This Episode Features FP&A Insights & Commentary from:
Chad Gold, CFO, SalesLoft
Maria Manrique, CFO, O’Reilly Media
Harmit Singh, CFO, Levi Strauss & Co.
Andrew Kenny, CFO, Scoular
This podcast has been made possible by Prophix software inside the financial planning and analysis realm. Long days often turn into long weeks for finance professionals in pursuit of strategic insight. However, among the FP and a rank and file there’s one clan, unlike any other. When it comes to capturing strategic insight, they may go by any number of names, but we call them Planning ACEs on today’s show,Read More
we’ll be featuring F P and a insights and commentary from four finance leaders, including CFO, Chad gold of sales loft, CFO, Maria Manrique of O’Reilly Media.
Harmeet Singh of Levi Strauss and company and CFO, Andrew, Kenny of schooler. Hello, it’s Jack
Sweeney, cohost of planning ACEs, and I’m joined by top consultant, Steve player, who will serve as our
cohost and resident thought leader. As we seek to highlight the takeaways from our distinguished group of
planning ACEs, we begin after this, your business is evolving and the way you plan and report needs to
evolve as well.
0 (1m 40s):
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0 (2m 22s):
Welcome to planning ACEs episode one and permit permit me to dispatch an alert here, calling Steve player,
calling Steve player.
2 (2m 34s):
Well you sound well, Mike.
0 (2m 35s):
Excellent. Steve player is with us. Now, Steve, we going to talk about how to advance from the FP and a role
into the CFO role, or are we going to talk about targets relative targets versus arbitrary targets? Or are we
going to talk about today? Rolling forecasts, just, just click the switch, which switch will it be?
2 (2m 59s):
That’s an easy, that’s an easy switch. Well, we can do that, Jack. We also can talk about kind of what we’re
trying to do with planning, ACEs. I know we’ve never really talked about the show
0 (3m 7s):
Spot on Steve, and this is a great time to do that. This is our opener first episode and the audience is
probably scratching their heads. What are we up to you’re as passionate about this subject as anybody I’ve
ever met, the idea that we’ll be able to collaborate here and produce a show regularly going forward. It’s very
exciting to me, but I would love just to have you share a few thoughts as well,
2 (3m 35s):
Jack, the way, what I like about the show and the reason I agreed to do it with you. I always love chatting
with you all the time. It’s always fun, but I really thought there’s so much noise out there about FP and a and
all the different stuff. There’s, there’s a lot of stuff for people to get through. And what this show has the
ability to do is elevate the discussion. And the reason I’m happy to press dissipate with you is because I
think we can really elevate the discussion for one thing, you are drawing from a rich treasure trove of true
financial leaders, everybody on your show and the CFO thought leader is a CFO. So by whatever, by
whatever way they got there, they have risen to that, that ultimate pinnacle in finance world of being the
2 (4m 18s):
Now, from all those CFOs you interview, then we’re able to pull a select group out and say, these are, these
are our planning, ACEs. These are the ones that we’re going to spend some more time and highlight and
aluminate and share with Broadway artists. So this, our show is a curated show of the best of the best taking
that whole aspect of CFO and photos, focusing on the planning aspect and trying to pull out the people that
have got the ACEs, you know, recently reviewing some war, you know, with the pandemic. There’s been a
lot of time in front of YouTube and Netflix and Amazon prime and all the other services that are out there.
And so I was reviewing some of the, you know, the history things kind of, I like history a lot.
2 (5m 2s):
And I was looking a lot about world war II. There’s a whole lot of stuff about world war II. And it talked about
both in world war one and world war II aviation had really came on and they were really a lot of people in the
aviation world and the British air force. The Royal air force has known Churchill famously has said never,
never have so many owed so much to so few, but within the Royal air force, when you really study them, you
realize there are a lot of guys that just barely knew how to fly, but the guys that were really good became the
ACEs and the BNH. You had to shoot down five of the other guys. So that ACE was an earned title. It wasn’t
something that, that you got there because you’d been there longer, you were an ACE because you had a
certain set of skills.
2 (5m 43s):
And when we call the show planning, ACEs, what we’re really doing is saying we’re observing some people
that have got some, some lessons that they have learned. Some practices that they have exhibited that we
really want to share with the rest of the community, because we can all learn from them. We can, we can
take their wisdom and apply it into our situation. And that that’s the reason I’m excited about the show. I’m
excited about the different lessons. We’re going to be able to highlight in a little light and the fact that we can
take, you know, a month’s worth of interviews and come back to a short show, say, Hey, let’s give you the
best of the best and pull some specific lessons out and share with people.
