FP&A Today

FP&A Today is the podcast for Financial Planning and Analysis. The weekly show dives into the challenges and opportunities within the world of FP&A, interviewing FP&A leaders, CFOs and other finance pros in order to give you the freshest insights and takeaways. Each week our top guests provide actionable advice about financial planning and analysis – from career goals to navigating challenges, and powerful Excel tips. Our weekly show provides unrivalled insights for navigating FP&A. FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails. Datarails is the financial planning and analysis platform that automates data consolidation, reporting and planning, while enabling finance teams to continue using their own Excel spreadsheets and financial models. Get in touch at www.datarails.com

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3 hours ago

Ed Hyer, as VP FP&A at Verizon, built one of the most ambitious centers of excellence (COEs) undertaken in finance. 
Put simply, a center of excellence centralizes similar types of work into a single entity. While relatively common for payroll functions or “back-end transactional work”, FP&A presented an altogether bigger challenge for the COE concept. 
The creation of Verizon’s Center of Excellence at the  $134 billion revenue 118,000 employee company counts as one of the most audacious challenges undertaken in FP&A–ultimately comprising 175 professionals, took more than a year to complete and fanning through 24 different waves  transformation to take effect. Though the impetus from the beginning was on proving the concept could work, Verizon's FP&A COE has now transformed the business in impactful and unexpected ways.
“I remember one case, where someone showed there were 16 different processes here. He said he could  get it down to two, and I've just saved myself six hours on workday one. It didn't require any new tools or technology.
In this must-listen to episode Hyer reveals the secret of Verizon’s FP&A transformation:In this episode:
How my passion for FP&A was lit compared to other finance work
Leading FP&A for some of the biggest US companies including Hertz and Verizon
The “why” of creating an FP&A CoE - and it is not just about cost saving
The lessons of building a Center of Excellence
How COE-building places finance teams at the vanguard of automation
The  oh-crap moment when building the COE
Heretical answer on his favorite Excel function‼
Ed Hyer/LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-hyer/
Paul Barnhurst LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/thefpandaguy/Datarails LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/datarails

Tuesday Nov 28, 2023

“One of the myths I'd love to dispel is that nonprofits are not strategic. People think we aren’t forward thinking or just scrapping for change and trying to get things done. I've had the honor of working with organizations where we really focus on our mission in a nonprofit context in a very strategic way.”
You don’t want to miss this masterclass with Amy Omand. Omand is Fractional CFO, at 7 Seat Consulting, working with not for profits getting from early to mid-stage growth. In this episode she reveals her journey from managing FP&A at Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream (bought by Nestle) to former CFO of New Schools Venture Fund and setting up her business focused on not-for-profits.
In this episode: 
Dreyer's ice cream Budgeting Experience - the problems that can melt financial analysis with a new ice cream line launch
Passion for K12 education and the finance factor in education
The differences-and similarities- between nonprofit and "for profit" FP&A 
Why cash is (still) king at nonprofits 
Restrictions placed on how money is spent by nonprofits
Taking Revolution Foods, a Healthy School Lunch Company, through their first B Corporation certification
Why Metallica works best for budget and modeling
The comfort in numbers
NotesThe Social Responsibility of Business: Kelly McElhaney. https://executive.berkeley.edu/kellie-mcelhaney
Follow Amy Omand on LinkedIn

Tuesday Nov 21, 2023

Christian Martinez, Finance Analytics Manager at Kraft Heinz  is an in-demand Conference Speaker and specialist who teaches a top-rated course, with (previous guest) Nicolas Boucher. In this episode discover the secrets about game changing uses of AI and Python for your FP&A career.
“We’re in the same era as when Excel was first invented,” says Martinez “There were people still using calculators and pens while others shifted to Excel and dramatically improved performance.”
In this episode: 
Why Python and Excel together at long last as a “game changer” for FP&A
“Explainable” AI in FP&A 
How AI is improving overall budgets and forecasting 
Can non-data science people jump right in with AI?
Getting comfortable being uncomfortable 
His path to a “boutique” course teaching practical application of AI in FP&A 
Why the best way to fully learn something is to teach it 
The most awesome uses of AI in FP&A
How Gen AI is going to change FP&A in 2024
Waterfall charts in Excel 
Follow Christian Martinez (LinkedIn): https://www.linkedin.com/in/christianmartinezthefinancialfox/
FREE COURSE – PYTHON FOR FP&A AND FINANCE. Curated by Christian Martinez
Advanced ChatGPT for Finance course by Christian Martinez and Nicolas Boucher

