Plant Controller at a F500 - Ask me anything

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I've been a member of this site for a couple years now and have gotten some great information, so I'm hoping to give back based on my experience. I see many discussions around FLDP programs and finance career paths at F500's, and since controller is a step on the most common track to senior finance positions at the companies I've worked for (FLDP > SFA > Finance Manager > Plant Controller > Division Controller > Finance Director > VP > SVP > CFO), I thought I could be of some help to anyone looking to take that route.

Brief background on myself - I finished my undergrad at a non-target six years ago (Fall of '07), and went through a six month training program with a F500 (not an FLDP program). After working in my first role with them for 2 years, I decided that company wasn't for me and moved over to a different F500 company that had a very high focus on it's FLDP program (basically 100% of college hires are hired into the program), and also a very high focus on hiring from a select group of target schools. Being a non-FLDP from a non-target and having zero connections at the new company, I was at a disadvantage to say the least, but some of the things I've done at work and outside of work (advanced degree, certifications) has allowed me to pass up some of the target school FLDP grads at the company who also had more experience. I'm open to answering any questions (professional or personal), and hopefully I can also give some advice to any of you non-targets or direct hires out there looking to separate yourselves from the pack.

Comments (52)

Nov 30, 2013

Is it "normal" to transition from finance manager to controller or do people generally work their way up on the controllership side (ie- assistant controller -> controller)?

Best Response
Nov 30, 2013
D M:

Is it "normal" to transition from finance manager to controller or do people generally work their way up on the controllership side (ie- assistant controller -> controller)?

It is common (and encouraged) for people to take roles on both the traditional accounting and finance/FP&A side of the business as they climb the ladder. There are roles on each side within the levels I listed - for example, a senior accountant at a manufacturing plant and a senior financial analyst with more of a FP&A role are both at the "SFA" level, and an Accounting Manager at a plant and a finance manager with more forward looking FP&A responsibilities at a group or corporate headquarters level, or even a Lead Analyst who doesn't manage people but has higher responsibilities than a SFA would all fall within the "Finance Manager" level.

It is very valuable at the company to have experiences on both sides because you will be expected to understand both when you get to the director or VP level. From a hiring perspective, someone who took the path of entry level accountant, senior accountant, accounting manager, plant controller, then division controller is typically much less desired than the person who has experience and knowledge in multiple areas, product lines, structures, etc.

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Nov 30, 2013

Do you find you're doing more core accounting work, or are you getting some exposure to forward looking work too? Do you see many ex Big 4 in similar positions? What type of certification di you have that's been an advantage?

Nov 30, 2013
romborama:

Do you find you're doing more core accounting work, or are you getting some exposure to forward looking work too? Do you see many ex Big 4 in similar positions? What type of certification di you have that's been an advantage?

I am responsible for the core accounting work (financial reporting, managing the P&L and balance sheet, Account Reconciliations, Cost, etc) but also manage the forecasting, profit plan, and strategic plan for the site. Another advantage of being the controller is you are a member of the leadership team at the site so you are involved in the decisions that impact the business, discussions with the plant manager and other department leads, ad-hoc projects and profitability analysis, and act as more of a business partner and do less of the "grunt work" so to speak.

I've seen many come over to the company from the Big 4, and it is definitely not uncommon to see them come in at the plant controller level (depending on experience level of course). The certifications that are valued most are MBA, CPA, and CMA (in that order). I did my MBA part time and finished the CMA a couple years ago. Having the extra degrees and certifications by no means gives you a guarantee to promotions and management positions, but they definitely set you apart.

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Dec 1, 2013
Industry84:
romborama:

Do you find you're doing more core accounting work, or are you getting some exposure to forward looking work too? Do you see many ex Big 4 in similar positions? What type of certification di you have that's been an advantage?

I am responsible for the core accounting work (financial reporting, managing the P&L and balance sheet, Account Reconciliations, Cost, etc) but also manage the forecasting, profit plan, and strategic plan for the site. Another advantage of being the controller is you are a member of the leadership team at the site so you are involved in the decisions that impact the business, discussions with the plant manager and other department leads, ad-hoc projects and profitability analysis, and act as more of a business partner and do less of the "grunt work" so to speak.

I've seen many come over to the company from the Big 4, and it is definitely not uncommon to see them come in at the plant controller level (depending on experience level of course). The certifications that are valued most are MBA, CPA, and CMA (in that order). I did my MBA part time and finished the CMA a couple years ago. Having the extra degrees and certifications by no means gives you a guarantee to promotions and management positions, but they definitely set you apart.