0 (6m 17s):
Well, you know, I have to say why this is, I think a terrific pairing Steve, because I love being a reporter. I
love going out there interviewing executives, asking them questions and sort of drilling down on subject
areas. And now I can bring that, thinking that original thinking, perhaps provocative thinking or new
approaches being introduced in, in FP and a, I can bring it back to you and you can put it into context for us
as someone who’s been observing for quite some time, FP and a and FP and a professionals,
2 (6m 52s):
Jack. The reason I’m I’m, I’m excited about that is I know if for whatever reason we don’t pull the group. Now
you’ve got over 700 past episodes to pull from. So I don’t think we’re going to run out of material. Cause I
know there’s a lot of good stuff out there. We’ve got you. And I both are going to have to work to curate it
and pull it up to where it can be, can be viewed and discussed. But there’s a wealth of information. I don’t
think we’ll run on material at least for quite a while.
0 (7m 15s):
Yes. Well with, I think we’re up to 718 episodes, so we better get started. And as a matter of fact, let’s start at
the, at the top here. This is from episode seven 16. When we spoke with CFO, Chad gold of sales loft. Now
Chad really came up, the FP and a ranks at home Depot were at a point in time. He had been involved with
something like 20 different acquisitions, again, as an FP and a professional. He leaves home Depot after
wrap something like a seven year stretch. So he really makes an investment of time. There. He joins a Reba
as a, as a senior FP and a executive.
0 (7m 57s):
And is it, you know, it’s, it’s acquired by SAP. He ascends to become a CFO of SAP or Reba eventually
before going on and building his career and landing in the CFO spot at sales loft, you want to learn more
about Chad listened to episode seven 16, but right now we’re going to play some thinking he shared on FP
and a, this is Chad gold, CFO of sales loft.
3 (8m 32s):
Yeah, I think the biggest thing I learned really both from home Depot and an SAP was one is there are
certain foundational things in FP and a that you have to have. You have to have a forecasting process, no
matter how good it is. You have to be able to see where you’re going. You have to be able to understand
what happened in the past. And basically if you can’t do those things, you don’t do anything else. And so you
start with these building blocks. And part of what I learned was because we even had to do it at home Depot,
we had to build, you know, these basic things and really the business partnership and collaboration is the
most exciting, most fun part.
3 (9m 14s):
But it’s the last part because you got to get all these other elements in place because what makes you a
better business partner is having all those metrics and tools and forecast in front of you. So we, we are lean
and mean and FP and a at SalesLoft to, we did not have an FPA function when I got here. So that was one
of the things that I built right away was I hired a leader to run FP and a, and that we’ve been building the
team, you know, and you know, our first long-term model that we had here, I built myself and then I handed it
off and I don’t, they don’t want me to touch it anymore. They want me to stay out of it. There’s people, there’s
people way more capable than me, but what it was was it was, Hey, look, let’s build a model.
3 (9m 59s):
And this is probably the biggest difference that I learned that I’ve always deployed in. My companies build a
model that connects operational metrics that we run the business on to the financials and not just the P and
L but the, the income statement, the balance sheet, and of course cash, right? At the end of the day, you
have to be looking at cash because that’s how businesses breathe, especially when you’re growing really
fast. And so we built that model and then that allowed us to then have conversations with the business to
say, Hey, look, I need your operating metric in three years to be here so that my income statement can be
here and my cashflow can be here and it connects it all back because, you know, if you’re on, if you’re an
operator in the business, you’re just not close enough to some of, to the, to the outcome that happens in the
3 (10m 50s):
So you have to our job and finances to tie it back for them. And so we built that model here and we’ve just
been refining it over time. And then that’s allowed us to be even stronger business partners a lot. Aye. I think
the best advice I could give any new CFO is build your team, right? And you, you, hopefully, if you’ve, you
know, back to my comment about lines, not dots, you know, if you’ve built relationships throughout your
career, you might have people you can have join. You. I’ve been fortunate. I have my chief accounting officer
was someone that worked with me before. So a trusted partner, my head of FP and a here worked with me
at a Reba.
3 (11m 31s):
And so I was lucky to bring talent that I had worked with from other companies and then build around them.
And so, you know, what, what I found with with one is you’ve got to get the right people. But the other thing
you have to do is you have to say, okay, now tell me what you need to be successful. What systems do you
need? What, what blocker is? Can I personally in the business to make you successful? Because once you
get them here, I’m going to pave the road for you. And then I’m going to get out of the way, because I want
you to be able to really do what you came here to do, but you have to be intentional. I just, I think if you, if
you don’t have those conversations with people and understand what they’re motivated by, like one day
they’ll get up and say, I’m ready to go do something different and you never want that.
