By Jennifer Erb
2017-03-272017-03-27https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
IMSE Undergrad Class of 2011
What does the company do? Sodexo is the Global 500 Company with over 20 billion Euros in consolidated annual revenue, operating in 80 countries across the globe and offering wide array of Quality of Life services backed by over 425,000 employees.
Current role: Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A)
How I get to my current role:
A day in life of Corporate Finance Professional – There is no such thing as a typical day in Corporate FP&A. For the most part, we go by the financial close calendars – two busy weeks and two easy weeks – for monthly/quarterly financial reporting and there are also budget/forecast/Risk & Opportunities schedules that we must deliver throughout the fiscal year. Ad-hoc requests are very common and always come with “need this ASAP” as deadline. I’ve worked 16+ hrs. days and there were days when I had nothing on my schedule.
I work in a flexible and family-oriented work environment so “in the office from 8 to 5” is a norm but not a requirement. Some work from home 2-3 times a week to pick up young kids from school when their spouses are busy and my bosses usually call into meetings from kids’ swim practices, soccer games, etc. At middle/senior management level, we are expected to deliver our tasks so most people can be reach at any time and it is not unusual to check/get emails at odd hours.
Below is an example of a recent day I’ve had.
6:00AM – My day starts at 6 nowadays since my wife is a middle school teacher. I get up with her and usually read sports and business articles on twitter and try to keep up with what’s going on around the world. We also watch local weather/traffic news to decide which route to use to go to work.
7:30AM – I leave my house half an hour after my wife. My work is only 7 miles from home but I go towards Washington DC and the traffic in area is brutal. It usually takes me 25-35 mins to get to work. Dress code is business casual except for Friday. I usually wear suits for important meetings.
8:00AM – I arrive a little earlier than most people to start the day. I work at North America Headquarters of Sodexo so there are 800+ people who work out of HQ. I get ready for the day by replying to emails and checking my calendar for the day.
8:30AM – The first meeting on schedule is with North America (NorAm) CFO. No matter how many times I’ve done these, I always feel a little bit of nervousness to go into his office with the analyses and presentation deck that he’s looking for. Currently, he is leading a global project to reduce business travel costs by XX mil USD. We opened the WebEx call with stakeholders from UK and France to review the presentation deck I’ve prepared. The deck will be presented to Executive Committee next week. Attendees include representatives from regional finance teams, global supply management team, and global service operations team.
9:30AM – We get off the call and I get back to my desk to have a follow up call with Global supply manager from UK to make changes on business case numbers. It is common in our roles to have multiple iterations of presentation deck with cosmetic changes until senior leaders are satisfied.
10:30AM – Another meeting on schedule with project team from France on NorAm reporting integration into global reporting system called SONAR. The project has gone live since November 2016 and we are now taking over the controllership of reporting for the region. I’m currently acting as the system controller for the region so we discuss the issues and glitches from previous month closing process run. Attendees include FP&A, Master Data Management team, IT, and project team.
(Note: Since my company has transitioned into Global organization, we now work closely with teams from all over the world to share expertise so the calls are typically in the morning to accommodate the time zones differences)
11:30AM – Early lunch time for me before the café gets crowded. Then go outside to walk around the office for about 20 mins.
12:15PM – UK and France teams sent in their revised numbers and additional information so I can consolidate and analyze for the global travel project. I send emails back out to understand some of the changes in their submissions.
12:21PM – Email from my boss that her boss wants an initial Risk & Opportunities report for this month (which is not due until next week) ASAP so I need to drop everything and work on it.
2:15PM – Back to the global travel consolidation. Email from CFO that he would like me to send the updated deck to him before his flight to Europe at 5PM so he can review. Check, double check, and triple check the numbers)
4:10PM – I send the final presentation deck to CFO with backup details and comments to explain the numbers. Now it’s time to follow up on low priority requests from business partners as well as to look ahead for tomorrow deliverables.
5:15PM – Time to get out of the office!
Why chose corporate finance? Companies are driven by financial performance and I like that I get to see the whole picture. Change is constant and there’re always challenges and supports needed by the senior executives. I have a chance to work with/learn from C-level people as well as people from all over the world at different levels of organization. Finance has evolved from traditional spreadsheets to data/systems/dashboard driven processes and a lot of what I’ve done is finding ways to improve the processes with higher efficiency and effectiveness.
What’s the end goal? My end goal is to reach the CFO-CEO level. One of my mentors have advised me that I can either move up the rank through operations to become a CEO or follow the finance path and make a CFO-CEO jump. So I decided to follow finance path although I didn’t have a background. I use what I learned from IE to leverage my position within the finance organization.
Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – No matter how old you are or how high you rank in an organization, there is almost always a boss above you and you may get some constructive criticisms (or a little bit of yelling and harsh words) from your boss. You just have to come back stronger if you fail.
Least favorite thing about corporate – the external consultants and the amount of money we spend on them.
My 2 cents – Don’t ever stop learning!