Offering shorter build times, reduced environmental impacts, and increased cost efficiency, Metric Modular produces innovative modular buildings, including homes, wilderness lodges, and student housing. The company is helping to address housing needs in the Lower Mainland and, through its forward-thinking practices, is reshaping the construction industry at the same time. We talked to the company’s CFO, Joel Holloway, CPA, CA, about why he became a CPA and his leadership role at Metric Modular.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in accounting and finance?
The short answer is my dad. Growing up I saw he was a trusted partner for businesses in our community and I thought the role he played and the work he did looked very exciting.
What has been your proudest career moment?
It has been very rewarding to be part of the ongoing turnaround of Metric Modular. Previously, Metric Modular (formerly Britco) depended on large capital projects such as oil sands developments to drive its revenue. With the dramatic drop in oil prices in 2014, we had to scale the company back dramatically and shrunk from three factories to one and maintained only a fraction of our former workforce. However, in the face of these difficulties we pursued a strategy to diversify our revenue streams, enter new markets, rebuild our skilled workforce, and position Metric Modular as a leader in delivering the advantages of modular construction.
How would you describe your leadership style? As a leader, how do you keep your accounting and finance team engaged and motivated to achieve their best?
As a leader, I know that success for the organization and for staff depends on having a culture that encourages team empowerment. For us to thrive, we need to focus on accomplishments as a team as opposed to individual efforts. This understanding motivates me to lead by example in creating an environment where we value one another, where expectations and goals are clear, and where we seek success as a team.
In leading a team, I build transparent relationships that allow me to understand the goals and motivations of the individuals I work with. I’m then able to facilitate opportunities for my team to grow and achieve their career goals.
I appreciate authentic and direct communication and I want to reciprocate that with my team and co-workers. I also endeavor, wherever possible, to let my team have insights into the end use of their work (corporate reporting, financing requirements, management of the business) as I have always appreciated it when others did this for me.
Please tell us about a time when you challenged yourself to grow by taking on a task or initiative that was uncomfortable.
In recent years I’ve realized that to develop further as a leader I need to shift my focus from tactical, short-term execution goals to a longer-term strategic focus. Now, I see some of these strategic leadership muscles/skills beginning to develop. I think that doing the following has helped:
- Acknowledging strategic leadership as an area for development. It was a bit of a revelation for me to realize that developing annual budgets and even longer-term projections did not constitute strategic leadership and that it was important to pursue many avenues to grow as a leader;
- Pursuing training opportunities, particularly as Metric Modular sought to develop a new business strategy; and
- Working with and for leaders who have a strategic mindset.
In closing, Joel notes that achieving personal growth takes ongoing commitment, saying “It takes discipline to consistently work on development, as day-to-day demands have a way of monopolizing my time and energy! But the end result is definitely worthwhile.”
Interested in learning about the growing popularity of modular housing in general, and Metric Modular’s success in disrupting the construction industry? Check out our counterpart post on CPABC Industry Update.