3 (12m 18s):
And so I, I’m really focused on understanding, Hey, you know what things are working well for you? What do
we need to do better? And then I always end my personal one-on-ones with my direct reports by saying,
what, what do you need from me? What can I do for you? And it’s not a loaded question it’s really meant to
say, you know, is there, is there some challenge you have, it can be. I’ve had people answer me with big
business challenges. I’ve had people want to talk about their personal life, but it’s just, Hey, w in the moment,
what can I do for you to help you?
2 (13m 2s):
Okay. So in the moment with Chad gold, who is talking a little bit about how he’s building relationships with
his team members, finance team members as a finance leader. Nice, nice personal detail there. I thought,
but Steve, what did you make
0 (13m 15s):
Of what Chad shared? He touched on quite a bit for a four minute clip.
2 (13m 20s):
Well, I had several Jack, let me just start with where he ended, because I think where he ends is a very
interesting point. If you notice what he’s exhibiting there is the, the attributes of a servant leader. You know, a
lot of people think the job of the leaders to get out front and raw and everything, but the best leaders are
servant leaders in that they spend the job serving the people that are working for them. And in that question,
when he’s asking, what can I do for you? That’s the very typical servant leader question where the boss is
saying, how can I support you? How can I make you better? And it’s a very interesting dynamic there that,
that he evidenced is. So well-known, you know, Chad’s, background’s a little different, he’s like a lot of
people you’re going to find.
2 (14m 3s):
I think a lot of our, our planning, ACEs, if you look through their long history, if you look back through their
career, they’ve spent some time in FP and a, and when I was reviewing Chad’s background, you know, I
noticed he had stints as the corporate FP and director at SAP or Reba, as he, as he kind of rose up prior to
that, he was the senior manager of FP and a at the home Depot. So when he’s taking on a role, this is a role
he knows very, very well in terms of what’s out there. Some other key points I brought out of his, you know,
as I was going through that, he started with a forecast. And I think for so many organizations that don’t have
any FP and a function at all, you’ve got to start with something very, very basic. And just start by putting
together a quick and simple forecast, we’ve got some training coming up on that kind of for our basic
2 (14m 50s):
I’ve just helps you the key decisions and get up and going, but start with some of that. And I remember the
CFO of LK is a good friend of mine. He made this 0.1 time that I always quote him on is that he knew when
he did his first core cast, he knew it was going to be bad. He knew it was going to be wrong, but he knew the
only way to get better was to put it out there and learn from it. And that’s the kind of mentality that all, all
finance people have that forecast may be totally terrible, but at least you’re going to learn something from it.
And then from that, you’re going to be able to make the next one better. And the next one, after that better
and better and better. So get started doing something with forecasting and his is Chad built out his teams
and kind of moved those forward.
2 (15m 31s):
Then after you’ve got something going in, there’s some basis of discussion. You can talk about how this can
convert into a team. That’s better at business partnering. That’s working closer with the, the people that
they’re trying to serve. And I think that’s a theme we’re going to find throughout our four people that we’re
featuring this time. They all take that focus of how do I have this team where it’s truly helping support
operations. This is not a finance thing being done to people. It’s not a, it’s not finances forecasts it’s done in
support with people and a lot of things in terms of how they meshed together there, how you pull the
operations together, how the operating metrics develop the financial numbers. Those things I think are kind
of really, really key. And then you look to build a team when you’re building that team.
2 (16m 13s):
You’re pulling people from a lot of different areas. And so the FP and a function is probably the most
well-rounded spot. You can come to learn about the business. And in many cases move to lots of other parts
of the business. You want them, if you want to advance in your company, if P and I role gives you a lot of
knowledge and a lot of learning, that’s going to position you to move forward and Chad’s journey through the
multiple companies that he’s led kind of evidence that, and certainly what he’s doing at his current company
0 (16m 42s):
Well, we have another, a FP and a finance career builder. Another planning, AEs who came up through the
ranks. This is from our episode featuring Maria men, Rica, CFO of O’Reilly media. Now she in her past was
hardcore FTNA inside fidelity investments, venture capital group, where she was a director. She was there
for six years, roughly was involved with quite a few startups and early stage companies along the way today
O’Reilly media is a midsize company, and what’s interesting.
0 (17m 22s):
She’s gotten very much focused on talent, but here she talks a little bit about FP and a talent. And Steve, I
thought you’d enjoy this. This is Maria Manary gay CFO of O’Reilly media.
