Tim Green speaks to Caroline
Caroline Rouse has more than 25 years experience as a finance director within the commercial and residential property sectors and is CFO at the Noé Group, a technology-led investment and asset management group. Prior to this she spent four years helping establish two start-ups: one a design-led residential development company and the other a student accommodation platform in the UK and Europe.
Rouse was European finance director for London & Cambridge Properties for seven years, where she managed a number of overseas teams, leading on debt funding and appraising potential investment and development opportunities in retail malls and industrial warehousing. Before that she spent two years at a large London law firm as finance director and three years at Tishman Speyer Properties as director of European finance and accounting, managing the finance of the overseas offices for the execution of large-scale office developments. Following qualification as an accountant with Price Waterhouse, and two years at Grand Metropolitan’s food manufacturing division, Rouse was finance director at Stockley Park, one of the first business parks in Europe.
What was your first job, and what is the worst job you’ve ever done?
My very first job was a paper round at our local hospital (the Royal Free, London), which involved pushing a trolley of newspapers for sale around all the wards. Being young at the time, I couldn’t quite understand why people seemed a little furtive and guilty, emphatically saying they didn’t ‘usually’ buy the News of the World! My worst job was undertaking a stocktake as an audit trainee, counting huge bales of wastepaper products at Lowestoft docks. The place was infested with rats and I recall having to scale bales piled at least six high – not something health and safety would permit these days, I am sure.
Was finance your first career choice and what were you doing before?
It was my first choice, as I saw it as a good platform for starting a career in business (and I still do). But I did enjoy building design when I was a child (my father was an architect), and I toyed with both architecture – for the creativity – and engineering, as I enjoyed physics and chemistry. Had I been more aware at school of the possibilities in real estate I may well have chosen a different degree subject (I did mathematics) with a view to a property-related career.