay according to a timetable, usually on time, but when queries arise, I’m the one who follows them up with my colleagues in the sales, quality and logistics departments,” she says.

Debbie applies standardised processes to address any queries, which means that customers can rest assured that their questions will be handled promptly and professionally. “Our processes also ensure that customers are invoiced on time, that invoices are sent to the correct contact and that the order numbers and prices stipulated are correct,” she adds. “Our efficiency and attention to detail mean that the payment processes at the customers’ end can run smoothly too.”

Another important aspect of sustainability that Debbie contributes to in her work is social sustainability, since she is responsible for payroll. “Most of our 215 employees live in and around the local area so our success feeds back into the community,” she points out. “By continuing to be a successful local employer, we are keeping people in work, earning money to care for themselves and their families, and contributing to the local economy.”  

The workforce in Birmingham is quite stable, which is an advantage when it comes to sustainable working practices, according to Debbie. “Our sustainability culture is embedded and the processes we apply are well understood. Changes in personnel can stop things running so smoothly and a little time is required to get new employees up to speed.”

Debbie also oversees and reconciles all the payments to the government for payroll taxes and social security, as well as contributions to pension providers. “There are big penalties for companies that do not pay on time so ensuring our compliance in this area also contributes to making Concentric a sustainable employer,” she explains.

On top of her work in credit control and payroll, Debbie also supports her Manufacturing Engineering and Environmental colleagues to generate revenue from scrap metal, coolants, cardboard packaging and other waste products from manufacturing processes. “I raise the invoices for scrap metals such as aluminium, cast iron and carbide and for paper and cardboard too,” she explains. “This recycling program is not only better for the environment – since these materials can be reused – it makes good economic sense too.”

Debbie believes that Concentric’s continuous improvement mind-set is key to its success in all aspects of sustainability. “We’re always looking for ways to improve on what we do today,” she says. “Our revenue streams from recycling are a great example of that. Now that we see how successful it’s been, we are investigating the possibility of recycling wooden packaging as well. Every little step we take adds up and brings us that much closer to a more sustainable future.”