I just have a question with regards to what a controller does. I know that it's typically more of an accounting-oriented role in that you are responsible for helping prepare the financial reports, but I was wondering if you could speak a bit more about what the "other" side looks like. Is it a lot of financial modeling and decision support to see how various actions will affect the bottom-line, is it looking at things from an operational standpoint and trying to make things more efficient/cut costs, is it big-picture and trying to guide the strategic vision of the firm, is it a combination of all these things?

Sorry if that's a dumb question, but it's something that I've always been confused about since a few that I've spoke with say they do "ad-hoc analysis" or "discuss company issues with other departments", which is somewhat vague.

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Nov 30, 2013

Also, would you advise students to go through an FLDP if they have the option? Was it really much more of a struggle to get a foothold not being in the company's finance leadership development program ?

I'm gonna sneak an @AndyLouis in here...

Nov 30, 2013
D M:

Also, would you advise students to go through an FLDP if they have the option? Was it really much more of a struggle to get a foothold not being in the company's finance leadership development program ?

I'm gonna sneak an @AndyLouis in here...

In most cases I would advise students to go through a FLDP program if they have the chance. At my company specifically, people who do the program have an advantage over those who don't because the company has a vested interest in them being successful, plus the rotations give them experience and knowledge of various levels and groups of the organization that would be difficult to obtain otherwise. To be honest, even if your plan is to leave the company after a few years to go to another firm or to get a FT MBA, I would still advise people to do the FLDP because it looks great on a resume.

It is more of a struggle at lower levels of the company to move up as a non FLDP because you don't have the same experiences and connections that the FLDP guys do. There are two groups of finance employees at the company; ones who are on management's radar to be future leaders of the organization (mainly people who are hired in as FLDP participants), and other finance employees who are essentially hired to fill a position, but nothing more. Not going through the program and not having the typical background of most people on the "fast track" with the company definitely made it more of a challenge to get noticed, but by no means impossible.

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Nov 30, 2013

Whats your comp?

Nov 30, 2013
BlueShirt:

Whats your comp?

Average plant controller comp is ~$115k base, 15-20% bonus

It can work out nicely because many of the locations are also in low cost
of living areas

    • 1
Nov 30, 2013

Are these middle-of-nowhere locations, near cities, or does it vary too greatly to say

Nov 30, 2013
Jamshad:

Thanks for doing this AMA, Industry. I'm in a similar situation you were in, in that I will be interning at a F50 company in FP&A next summer but its a non-FLDP role (doesn't feed to the FLDP program at the corporation.) With this I was wondering what the hierarchy schedule for those who didn't start in a FLDP program? Instead of the 2 year FLDP do you start as a entry level finance analyst for two years or is it different? Also at what point do people in corporate finance/FLDP programs usually break to get their MBAs (if needed at all)?

Our program is 3 years long and those graduating move into roles at the SFA or Accounting/Finance Manager levels. Someone who comes in as a direct hire from undergrad would start at the analyst level, then potentially progress to SFA after ~2 years, then manager after another ~2 years if things go well. In reality, that person could be at the same level or higher as an FLDP graduate after three years, but direct hires are just much less common now and college grads are strongly pushed towards the FLDP program.

Going for the MBA depends on the individual. I went back and got mine right at the 2 year mark, but obviously couldn't have done that if I was in a 3 year FLDP. I have seen several people use the FLDP program as leverage to get into a top MBA program and leave the company soon after their third rotation. I've also seen people start a part time MBA during their first full time role after the FLDP rotations end (best route in my opinion). MBA is strongly encouraged and just about every person in senior management has one, so it's almost becoming a requirement to get to the higher levels.

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Dec 1, 2013

wow, 135k all-in 6 years out of undergrad in F500 is really good

Nov 30, 2013

It varies pretty significantly based on experience and scale of the facility, but that is my rough estimate of the average based on my experience with the company and other controllers I've talked to.

I know of some who are paid as low as $90k with no bonus, and others who are at $125k with a 20% bonus. Someone 6 yrs out of undergrad would typically be responsible for a smaller site and closer to a $100k base and 15% bonus.

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Dec 1, 2013

I know someone in their 40's running an automotive plant making 300-400k. Is that out of the ordinary, or in line with his experience?