Tuesday Nov 14, 2023

Product led growth is a business strategy and philosophy that puts the product at the center and the key driver for customer acquisition, activation, adoption, and retention.  Parth Kulkarni, Head of FP&A, Adobe Express, recounts his chance to reimagine FP&A using product-led growth. He explains the process leading the FP&A team powering Adobe Express – a major new AI-driven product at the software giant (Adobe is competing with companies such as Canva and Microsoft Designer).
Kulkarni says: “We optimized different parts of the customer journey  by adopting product led growth. From an FP&A perspective it was a fantastic opportunity for me and my team to reimagine the way that we approached financial planning and, and supported the business.”
Describing the approach of FP&A underpinned by product-led growth, he says: “We tend to forecast based on historicals. But here we took a much more bottoms up approach in our modeling, starting with building forecasts and projections around every single critical upstream metric – whether it’s acquisitions, how customers are really engaging with the product, or what kind of conversion rates are we seeing in the product, or what kind of retention we are seeing. I got the opportunity to actually understand the customer journey, translate that into a financial model, and then build my financial planning around that.
Kulkarni, with training and a background in engineering,  recounts his path to FP&A and why a background in data analytics is a perfect route to a top job.
In this episode:
Kulkarni’s path from Data analytics to FP&A as Senior Manager of FP&A at eBay – business partnering with the Merchandising / Shipping & Logistics Business and Product Teams. Followed by his career at Adobe.
Moving from analytics to FP&A and why it is a perfect route
Four proven pillars to become a successful FP&A professional 
The tested formula to get a seat at the table in finance 
My framework for analyzing data to get the juiciest insights – SCQA framework explained
My aha moment in FP&A automating ecommerce/holiday space reports 
Tabla playing and love of Indian classical music
Steve Jobs and what we can learn about his relentless desire to understand the consumer
The SCQA framework explained by Parth
Follow Parth Kulkarni on LinkedIn
Catch the full episode on YouTube

Tuesday Nov 07, 2023

This follows one of our most popular ever episodes (episode 19: Budgeting all your questions answered). In this sequel episode, new and returning  guests answer all your new burning budget and forecasting questions and challenges. Joining us in the budget and forecasting war-room are: 
Alejandra Boggione, FP&A Manager and Senior Business Controller, FASTA
Follow ⏩https://www.linkedin.com/in/alejandraboggione/
Andrew Childress, FP&A Solutions Consultant Datarails (ex finance at Accupac, One Inc and Flint Group)
Follow ⏩https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewrchildress/
Annette deYoung, Senior FP&A Solutions Consultant, Datarails (ex finance at JL Clark, Berner Food & Beverage, Fairbanks Morse Engine)
Follow ⏩ https://www.linkedin.com/in/ahdeyoung/
Some of the questions tackled in this LinkedIn Live episode of FP&A Today (November 2023):
What’s budgeting and forecasting good for?
How do you approach budgeting in consulting firms?
Which type of budget process works best (top down or bottom up?)
How can FP&A be the bridge between the two?
How does the budget work in a startup?
What is the linkage between forecasting and the model?
How can finance best prepare for the budget ahead of time to avoid crazy late nights?
Revisiting the previous year’s budget – (what can be cut)?
How can you ensure alignment between the financial plan and operational plan?
Static annual budget versus a rolling forecast?
How do budgets help with inflation challenges?
How do you kickstart scenario planning?
How often should you reforecast?
FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails the AI-powered Financial Planning and Analysis platform for Excel users.

