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Martin Hibbert - BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance, 1989

Martin Hibbert graduated with a BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance degree in 1989.

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Martin Hibbert graduated with a BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance degree in 1989. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1992 with Deloitte and later moved to RSM Robson Rhodes in 1995. A move to industry beckoned, and Martin joined Yorkshire Electricity Group plc in 1997 where he became Head of Internal Audit and then Head of Corporate Accounting in 1999. In 2001, following the sale of Yorkshire Electricity, Martin joined Arriva plc as Group Financial Controller. Following the acquisition of Arriva by Deutsche Bahn, Martin was promoted to his current position of Chief Financial Officer of Arriva plc in 2011. Martin is Arriva plc’s Chief Financial Officer, with responsibility for the company’s treasury and tax, financial reporting, insurance and ICT. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the University in 2019 in recognition of his achievements.

Martin explains: “I chose to study at Leeds Beckett because I immediately liked the feel of the place when I came to visit. It had the feeling of quiet confidence that it knew it was good at what it did and took academia seriously but was also place to have fun and expand personal horizons beyond study. It was well located near to the City centre and I wanted to experience all a vibrant city could offer having come from a rural background.

“My choice of degree was straightforward – I wanted to learn as much as I could about business and finance, and then more specifically around accounting and economics. The course was great and gave me the baseline knowledge and thought processes that would be the start of my professional toolkit.

“Outside study I enjoyed the sporting facilities and various clubs and activities on offer at the university, as well as the sport, entertainment and nightlife of Leeds. Taking everything together, I was in a great learning environment both academically and the wider world.

“As I look back and ask what I would have done differently I would not change much. I studied hard and I played hard, living the life of a young man from a small village suddenly in a big city and free from parental control! All that I would change is I would choose to go into halls of residence for the first year, as that would have exposed me to a far wider social group earlier in my time there.

“The learning experience is constant, and becomes a perpetual challenger and motivator in your career if you are open to it. The initiatives I have worked on over the years have always had one thing in common – they increase the value of the business. But value is not just about money. Whilst as CFO this has been my primary objective, I have also led programmes to improve pension options for employees which increased our attractiveness as an employer relative to our competitors and I have been a mentor to the graduate programme helping our graduates adapt and contribute to life in the commercial world.

“Perhaps my biggest achievement was keeping the finances and liquidity of the company above water during the financial crisis of 2008. During that year I think I wore the pavements out in the City of London going from bank to bank to raise finance and sell our corporate story. As it turns out, I raised far more than we needed, and we used this to buy businesses in other countries which dramatically changed our European portfolio and ultimately became a major value creator. It is a scenario not too different to the current world crisis and I can see a similar course of events as businesses fail or are bought up by stronger businesses who then ride the wave when the recovery comes.”

Arriva is a leading international passenger transport provider operating in 14 European countries with a turnover of around £5.5 billion and some 53,000 employees. It operates services including local buses, local, regional and national train services, trams, waterbuses and non-emergency patient transport. It has a significant presence in Yorkshire, providing services across West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

“At Arriva we have invested heavily in improving bus and rail services in and around the Leeds area.

Each bus carrying 30+ passengers at rush hour potentially takes 30 cars off the road, thus reducing congestion and pollution. The faster the bus journey the more attractive it becomes, so over the years we have been involved in the guided busway, bus priority lanes and the aborted Leeds Supertram project, all of which have to be led by the council as they require major infrastructure work. We will continue to work with the council to improve travel and mobility not just in Leeds but in the surrounding areas.

“Whilst I do not live in Leeds anymore, our daughter is currently studying at Leeds Beckett, we have many friends there, and of course Arriva has a strong market presence through its bus and rail services in Leeds and across Yorkshire. So I have no shortage of excuses to visit!"

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