Nov 30, 2013
BTbanker:

I know someone in their 40's running an automotive plant making 300-400k. Is that out of the ordinary, or in line with his experience?

This seems very high for a plant controller. You don't see that type of comp at my company until you reach the director/VP levels.

Division controllers can get up to the ~$200k all in mark but they are typically responsible for multiple sites covering sales from $500M-$2B

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Nov 30, 2013

BT could be thinking of a General Manager as opposed to a controller, that wouldn't be as big of a surprise.

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Nov 30, 2013

What are your hours like? How do you work (alone, with a team)? Can you do a "day in the life of"?

Dec 2, 2013
D M:

What are your hours like? How do you work (alone, with a team)? Can you do a "day in the life of"?

Just to add my experience to this question...

My boss (Controller of smaller facility) works roughly 50 hrs a week with a peak closer to 60. You are usually one of the top mgmt positions at the plant. It's usually plant manager and controllers are the top dogs at the plant in my experience.

Controllers have their own accounting/finance teams they have to keep in contact with, as well as all the teams at the plant. (Production, purchasing, etc.) They also are the main point of contact for other in finance from the company. (Etc those higher up with questions, concerns, etc, will usually come to the controller for non-production related Qs)

Also for locations, they can be in bum-eff places, or they can be in industrial parts of large cities. For my company that means areas on the edges of cities such as Dallas, Houston, Chicago, etc. On the other hand there are also random places in other northern and southern states that have nothing around. Lots of companies also have controller opportunities at plants abroad as well. (For my company it's Controller/CFO of South America operations and is a lateral/promotion from the director level)

Not trying to step on your toes OP, just thought I'd add some color before you added your experience.

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Nov 30, 2013
D M:

What are your hours like? How do you work (alone, with a team)? Can you do a "day in the life of"?

It will vary depending on the company and complexity of the plant, but my hours are pretty consistent at 7:30 to 5:30 (sometimes closer to 5). Part of it depends on your plant manager - if he likes to come in at 6 and work 12 hour days, you may feel pressured to do the same, and part
depends on the overall culture of the plant.

Much of it is in your hands though, and if you get your work done and have a reputation for getting results, no one will question the hours you put in. I frequently leave before some of the other leadership staff and just have more of a "work smart, not hard" mentality. I've seen managers who put in 60 hour weeks but their metrics looked awful and they didn't get things done, so they were not successful. At the end of day it's about results.

You do typically have a team that you supervise so you consistently work with them, and you're the one presenting results and representing the finance team in any continuous improvement events so you'll work with teams in those scenarios as well. There is a good portion of the work that is completed alone so I don't want to mislead with my response, but you still have a fair share of interacting and working with others.

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Dec 2, 2013

Hi, thanks for the post; about to start at the big 4 audit in the UK after graduation. I have a couple of questions if you wouldn't mind:

What level at big 4 allows you to move in at plant controller/division/director level?

What is the comp available to the aforementioned posts (apart from the one you have already mentioned!)

Finally, as an aspiring VP/CFO (would like to get to VP before 32, personal goal) when would you recommend leaving big 4? I was thinking after 3 years; moving into an FP&A role would be better experience, but apparently the quickest way, is to get to senior manager at big 4 and then move over to controller?

Thanks!

Nov 30, 2013
csulcy:

Hi, thanks for the post; about to start at the big 4 audit in the UK after graduation. I have a couple of questions if you wouldn't mind:

What level at big 4 allows you to move in at plant controller/division/director level?

What is the comp available to the aforementioned posts (apart from the one you have already mentioned!)

Finally, as an aspiring VP/CFO (would like to get to VP before 32, personal goal) when would you recommend leaving big 4? I was thinking after 3 years; moving into an FP&A role would be better experience, but apparently the quickest way, is to get to senior manager at big 4 and then move over to controller?

Thanks!

I would imagine you would need to be at the manager level in order to transition in as a F500 controller. Most of my contacts who came from public accounting transitioned in either at the SFA, Plant Controller, or Division Controller levels, so I'm not as clear on coming in at the director level.

Compensation is tough because the ranges are so large and it varies by company, but I listed high level estimates of base salary below. You can expect a 15-20% bonus at the plant controller level, 20-25% at the division controller level, and once you reach director you start to get stock options so the total comp packages can rise pretty significantly. The CFO, for example, may have a base salary of $500k, but total comp of $5M.