Tuesday Oct 31, 2023

From Camp Taji in Iraq, to Will Wheaton’s narration of Ready Player One, this is the story of Frank Aburto who helped build Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) at Audible. 
Frank Aburto, senior Director of Finance, leads strategic finance and FP&A at Audible the audio storytelling subsidiary of Amazon.
In his role, Aburto supports more than 150 partners across marketing and product where the FP&A function has been central to Audible's success in reaching millions of listeners around the world and becoming the largest player in the audiobook market (sales of audiobooks hit $1.8 billion in the US alone in 2022). 
In this episode:
How the military veteran applied his strategic skills learnt in Iraq, Hawai, and South Korea to finance and business 
Building FP&A at Audible through the "lens of the customer"
The one trait he looks for in a finance hire
Why understanding customers matters more than P&L metrics
The power of investment banking as a route to FP&A and finance leadership
Using SQL to get ahead in your career
Recommendations for your next Audible book 
How to get a finance job at Audible or Amazon
FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails. www.datarails.com 
Follow and connect with Frank Aburto: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fcaburto/
Watch the Full YouTube episode: https://youtu.be/9w-MfrBN6K0

Tuesday Oct 24, 2023

Airbase, a spend management company currently processes over $5 billion of annual payments on behalf of finance teams. It is a pain point Vallurupalli is all too aware of. "Moving to Airbase solved a challenge I had personally experienced at previous companies were there were 65 or 70 physical [credit]cards in a 300 person company and spend was not controlled. There was no way to forecast when someone was thinking of using a physical card, which was for anything at that time".
CFO Aneal Vallurupalli joins Paul, on Datarails' podcast FP&A Today, to talk about what CFOs increasingly require from the best in FP&A, his experiences of financial planning and analysis at previous companies, stretching from investment banking to series A companies and public companies.
In this episode:
• The importance of understanding the context and priorities when coming into a new company or role. There's always a rationale for why things were done a certain way before.• Building credibility and relationships across the organization by understanding pain points, providing value , and conveying industry expertise.• Moving from growth at all costs in SaaS to revenue growth• Why he has no single favorite financial metric to analyze a business. The most important metric is often "not financial" and varies by company.• How AI will displace some repetitive, manual tasks but not logic-based and contextual decision making which is core to finance roles.• Why having a hunger for knowledge as the most crucial way to win in your FP&A career - with most technical skills being "table stakes"
FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails.Read the full transcript: https://www.datarails.com/how-to-never-be-left-out-of-the-conversation-again-in-fpa-with-airbase-cfo-aneal-vallurupalli/Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/J0keFw4WPjM

Tuesday Oct 17, 2023

How is Microsoft using AI to reach up to 99% accuracy in some forecasts? In this episode of FP&A Today, Daniel Sousa-Lennox, a data scientist at Microsoft with deep experience of financial analysis, reveals all.
The Microsoft’s finance team – about 5000 people – saw its first foray into machine learning in forecasting. The team developed FINN (or Microsoft Finance Time Series Forecasting Framework) says Sousa-Lennox who sits within the finance organization, providing software engineering and data science expertise. Using machine learning and creating AI finance tools (such as FINN which has been open-sourced) Sousa-Lennox says the Microsoft finance team has replaced burdensome forecasting and Excel heavy lifting.  "The tool has helped, for instance, this one team in terms of accuracy to get the revenue that they were trying to forecast for an Azure product (the cloud computing platform run by Microsoft) to 99% accuracy".  But Sousa-Lennox adds that it is important to remember that AI is not "magic" and "wont lead to 99% in every single forecast" and the quality of data is paramount.
Nevertheless the results are transforming financial forecasting at the $2trillion company.
FINN alone provides access to 25+ models supporting Microsoft’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly forecasts, transforming the approach of FP&A.
Sousa-Lennox says: “It takes on average for a forecast used run using our tool, it takes about an hour to an hour and a half, which is significantly less than a week [previously]. It is also an hour and a half where you don’t have to be actively doing anything.”
In this episode Daniel Sousa-Lennox shares:
Similarities and differences between FP&A in US and Panama (and banking vs Microsoft)
Getting  an internship to full-time career at Microsoft
How he trained in Data science and technology
How to evangelize finance teams into adopting AI
How Microsoft is transforming its forecasting and FP&A
Despite its success why AI is not a “magic bullet” for finance
The two most powerful lessons in presenting AI to finance teams
The biggest advice for anyone starting in FP&A
Last thing finance thing I Googled ChatGPT’d
My favorite Excel function
Follow Daniel Sousa-Lennox: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dsousalennox/
FINN (Open-sourced by Microsoft): https://microsoft.github.io/finnts/

