Dan Sweet

How to succeed as a finance guy.

I’m sixth months into my first full-time role at P&G.  It is the proverbial drinking from a firehose that I was promised, hence no posting.  During my transition into the company I’ve been asking various folks around the company what success looks like for a finance manager at P&G.  The most compelling response I received is reproduced in the graphic below:

Innovative models, sophisticated analyses, and leading large-scale change.  These are the top of the pyramid elements that we typically associate with high caliber finance professionals.  However, without a firm foundation, the most sophisticated pieces of analysis will go nowhere.  Finance people without integrity aren’t worth much, hence the internal controls piece.  You also can’t make meaningful assumptions if you can’t trust your organization and the people in it.  Owning sound internal controls is the key to ensuring the numbers you work with can be counted on and will be taken seriously by others.  Delivering the business results is the other key piece of the foundation.  Finance managers at P&G are true business partners.  They aren’t just accountants and they don’t just “run the numbers” on ideas that get passed down the chain.  Finance folks are typically present early on  and have significant input at all stages of the planning process.  As a result, finance managers own the business results right along with the sales force, the marketers, and general management.  Once the foundation of sound internal controls and consistent business results is in place, then feel free to trot out your latest greatest data visualization techniques or sophisticated model.  Ignore at your own peril.

3 Comments

  1. George says:

    So when you say “100% financial controls” are referring to personal attention to detail i.e. not ever making any errors?

    Anyway, I’m a finance guy myself at much smaller firm, but still an industry leader. I only wish we were partners with rest of the organization. We’re definitely more of a “run the numbers group”. Contribution of ideas is nil.

    I think my next position will have to be firm with a more cohesive structure.

  2. Dan Sweet says:

    George,

    Thanks for the comment. I definitely don’t mean never making mistakes. We all make mistakes. This is more of an integrity and internal controls piece of the foundation. You can’t ever misrepresent things, omit things, or approve things you haven’t really looked into.

    The way to become regarded as someone who does more than run the numbers is to know your industry, product, consumers, and competitors as well as the rest of your business partners do. With an RSS reader and 15 minutes a day you can easily keep up on current events in your industry, and with a little self study on the side, and a few books or trade publications you can transform “no, it doesn’t pay out” into “did you ever think about doing it this way?” Best of luck.

  3. George says:

    Thanks for the advice, Dan! I had no clue an RSS reader could be so useful.

Leave a Reply