Helping more than 400 volunteer treasurers to balance the books has led to a top award for Playcentre Aotearoa’s chief financial officer, Marina Cook. 

Marina has been named as the Emerging Financial Manager of the Year at the 2020 New Zealand CFO Awards. 

 Her drive to “keep things simple” has led to the transformation of data collection and reporting for Playcentre, representing more than 420 Centres and Playcentre shops all around the country.

Shortly after joining the organisation, two-and-a-half years ago, Marina, who’s 35, also played a key role in the amalgamation of the national association with 32 Playcentre associations, leading the financial processes to wind up the associations and combine assets. 

Transforming the data collection has resulted in significantly more reliable information that is now available on a timely basis rather than many months in arrears, making it more readily able to be audited and resulting in improved cash management and supplier relationships.  

It has also led to a significant increase in the confidence of Treasury and Ministry of Education – Playcentre’s major funder – in the organisation. 

 The General Manager of Playcentre Aotearoa, Sean McKinley, says Marina’s ability to work with non-financial members of the organisation and take them through the necessary processes to understand what is required of them has resulted in a level of trust in her abilities that is quite remarkable for someone so early in her career.  

 “The value of the changes that Marina has introduced to the organisation are significant. They range from providing simplified reporting templates that have saved volunteers countless hours and stress to putting in place well-crafted financial policies and procedures that have ensured the organisation has increased its financial standing.” 

Marina says a big part of the satisfaction she gains from the role, is making life as easy as possible for Playcentre’s hardworking volunteers and keeping admin to a minimum.  

“I knew we’d been successful when one of our Treasurers told me last year that she was able to complete the paperwork for her annual financial reporting in the ad breaks while watching ‘The Batchelor’!”