Tuesday Oct 10, 2023

Worldwide spend on cloud infrastructure hit a staggering $169 billion in 2022 with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) combined, accounting for 62 percent of the cloud market share. In its first quarter of this year revenue from AWS totaled $21.35 billion, representing almost 17% of Amazon’s overall revenue. What lessons can we learn from within AWS about effective cloud financial management? How can FP&A teams better understand this complex line item? We are joined by Jeff Duresky, Senior FinOps Commercial Architect, Amazon AWS. He is a finance leader who supports the cloud leader’s largest and most strategic customers – and has also held strategic FP&A roles at companies including Capital One.
“As a finance professional the more you understand cloud, the better the insights you’ll be able to drive” – Jeff Duresky
In this episode
Jeff’s worst budget experience (aka professional service accrual releases).
The link between cloud financial management and FP&A
trading fixed expenses in cloud 
Smart decisions related to cloud expenditures and management 
Common cost language – how to get it right 
Secrets to cloud forecasting 
Promoting the best finance and engineering team conversations around the cloud 
Finding reductions in costs for cloud users
Core metrics to assess and unit costs (cost per gigabyte, cost per instance)
First steps to begin forecasting cloud costs
My biggest finance strategic moment 
The last finance thing I googled
The importance of taking notes in a career in FP&A
How to establish and drive a forecasting culture 
How to talk about cloud with a non-cloud audience (business partnering)
The Key to AWS Optimization
Follow and connect with Jeff Duresky on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffduresky/
FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails, Datarails is the AI-powered financial planning and analysis platform.  Keep your own Excel financial models and spreadsheets and benefit from AI for data consolidation, reporting and planning.

Tuesday Oct 03, 2023

The market for pet brands is enormous. Two-thirds of American households own a pet and collectively spent $136.8 billion on them in 2022. In this market, Chewy is winning the hearts of owners. The pet-food, health, and supplies company is famous for providing portraits, gifts, free food, and handwritten notes that delight pet owners. In this episode, Matthew Herbert, Chewy Director of Finance, reveals the FP&A undercoat that keeps this Fortune 500 favorite purring.
Herbert says customer service at the company is in “my opinion the strongest moat within the organization…it has its own finance arm, and it has the backing and support of technology and other resources to make it successful because we really believe that we’re here to provide a delightful experience for our customers. Pets are part of the family, and we want our customers to know that we view them that way.”
In this episode:
How Chewy does FP&A
What KPIs does FP&A manage at Chewy and how its set up
Using data to help tell the story at Chewy
How Matt overcame adversity, such as being laid off and team conflicts faced
Leading FP&A at the fortune 500 high growth eCommerce company (i.e. Chewy)
Secrets to effective business partnering
Insights from 15 years of Investment Banking, Programming, Retail, Consumer Products, and eCommerce experience
The impact of being a self-taught programmer on a career in finance
Why finance remains the best role for strategic impact supporting C-Suite Executives
His brand-new training courses (https://biztrix.us/) based on best-in-class Excel, PowerPoint, Word, SQL and VBA experience
Follow Matthew Herbert on LinkedIn
Matthew’s training course at https://biztrix.us/

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