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People of PressPage: Sam McDonald

A finance manager with a passion for buildings and architecture

Although our Finance Manager has a passion for buildings and architecture, luckily for us he took the ‘finance road’. His eye for detail with the ability to still see the bigger picture, makes him a very valuable addition to the team. Learn more about this charismatic, friendly guy from South Africa.

Could you describe briefly what your role is within PressPage?

I am the finance manager at PressPage. Due to the size of the company, this means dealing with a range of different tasks, from strategic aspects to more administrative and operational tasks. I like this kind of variety and the balance between the two. When I started at PressPage the main focus was to enable 3-5 year planning, for investors to understand the possibilities of scaling up. The work has now settled down into a normal role of taking care of the financial operations of the company, with some other initiatives and projects, like implementing new systems. Taking responsibility for the overall financial sustainability of PressPage involves more than managing the daily finances, but requires a lot of analysis and getting involved in all different parts of the business, including Sales, Marketing, Development and Customer Success.

My professional background is financial and management related. After I finished my B.Compt Honours Degree in Accounting, I started with a training contract at PwC. From that point on I have worked mostly in larger corporates in financial management. Although working in bigger organizations helped me to develop, as I gained more experience I noticed that I wanted to move away from a pure finance role to a role in which I could broaden my scope of business. When I started working in smaller, medium sized companies, I became responsible for more elements outside of finance and started seeing the bigger picture. To optimally perform in these kind of roles, I got the opportunity to do an MBA which focused more on general management and business strategy. To be involved in a more broader role than just finance, allowed me to add value and contributing to strategy as well.

It is quite easy for a finance person to get lost in the detail. The detail is important, because the figures must always be right. Due to the experience gained, I learned to keep looking at the bigger picture and make my role as a finance manager more valuable to all areas of the business.

PressPage is my first job in the Netherlands. The funny thing is, although when I was younger I wanted to move to Europe, I didn’t necessarily dream of living in the Netherlands. I could picture myself living here when I first visited Amsterdam 20 years ago, looking at the beautiful houses and little canals, but did not realise it would one day become reality. Living here, I realise that the Netherlands offers me a lot of opportunity and I can really associate with the Dutch value system. Also - because I speak Zuid Afrikaans, the Dutch language is quite familiar and I feel more at home because of the Dutch heritage in South Africa.

Three things you didn’t know about Sam

I have a big interest in buildings and architecture. Back at school I was always drawing pictures of buildings and even building models of it. I started with a picture in my mind of a location where a building could be built, then started drawing the floor plan and built it up floor by floor. When I was happy about the drawing, I created a 3D model of it. As soon as I started building a model, I wouldn’t stop until it was finished and I could see how the end result matched the picture in my mind. I thought about becoming an architect, but various reasons led me to rather follow the path of numbers and finance. However, due to this interest in buildings, I also did a Post Graduate Diploma in Property studies, which enabled me to combine my passion for architecture and building with my expertise in finance. I must say, if I would have unlimited funds and could do whatever I want, I would start a business that allows me to develop these ideas into real buildings.

I am originally from South Africa, born and raised there and started my career there. Along the way the feeling grew that I wanted to experience rural Africa, so I started working for a telecoms company in Central Africa. During a holiday I would have never travelled to this area, but this job opportunity enabled me to do this with the support of a network, accommodation and safe means of transport. Unfortunately, at one point the elections in the DRC back then led to a a lot of civil unrest. We were caught in a house with shots fired around us and could not leave by ourselves; even the airport was closed. Eventually a local colleague helped me escape by boat via the Congo River and I didn’t return. Looking back it this, it was an intense experience but I don’t feel traumatised by it. For me it was one of the most enriching experiences that I’ve had. It showed me that if you want to grow as a person and have unique experiences, you should never get stuck in a daily pattern because it feels safe. Always try to do things differently.

Being surrounded by nature and having an active outdoor life is what I really like. The best situation for me was when I lived in Cape Town– I could just step out the door and enjoy nature, mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. It literally took me zero effort to get into the nature, do sports and have an active lifestyle. I try to incorporate that into everywhere I go. Now living in the city centre of Amsterdam where space is very limited, I’m still exploring and defining that part of my life here. However, I really enjoy the city and it is a magnificent place, but I am still trying to find out how it works best for me regarding the nature element.


The secret dream of Sam

Well, as I mentioned, working in creating buildings and property is still a dream for me, but I don’t know if that is something that I want or should convert into a life goal. One of the other things I do know is that I want to travel more often. I really want to explore the world a bit more and want to create a balance between adding value to business and exploring the world. There is not one location that instantly comes to mind, but there are a couple that I do want to visit. Canada is one of them. It seems like a beautiful combination of nature, cool cities and nice people. I also think New Zealand is something worth visiting for me. Out of places I’ve visited, Iceland is probably one of my favourites.


About PressPage

PressPage provides a SaaS PR platform with additional services for creation of advanced social newsrooms, virtual press centers and online media hubs. It enables brands to publish and distribute rich content, and provides direct insights into the results. PressPage empowers PR professionals by adding efficiency and effectiveness to their daily work routine.