4 (17m 41s):
Love that question because at O’Reilly, we I’m experimenting with something new and I’m not experimenting
anymore. I should say I experimented in 16 and 17 and it’s going really well. And the experiments, the focus
of the experiment was on giving everyone within define and sees a very broad mandate. That includes the
very technical work that most of them were doing around the accounting for the activities. And adding to that
more value, add activities around analytics and reporting out to the company and it’s worked incredibly well.
So I have a really hard time telling you who in my team is only accounting and only controllerships versus
only FP and a, because within their area of, of responsibility, everyone has everyone has a, his chain of
activities that go from the ledger, the general ledger to our monthly operating reports to our board reports in
terms of their ownership of what they’re doing and their ownership of reporting back on the impact on the
4 (18m 41s):
And there was also, we’re getting, and we’re incredibly proud of that. I think that it’s done great things for the
business, but even greater things for people’s careers. I think that I think that we’ve been able to retain a
very, very capable team in a very competitive labor market. And I think that’s the, that’s the secret to it, giving
them very meaningful jobs in terms of their impact on the organization. So I can give you an example. We
have a couple of team members within the finance team who work very closely with the marketing team to
understand our investment in customer acquisition, lifetime value, marketing efficiency.
4 (19m 24s):
And we have the similar relationships set up with other, with other departments with product and technology
and, and with the administrative functions. So we do have areas of it, pockets of expertise by function within
the finance team. And it’s a great partnership between the team and then our department,
0 (19m 52s):
Okay. From CFO, Maria of O’Reilly media, you know, Steve, her longer episode, you, you get
the sense of how passionate she was as an FP and a professional early on. If our listeners have not yet
heard that episode, they may not want to miss it. One of the interesting aspects, I think I mentioned it was a
mid-sized company, and of course, Steve inside mid-size firms, you have to be somewhat a little more
innovative when it comes to talent development, not having all the development programs that larger
enterprises do. And I think Maria is a good example of a leader who is willing to explore some new ideas
here. What did, what did you make of what she shared?
2 (20m 34s):
Well, it’s very interesting that connection with people is really, really critical with Maria’s situation. It was
really the comment she had about ownership and helping people, you know, giving them meaningful jobs
that had impact, and that with the emphasis on making sure that the FP and a team is having impact. And
you do that by making sure that the work you’re doing is not esoteric. It’s not just checking a box and filling
report. It is supporting decisions. Every report you do an FP and a should be in support of decision-making.
If you don’t see the decision making, then you’ve got to check, are we really having impact? And so you’re
trying to provide the information that, that, that supports people.
2 (21m 16s):
And at that point, it’s a whole lot easier to get that business partnering. We talked about earlier. It’s so much
easier to pull that together because you’re saying, what do you need? You’re not trying to make the decision
for somebody you’re trying to support them in their decision-making. So you’ve got to have a good dialogue
with the leadership and, and talking about, well, what information, what do we need to know to be able to
concretely decide one way or the other way or the third way that we could go. And so it’s really people that
meaningful job with ownership and then make sure it is having an impact in the decision making the, the
example she gave about the marketing team was a really good one where you know, the nice thing about F
Panna is you literally can move around and learn key aspects of business.
2 (21m 56s):
If you’re young in your career, it’s a great place to be because when you get up with a marketing team, well,
what kind of key decisions that marketing teams need to make? What they need to know about what the
cost of customer acquisition is huge. Number hugely important to figure out if the business model is actually
going to work, they need to understand the lifetime value of the customer. That means how, how much did
we make off of each one? How long do we keep them? And again, these mathematics, these algorithms are
key metrics that show us whether or not our business model is going to be able to be sustainable. And as
our business model and model evolves and change, we get new products and all those metrics are
changing. So get in there and work closely with the people that are in charge of those things and help them
understand, you know, and learn, understand the metrics in terms of what’s out there.
2 (22m 38s):
And the key metrics of each of these different jobs. If you move from marketing over to product
development, you’re going to be looking at product life cycle, how long it takes to development, how long it
takes to launch. There are so many different parts of the business that each have their own set of custom
metrics that are part of the things, but it all comes back to supporting decision-making. And that’s what the,
the best FP and a team is. The one that’s out there working hand in hand with people in operations and
people in finance, supporting decision-making.
0 (23m 10s):
Well, Steve, another recent finance leader, we were pleased to have participate with us was Harmeet Singh,
CFO of Levi Strauss and company. And it was an interesting time to speak to Harmeet because Levi Strauss
is becoming very much focused on selling online in suddenly it’s FP and a team is getting very much
involved with measuring the customer experience and activity and everything that goes into online selling.
