503: Reaching More Ears with the Universal Language of Finance | Ryan Hymel, CFO, Playa Hotels & Resorts

Listen to the Episode Below (00:43:33)

A number of years after he first joined the lodging and hospitality industry, Ryan Hymel recalls being confronted by a fork in the road. Having labored deep inside his company’s M&A growth engine, he realized that his native tongue would curtail his career opportunities as the company’s appetite for growth became increasingly focused on Mexico and Latin America.

“While I can get by conversationally in Spanish, I knew that there was no way that I would excel when it came to speaking with potential acquisition targets and partners, ” says Hymel, who opted instead to master the language of finance and entered the ranks of FP&A professionals, where he set about learning the intricacies of the company’s forecast model while carefully observing the decision-making criteria behind capital allocation and how a decision made in one part of the organization could impact all parts.

“For me, it was important to learn how these different worlds bridge each other internally–because in large organizations, it’s hard sometimes to even talk to one another, and this was my first experience in seeking to bridge the gap,” says Hymel, who clearly views finance as a powerful tool when it comes to helping organizations to speak the same language.

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CFO GUEST: Ryan Hymel

COMPANY: Playa Hotels & Resorts PLYA (NASDAQ)

HEADQUARTERS: Netherlands

CONNECT: www.playaresorts.com/

CFOTL: What has Playa’s finance function begun to do differently?

Hymel: A couple of years ago–with an eye toward the theme of making sure that we can support the business–we started putting in monthly results meetings, if you will, and roundtable discussions. I’m sure that there are probably some listeners that would say, “That’s pretty obvious,” but it’s something that we weren’t doing.

This is a call that we have where we review the results. It’s a lot of different key constituents and stakeholders within our organization, starting with sales and marketing; with the operators, both on a regional and local basis; sometimes the general managers; and the accounting teams. We discuss not just the historical results, but also the forecast. We talk about key trends. It allows us to share information so quickly and rapidly; it would take us way too long to get on the phone with each other individually.

It helps me to do my job better because I speak with investors along with our head of investor relations. People are able to hear in real time: “Here’s how the business is trending. Yes, this is how it performed last month. Here’s what I’m seeing in the next couple of weeks to months out. Here are some of the things that we’re doing at the local level to control costs or enhance the guest experience.”

It seems very simple, but it was one of those times when we almost kicked ourselves, and we looked at ourselves and said, “How the heck were we not doing this earlier?” It’s been great for the last couple of years to allow us to share information more readily. I know that it seems simple, but it’s something that I can’t recommend enough–to allow people to speak in real time. jb