My Education: BS in Actuarial Math/Finance at Bryant University MBA - Long Island University - CW Post
My Prior Experience: I started as a financial analyst specializing in automating financial reports. This led to a role as Sr. Cost Accountant responsible for costing products for a technology company. Finance Controller of two product lines with over $1B of revenue.
My Company: My company makes enterprise mobility products and communication devices
Job/Career Overview: I am responsible for the overall financial results of the product development organization - from revenue to cost of goods sold (margin) to operating expenses such as research & development, selling & marketing, and general administrative costs (Finance, HR, IT). Basically I need to answer the question "Is the area I support profitable? - does it make the company enough money through revenue & margin to cover the expenses that are necessary to secure the sale?".
I forecast operating expenses such as engineering headcount costs & purchased services ensuring that we have the funding to develop new products that will keep us market leaders. I partner with executives in the engineering organization to help them make sound business decisions...does it make sense to continue to develop a product for $X if we will only get $Y as a return on our investment?. Do we have enough headcount to develop the product? - what is the right strategy? - hire full time associates or seek the services of an outside design company?
I spend a substantial amount of time developing new tools and reports to help foster those decisions. These reports include revenue trends by region (North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe), by customer, by product. If we cost reduce a product how much additional money will we get on the bottom line?. Is it worth continuing to sell a product for the amount of bottom line profits that we get or is our money better spent elsewhere?
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
The best part is working with my business partners - by working with them, you learn more about the business and can take your skills and apply them with real relevance. Anyone can read a financial report - but what is important is what does it mean for our business. Where are the areas we can improve, what is the overlying strategy. Sometimes financially a decision doesn't seem to make sense from a pure profit perspective - but if you understand the business and the strategy, you can make a better decision.
Worst part - getting non-financial people to understand the what it means in the big picture and not just their small subsection of the world.
Strong computer skills are essential. You learn many tricks and tips from others, but if you don't know the basics - you are starting behind the curve. Excel & Access are critical tools to to data mine and provide the best support to the business.
Don't wait for someone to teach you the business - take the initiative to study the company's products, mission, marketing campaign. Who are the competitors and what are they doing.
Learn to write in bullet points - get to the key concept without burying it in many words. Lots of words aren't always better - be concise. People don't have the time to decipher through paragraphs upon paragraphs to get the point of what you are asking or stating.
Also, stop yourself from the writing emails in "texting" language. Text shorthand is not appropriate and undermines your credibility in a business environment.
Make the most of internships - ask questions, take notes and study them.