So that’s a big switch at Levi Strauss. As many people know, they do continue to sell through retailers and
they have their own retail stores as well.
0 (23m 55s):
But there’s a lot of activity now, of course, and a lot of companies have woken up to the fact that they really
need a robust selling environment online. And that’s so Harmeet is really leading that charge. And so is this
FP and a team. Now we, we were asking army to look back in time for us. And because he came up through
the FP and a ranks himself, and we thought it’d be interesting just to have him reflect a little on how FP and
a, the role of FP and a and organization has changed. So this is me. I was drilling down, I think I asked the
same question twice and he came back.
0 (24m 38s):
I think he was a little exasperated, but he was like, you know what, here, here’s what I’ll say. And so in any
case, we were real pleased. He was kind enough to answer our questions again, CFL, Harmit, Singh, CFO
of Levi Strauss and company.
5 (25m 0s):
Yeah. So, you know, I spent my time in FP and a over the years, and it’s a great, you know, feed of function
to the CFO role, but it’s good to have an experience across all functions. I think the FP and a function today
is a lot different than it was years ago in a couple of ways. One, you know, ensuring you’re looking at leading
metrics is more critical than lagging. It’s not only important to report performance against certain benchmark,
whether it’s plan, whether it’s last year, whether it is a forecast, but also to understand what, you know, what
are the areas that will drive future performance.
5 (25m 48s):
I mean, you know, one of the things that I like to, you know, start a discussion either with the executive team
or with the board is the first page is what’s working and what’s not, and there’s more than pure numbers. And
that is generated from the FP and a team because it’s easier to quantify. What’s working. It’s more difficult to
understand what’s not, but the what’s not is to determine how the things that, what are the areas we have to
focus on to take the business to the next level. So leading metrics is important. The second is very important
to connect the dots. And so, you know, we have ensured that our teams, even during the pandemic, as we
look back, did two things.
5 (26m 31s):
One is, you know, managing through the crisis was, is all about protecting profits and preserving cash. But it
was also about how do you emerge stronger? And they emerged stronger bucket was around market share
around improving profitability, ensuring we were investing so that, you know, when we get to the other side,
we come out a much stronger business, et cetera, et cetera. So the SPNA team is a group now that is
focused on things that are beyond the basic numbers. Also the best FPNL teams in my view, folks who
actually understand the business and do they, my group is largely made up of people.
5 (27m 15s):
Who’ve actually worked in the, in the field in different businesses was, is a team that actually grew up in
corporate. And I think that makes a huge difference. So I think talent is critical. The way the metrics that
you’re looking at are critical. And the third is making sure that, you know, you’re looking at how the business
is performing with a bit of a, you know, a perspective on the future as against the past.
0 (27m 53s):
Wow. Now that’s music to Steve player’s ears. I think he’s, he’s channeling Steve player. He’s on the bow of
the boat. Steve, he’s not at the stern. So, so what do you make of what Harmeet shared with us?
2 (28m 7s):
Well, let me, let me first do something. I do very rarely, often cause it really often than I have to, but let me
correct you. He wasn’t parroting me. He was parroting. I was, I was parenting him. And so many other CFOs
that I’ve learned from the reason I listened to your program, Jack is because these guys are very good and
they’re very free to share their information. So I’m just, I’m just trying to be a good listener. I try to make sure
that I absorb and I will readily admit I borrow the best ideas anywhere I can find them. And I urge our
listeners to take the exact same approach, take these ideas and take them back and use them in terms of
where you’re out there and what you’re trying to do. But really that, that, you know, the, the whole thing of, of
what drives business performance, looking at the biggest takeaway I took from that, the end of there is he
finished was the leading indicators.
2 (28m 59s):
What you want to look at is not, I mean, finance, if you think about it, we spend so much of our time. As I
describe it in my presentations is staring off the back of the boat. We’re looking at the score, we’re looking at
what has happened and we’re doing the reporting and we can only the thing we can do there is we yell over
our shoulder. It’s the captain up there trying to steer the ship, Hey, we’re going about this fast? And we may
be turning there. Just not a lot of the value you can add staring off the back of the boat. You got to get from
those lagging indicators. And that’s what most after the fact financials are, they’re lagging indicators. They’re
there where we have been, and you gotta turn around and see the game ahead of you and figure out where
do we really want to go? And what are the decisions that FP and a can help support that?
