As a , Gary McGaghey has an extensive track record of delivering organic and M&A-driven growth in private equity, listed, and privately owned companies.
He has delivered essential change in companies belonging to several sectors, including fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), beverage, pharmacy, and media markets. McGaghey achieves growth transformations by building and nurturing world-class finance teams, which have worked under his careful management to transform businesses and business divisions around the world.
Most recently, McGaghey has taken on the role of CFO for the €1.3bn end-to-end marketing production services group Williams Lea Tag. McGaghey began his journey with the company as an interim controller in September 2019and became the CFO in June 2020. Now, McGaghey is taking a growth-oriented approach to Williams Lea Tag’s latest company transformation. Following the initial carve out of Williams Lea Tag from DPDHL, McGaghey is leading the transformation of the Williams Lea business, including cost transformation, business unit carve outs and sale, balance sheet refinancing and preparation for a strong exit.
Having already managed several commercial, long-term strategies, McGaghey is keen to shift his strategic insights to Williams Lea Tag’s transformation, which focuses more on a healthy exit. Following his work with high-profile listed and privately owned companies, McGaghey is enjoying the fast-paced nature of Williams Lea Tag as a private equity company.
Williams Lea Tag has evolved in huge strides since the company launched as a London print shop in 1820. Today, the company offers critical support services for financial, legal, and professional service businesses. In 2011, Williams Lea purchased Tag Worldwide, a design and production agency, and integrated Tag’s name into the brand. Then, in 2017, the American global firm Advent International acquired Williams Lea Tag to make the most of its operational and strategic potential.
Williams Lea Tag works with businesses around the world, both onsite and remotely, to create custom solutions, each designed to remap a business’ success. Rather than applying one-size-fits-all solutions to each business, Williams Lea Tag takes a consultative approach, designing and implementing original operational models so businesses can enjoy enhanced efficiencies, strengthen their brand reputations, and offer their customers exceptional experiences.
Overall, McGaghey’s role is to manage Williams Lea Tag’s financial environment, notably by formulating growth plans and helping the financial team come to key decisions. He leads transformation across the company through cost-restructuring programmes, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), carve-outs, divestitures, and balance-sheet reconfiguring.
As Williams Lea Tag’s Group CFO, McGaghey:
· Monitors and directs the implementation of commercial plans with particular focus on cash generation through robust gross margin management, optimising an overhead cost base and very tight working capital management
· Maximises the value of the company’s holdings through investment decisions.
McGaghey began his approach to Williams Lea Tag’s latest transformation by building a highly effective team that can manage an optimal financial environment. His role is as much about people management and mentoring as it is financial skill and strategy. He kickstarted plans by identifying talent for the team and mentoring these individuals so they can perform at their best. With a strong team in place, McGaghey and his colleagues can plan cost efficiencies and fund allocations to put the company in an optimal position for success.
Williams Lea Tag may be the first private equity company McGaghey has applied himself to, but his deep understanding of financial restructuring is as relevant to the private equity arena as it is to the listed and privately owned companies he has already transformed. In his latest challenge, McGaghey is set to use his career’s worth of financial skills to bring Williams Lea Tag to fruition in the private equity space.
McGaghey brings a wealth of experience from non-executive and statutory executive director roles at listed and privately owned companies to his role at Williams Lea Tag. For starters, he is also the , the award-winning leader of children’s fitness analysis and testing.
McGaghey has also held the following roles.
From 2017–19, McGaghey was the Group CFO of Nelson & Co Ltd, a global consumer healthcare product provider. In this role, McGaghey:
· Led contact with family shareholders
· Managed all aspects of finance, treasury, tax, M&A, governance and risk
· Oversaw global procurement, global demand planning, and sales and operations planning (S&OP) functions
· Co-created and led the implementation and programme management of a five-year growth strategy
· Transformed the finance function with effective business partnering and tooling
· Restructured the company’s balance sheet and funding lines
From 2002–17, McGaghey held several roles with the €53bn global FMCG group Unilever. And, before this, he worked with the Robertsons Foods Group as CFO, which merged with Unilever in 2002. Over the years, McGaghey has acted as Unilever’s:
· CFO and statutory director on the board of Pepsi Lipton International Joint Venture
· VP of finance, CFO, and COO of Unilever Global Business Services
· CFO and statutory director on the board of Unilever SA (Pty) Ltd
· Chairman of the Unilever SA Pension Fund
· Chairman of the Pension Investment Committee
· VP of Unilever PLC Global M&A
· VP of finance and CFO of Unilever Bestfoods Robertsons (Pty) Ltd
During his tenure at Pepsi Lipton JV, McGaghey managed all aspects of finance, treasury, investor relations, tax, M&A, governance, risk and global strategy development. He led contact with PepsiCo HQ, managed the joint-venture relationship with PepsiCo, and led a five-year strategy that increased profits substantially through delivering profitable double digit turnover growth. He also led market development projects in Indonesia, China, Brazil, and Australia with PepsiCo bottlers and third parties.
As the Group CFO of Unilever’s South African region, McGaghey also led the recovery of business profitability after a challenged SAP ERP implementation; managed changes to the strategic pricing of the Laundry Brand portfolio, which resulted in substantial gross margins and cash generation improvements; carved out and sold non core business units and oversaw regulatory negotiations and approvals, which led to the integration of Sara Lee and Alberto Culver acquisitions. These acquisitions enabled Unilever to make significant savings across manufacturing, logistics, and overheads.
Before working with Unilever, McGaghey held various roles in the Robertsons Foods Group, a leading fast growing, entrepreneurial FMCG business in the Southern African region. This was McGaghey’s first experience in working in a PE owned business as it was owned by Remgro, a major PE business, before selling to Unilever in an exit. Over 10 years, he built the foundations of his financial and commercial skills in various financial and operational roles, including CFO of Baker Street Snacks (Pty) Ltd, COO of Homecare (Pty) Ltd and Group Logistics Director at Robertsons Foods (Pty) Ltd. He began his accounting career with KPMG in South Africa.
Not only is McGaghey registered on the Public Accountants and Auditors Board as a Chartered Accountant in South Africa, but he also has an:
· Associates of Cost and Management (ACMA) certification from the UK Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
· A bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Auditing, Tax and Finance from the University of Natal (South Africa)
· A Non-Executive Director Diploma from the Financial Times, a formally accredited, level seven , postgraduate qualification.
McGaghey has also presented at several prestigious events and conferences. His presentations include ‘Lessons From Shared Services and Setting up Global Business Services’, which he presented to a PricewaterhouseCooper client base in 2014, and ‘Successful Outsourcing and Finance Function Transformation’, which he presented to Jaguar Landrover’s CFO and finance team in the same year. McGaghey also gave a in 2014. And, in 2017–18, he was a regular presenter on the London Business School M&A Program, where he discussed ‘The Softer Skills of Successful M&A’.
As an expert in multi-currency financial controlling and step-changing business performance, McGaghey has successfully partnered CEOs of PLC multinationals, private/private equity companies, and joint ventures. He engages private equity, PLC, and family-owner stakeholders with his constructive, supportive style, which he teams with his expertise in corporate governance and risk management to help businesses complete the transformations they need to excel.
Many people recognise McGaghey for his financial expertise, but he’s also gained invaluable experience in FMCG manufacturing, logistics, go-to-market strategy, integrated sales and operations planning, ERP, procurement, demand planning, and operations through his CFO, Interim CEO and COO roles.
McGaghey has lived in four countries – the UK, South Africa, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia – and worked with global teams across several continents. Few can equal his knowledge of cultural diversity in business landscapes.