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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Scott Stewart, Manager of Finance and Budgets

Oct 30, 2019

Scott Stewart

Q: How long have you been with the School of Nursing?

I’ve been with the School of Nursing for about two years. Before that, I worked with an IT consulting/outsourcing company.

Q: What is the purpose of your role?

It involves financial reporting, research grant assessments, dealing with entries and vouchers. I also look at revenue and expense variances, which means examining what we actually have for revenue and expenses incurred compared to what we budgeted. I look at the differences to see where we’re at and look at why this happened. A big part of the job is preparing the annual budget. We do a 5 month review, an 8 month review and then a year-end review. Every operational decision made within the School has a cost associated with it, so it’s important we provide leadership with accurate financial information for decision making.

Q: What does a typical workday look like for you?

It ranges from day to day. I manage high volume accounting transactions, prepare reports, ensure all reporting obligations to the government are met, provide requests for information, review contracts, ensure budget accuracy for contracts and research grants, and work with the research finance department, etc. It also depends on the time of the year. From November to March/April, it’s a really deep dive on budgets. After then, it slows down a little, but research grant budgets are still a consistent task that requires my constant attention.

Q: How do you work with your colleagues?

Within the department, I work with all the admins who oversee academic and research programs. I usually touch base with them to see where they think they are going to be with this year’s financial targets, or if they have anything significant that is going to be of material value. Then we work together if they have any questions for tax implications, procedures for entries, and what’s needed for submitting financial reports. 

Outside of the department, we have monthly meetings with other financial management in the Faculty of Health Science. We go over new things that may be rolled out, or new business updates. As well, I work with the financial representatives from our consortium partners, Mohawk and Conestoga colleges.

Q: What do you like best about working at McMaster University?

The work-life balance is really good here. There are obviously times, like budget crunch, when you’re going to have to put in some extra time. But for the most part, you usually have time to finish what you need. And I like working with all the people. It’s a good group. I find people here are approachable and I have a lot of mutual interests with them.

McMaster promotes a lot of great things for employees, too. They offer resources like retirement and financial courses, great town halls for a variety of topics, like the roll-out of Mosaic updates. If you’re looking to get better at your role and other technical skills, McMaster offers a lot of support, like continuing education courses. I took the Strategic Leadership Program recently. You learn about important concepts that you can apply to your work life as well as your personal life, like problem solving and critical thinking. And you get to network with great managers from different areas of McMaster. It’s a really good program.

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