2 (29m 40s):
Talk about the health of where you want to go. If we spend as much time analyzing our sales pipeline, our
lead funnel, our contact list and our conversion rates, as we do actually analyzing the actual results, we
might be a whole lot better at figuring out our real, a health and B forgot what we can do to make that
healthy, even better in terms of what’s out there. So that his point that he makes about you can tell he’s been
a CFO of a lot of places for a long time. You don’t keep rising in your career like he has without being,
helping a lot of people. And he has a tremendous diversity of experience across the different industries that
he’s worked in. But you do that by listening to customers and learning, to look for the leading indicators and
getting your FP and a team out there, working with people on what’s going to make the business better.
2 (30m 27s):
You know, that’s a take much to figure out what killed, you know, if something’s not healthy, it doesn’t take
much to figure out what went wrong. The more important part is what can you do to make it right? What can
you do? Where are the investments you need to make? What’s the returns, what’s the opportunities, where’s
the gaps, those leading the approaches. Those leading indicators are much more important to where we’re
really trying to get to and where we’re trying to go. And that’s, that’s the most important part of, of that is
having that opinion, again, working again, the teams, our business, partnering by working in support of the
people, making decisions, but you have a lot more impact on those forward looking decisions than you do
the ones in the past.
0 (31m 5s):
Yes. And, and looking forward again, what I mentioned regarding the move to online selling, it’s an
interesting pivot for Levi Strauss. And it’s one that clearly the pandemic has helped accelerate.
2 (31m 23s):
Well, you’ve got your website. I mean, if you look at the pivot, we’ve certainly made just this rapid, I mean,
we’ve gone through 10 to 15 years of, of activity shifting to online in 15 months, instead of 15 years, it
literally has shifted forward there. And so freight for a company like Levi. Yeah. That online channel is now so
much more important to understand. And so take those talented people and pivot them that the good thing
about online is it’s a much more data rich environment. There’s a lot more, a lot more places you can get
feedback in terms of what’s out there. So, but again, the number one thing in finance and particularly in the
FBNA team is being agile, being able to pivot the reason I don’t like annual budgets is because they’re just
too darn slow.
2 (32m 4s):
They’re too slow for the world we live in. And so you’ve got to move to a, a continuous rolling forecast,
looking forward to what you think is going to happen with a set of action plans to Mo to move you to where
you want to go. And then on top of that, I set a scenario plans for any major contingencies that could
radically shift the direction. So again, we’ve got to get w we got to think a lot harder work a lot harder, but it’s
going to be a lot more rewarding when we get there.
0 (32m 29s):
Well, Steve, you’re going to, you’re going to like our next planning ACE, who happens to be Andrew Kenny
CFO of schooler. Now schooler is a logistics supply chain company that specializes in the grain animal feed,
pet food, agriculture segment of the food industries and Andrew Kenny arrives. It’s sort of the classic finance
transformation story. You have a new CFO, who’s been, who’s stepping in and he realizes he’s got a finance
function from the last century. And he gets to from the bottom up, create one for this century.
0 (33m 10s):
So it’s a great episode that we enjoyed, but I thought this particular segment you would find interesting,
Steve, and I’ll just tee it up here. This is Andrew Kenny CFO of schooler.
5 (33m 27s):
The organization had alcohol lightly dabbled in aspects of FP and a in the past, but had never truly
committed to it. And so I brought in a global director of FP and a who reports directly to me put in a team of
FP and a under that an FP and a lead in each for each of the divisions. So we had that as well as an overall
corporate FP and a leader. And so we built that out, but I knew it was really important for the business to be
able to fully embrace it, that I needed to have that embedded in each of the divisions. So the way we
ultimately structured it was at P and a reports directly to my finance director for each division, with a dotted
line, into our global head of, of FP and a, when I first came into the school or I really focused on listening and
5 (34m 26s):
So I could be in that position to lead. And, and what I learned through all that was there was nothing wrong
with, you know, the way the finance department worked in the past. However, there was no way the finance
team could be able to stay status quo and really be able to adequately serve the needs of the company of
the future that we’re building for. You know, and actually schooler would not be able to grow the way we
want, unless the finance team underwent a transformation. And as finance, we played such a key role in
enabling that type of growth. And what I focused on Jack to be able to get that sort of visibility was business
partnering, but also our foundation and a big part of that foundation was being able to partner with prospects,
to put in a leading CPM software, to be able to allow us to efficiently advance our capabilities as finance and
scale this across the enterprise.
5 (35m 24s):
And as you know, it’s, it’s not just as a tool. So we also stood up an FPA group, brought in a mix of, of talents
really from across the industry to get that stood up. And on the same day we signed the, are I signed the
deal with the prospects to get that in is where I had three people on the, in 18 starting. So we were ready to
truly hit the ground running.
2 (36m 1s):
What should have been my next question, Andrew, what would you have recommended? I was trying to
understand better whether there was a method to that the FP and a people being distributed rather than
there at corporate. So he can swing open the conference room door and pick their brains. But he’s, he’s
today building a fairly distributed finance team and FP and a team. Well, let me tell you a little bit of story that
definitely when I heard him speak about that, it triggered something in my own life. I’ll share with the group,
and then I’ll come back and answer your question and what you should, you should have asked him. I had a
summer tasks early in my career was a major break point for me. I had convinced the management team,
the consulting leadership at Arthur Anderson to allow me to form an advanced cost management team with a
mission of being the best in the world.
2 (36m 52s):
I mean, we were all day shift. We were going to go build the best team in the world. And he asked me how I
was going to do that. And I said, I’m going to go hire a dozen of the best people in the world. We’re going to
focus on the cost management. We’re going to write about it. We’re going to talk about we’re going to work
with our client at laid out a plan for him. And he got really excited. Chuck ketamine was the boss. At the time
he got real excited and said, you know, well, when are you going to have them all here? And I said, wait a
minute, check what you mean? He says, well, how soon are you going to get them here to Dallas? We were
both living in Dallas at the time. And I said, Chuck, I can go hire the 12 best cost management people in the
world and build this practice. Or I can go hire the 12 best cost management people in the world who want to
live in Dallas, Texas.
2 (37m 35s):
And I got to tell you, this group here is a lot smaller to pick from then this group over here, if you want the
best in the world, we’re going to have to start talking about this was what is the days before virtual teams
actually happened? So he understood that to get the best I had to have him. I didn’t have to try to move him
to Dallas because that would have been an almost impossible task, simply because people live where they
want to live because they have family because what’s going on. What we’re all going to go through real
quickly, Jack, with this new model of work is people come back together. People have spent 15 months living
in a hybrid world, living, working remotely. And so everybody’s not going to want to rush back to the office.
So we, we, as a country are going to have to go through a lot of soul searching and new business models to
find ways appropriate for people to work.
2 (38m 19s):
But if you have talent, you need to try to find ways to accommodate that talent. The question that that, that I
would have asked Andrew in terms of following up was I understand why he puts those people there. You
want to put your people, particularly your team. Nevine white had the same issue when she ran a budgetless
operation for TW telecom, one of the best FP and a organizations had ever seen half her people were in the
field close to their business units. There’s an old saying about, gets close to the sound of the guns. You want
to be up there on the front line. You can support those frontline people better if you’re in the same offices
with them. So putting his people in those division headquarters makes all the sense in the world.
2 (39m 0s):
To me, the challenge becomes though, is if those people are distributed the same challenge, we’re all going
to have in the hybrid world that we’re all working is if everybody’s distributed and you can’t walk out and talk
to them, how do you create a team? How do you create camaraderie? How do you manage their
productivity? And you know, what, what do you do to create a situation where there will, you know, there has
productive and successful and they are feeling supported even though they’re remotely. You’re not seeing
them every day. So the managers challenge again, back to that first comment we made earlier, when we
started this about the servant leadership, you know, you got to figure out how can I be a servant leader, even
though people are remote for one thing, make sure you hire the best people.
2 (39m 40s):
I had a point when I hired somebody. If I couldn’t trust them to be a self-starter and go do their thing, I was
hiring the wrong people. It was that simple. I just needed to make sure that we were all succeeded and had
the work in front of us. So everybody was reporting on how we were getting the work done, because it was
part of the team, everybody having their own metrics. We had an open transparency where literally our
productivity, we were each reported every two weeks, but everybody’s productivity was shared with
everybody else on the team. So if somebody wasn’t out on the job, working, being chargeable, it became
apparent to everybody. And everybody went to pitching in trying to help that person find some work to make
sure. Cause, cause it has a, has a group. I was, our success was based on everybody pulling a different,
2 (40m 23s):
Everybody had different internal projects we’re doing so we’re tracking those as well. So there are ways to
track these things. It takes a more active management. There are ways to manage virtual teams and we’re
all going to learn how to do that or we’re going to get left behind. Let’s just the requirement. They, so the
question I would have asked Andrew was how are you keeping that team together and cohesive, even
though you’ve got them spread across a lot of cities, his cities weren’t as diverse as the, when I was working
people coast to coast. So I know he can hit those Minnesota, Minneapolis and Omaha and Omaha aren’t
that far apart. So it’s all, it’s all in that Southwest corridor.
0 (40m 60s):
I was also maybe somewhat surprised he made the technology platforms, such an important component of
his approach to the transformation. Not a surprise for you. Perhaps
2 (41m 14s):
I will tell you this Jack technology is a key for everybody in doing this. If you’re trying to do this on Excel,
spreadsheets, love Microsoft love Excel spreadsheets, but it is not a collaborative platform for doing FP and
a work. Okay. It’s great for a solo. But when I used to tell people, once you’ve got two people using Excel,
you need to move on to something else. Okay? So, but once you get a platform and it works for you, people
get very delighted. They’re there. Th th they talk about that because it’s like, it’s my buddy. It’s my friend.
That piece of software made my life easier. It’s doing all kinds of things for me that I never knew I needed to
be done. So, so it doesn’t surprise me that people like a piece of software, if it’s really, really working for
2 (41m 57s):
And obviously if they’re mentioned it, they’re happy about it. So that’s that if you’re a, if you’re a software
vendor, that’s what you want. You want customers that are happy to tell everybody what they’re using
because every day your people are delighting them in what they, what they can do functionally. And so that’s
the bar that I set for all the software vendors out there who were software agnostic. I want to basically urge
all the software and make sure that the, your, your customer loves you so much, that he’s going to advertise
for you without being prompted, make them like Harley Davidson, make them want to wear your t-shirt, you
know, make them want to buy your gears and let everybody know what their brand is because they’re so
happy with the brand.
2 (42m 37s):
Okay. We’ll be back after this advertisement for Harley. Okay.
0 (42m 44s):
So Steve, before we go, I want to, well first say thank you for our first episode here, we’re near the finish line,
but I also want it to give you the opportunity. We won’t do this every time, by the way, but I wanted to give
you the opportunity to update everybody as to your events and where they can find you these days. What
happened during COVID. Again, anybody involved in the conference arena really had come up with some
new approaches. What was the story for beyond budget?
2 (43m 15s):
Like everybody else we had to re-examine our business, which used to be focused on bringing people
together and meetings and discussions of fourth, obviously for March on March, 2020 on none of that’s
happened. And while there are some conferences beginning to reschedule, I’ve got a couple of key notes.
One that I was supposed to do in Orlando at the end of September, has gone virtual, the lean accounting
summit. Another I’m still standing to speak at, which is the AFP associates for finance professionals, their
annual show in, in DC, in, in November, I’m sorry, Jack giving you free advertising away, but I’m going to be
out and about to those things. But our business has really shifted to where we’ve gone to providing a series
of ongoing workshops.
2 (43m 56s):
So we’re doing introductory one hour introductory webcast to help people learn about a topic like rolling
forecast or impactful reports or an awesome FP. And a, and then we have a four hour workshop. These
workshops are composed of one hour modules for one hour modules that are very interactive. And we’re
taking these workshops that we use often in our consulting. Our consulting has gone to much more of a
coaching type model, where we’re working with teams on a virtual basis where we’re kind of doing interval
coaching, where once a week, we’re coming for a status report where we talk about what we, what we have
brought forward to that, the, to make decisions, talk about what we’re going to get done. And then the teams
are working on homework in the interim period, kind of back and forth.
2 (44m 38s):
Cause most of those teams or everybody on the call is virtual. It’s not like we’re, we’re talking to a team at a
corporate office. They’re all spread out in different places. So we’ve had to learn how to work with, with all
kinds of different teams, some disperse, some not, and figure out how to get stuff done while we’re all
working remotely. So it’s a challenge I look forward. I mean, I will be back on the road again. I’m, I’m, I’m
eager, I’m fully vaccinated. So I’m taking all the precautions, but you know, it’s, the FPI world is constantly
evolving. So we’ve always gotta be, be tackling new ways. And I mean, planning, ACEs is a new way to
reach people with some, some best practice. So I’m excited to participate and use this form to, to help get
the word out.
0 (45m 20s):
Okay, well, this, this forum is a podcast known as planning, ACEs, and it’s not just one episode. It’s a
season. Are we up for this team? What do you think?
2 (45m 31s):
I don’t think that’s, I don’t think that’s a problem for you and me.
0 (45m 50s):
Don’t forget your right corporate performance management software can help your organization advance
down. The evolutionary care planning. ACEs is made possible by profit software to learn how Prophix is
helping 1500 global companies transform the way they work visit go.prophix.com/
About Steve Player |
Steve Player serves as the Managing Director of Future Ready Finance. He also leads the Beyond Budgeting Round Table North America (BBRTNA) working with companies to implement continuous planning processes. Steve has over 30 years experience improving performance management. He is the co-author of Future Ready: How to Master Business Forecasting and Beyond Performance Management as well as five other books on cost and performance management. Working with the CFOThoughtLeader.com website, Steve cohosts the Planning Aces podcast which features innovative planning approaches.
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