FLDP ($50k-$60k) > SFA ($67k-$88k) > Finance Manager ($80k-$110k) > Plant Controller ($90k-$125k) > Division Controller ($135k-$188k) > Finance Director ($154k-$230k) > VP ($225k-$364k) > SVP ($270k-$437k) > CFO ($350k-$800k)

I suggest coming in at the controller level. I say this because transitioning from the SFA/Finance Manager levels into the plant controller / division controller roles can be a big leap for some because the company has to trust you with full P&L responsibility for a site and trust that you'll be able to manage people. If you can avoid having to make that transition internally and have the opportunity to come in directly at the controller level, I see that as the best route.

Dec 2, 2013

thanks for doing this OP and congrats on your success. Having worked at a F500 and graduated from their FLDP program I'm curious to what industry/sector you're in? Getting to that level that quickly is very hard to do in my experience regardless of the FLDP background.

Looking back at my old company I didnt know any senior managers let alone controllers who were under 35 let alone only being 6-7 years out of school.

Congrats again.

Nov 30, 2013
Beanyeyes5:

thanks for doing this OP and congrats on your success. Having worked at a F500 and graduated from their FLDP program I'm curious to what industry/sector you're in? Getting to that level that quickly is very hard to do in my experience regardless of the FLDP background.

Looking back at my old company I didnt know any senior managers let alone controllers who were under 35 let alone only being 6-7 years out of school.

Congrats again.

Appreciate it. I work in the industrial sector.

Honestly, a couple of the the biggest things that helped me were proactively applying for promotions every 18 months, and being willing to relocate anywhere in the US that I needed to in order to move up. It sounds simple, but there are a lot of smart people at my company who aren't progressing simply because they aren't willing to relocate and they aren't being proactive and aggressive in seeking out the promotions. My take on it is you have to manage your own career if you want to rise quickly; never let your manager make that decision for you.

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Dec 3, 2013

I apologize if this was already asked. Haven't had time to read through, its finals week haha...

I'll be starting Big 4 audit in a major metro (think Chicago, NYC, LA) upon graduation. Ultimately, if I don't decide to delve into tax and start a practice, F500 is my goal, as is with most Big 4 auditors if I were to guess.

I would like to, if possible, do sort of a mix of accounting and more financial planning/analysis (I know strategy would be a stretch but I'd love to break into that as well). Would you recommend a particular year into PA to come over? I was thinking three years, right after I make senior, as I've heard its best to leave before manager promotion if your hope isn't to do ONLY accounting work.

Any info on this would be great.

Thanks,

Art Vandelay

Nov 30, 2013
Art.Vandelay:

I apologize if this was already asked. Haven't had time to read through, its finals week haha...

I'll be starting Big 4 audit in a major metro (think Chicago, NYC, LA) upon graduation. Ultimately, if I don't decide to delve into tax and start a practice, F500 is my goal, as is with most Big 4 auditors if I were to guess.

I would like to, if possible, do sort of a mix of accounting and more financial planning/analysis (I know strategy would be a stretch but I'd love to break into that as well). Would you recommend a particular year into PA to come over? I was thinking three years, right after I make senior, as I've heard its best to leave before manager promotion if your hope isn't to do ONLY accounting work.

Any info on this would be great.

Thanks,

Art Vandelay

If your plan is to get some experience in FP&A and potentially move into a different part of the business, I suggest getting 2-3 years of the public accounting experience under your belt then transitioning into a FP&A role at the SFA level within a F500. If you wait until you are a manager in big 4 audit, you would likely come in at the plant controller level and you could be branded as having more of a standard accounting background. Coming in sooner rather than later at the SFA level would also open more doors to networking and lateralling into other areas of the company (M&A, Corp Strat, etc).

Dec 3, 2013

Appreciate the response! I guess I will see how much I like public accounting first and take it from there, but odds are I'll leave in order to break into a SFA role.

Dec 5, 2013

Do you really get to push the buttons?

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

    • 2
Nov 30, 2013

Damn I knew I was forgetting a question. You're always on it heist

Nov 30, 2013
heister:

Do you really get to push the buttons?

Yea, I do get to "push the buttons". I'm under 30 years old, only need to be at the office 40-45 hours a week, and make a six figure comp that is the equivalent of over $200k in NYC when adjusted for COL.

How about you? What types of buttons do you push?

Dec 5, 2013

None, I'm retired. I don't have to push buttons for anyone. People push buttons for me,

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

    • 1
Dec 2, 2013
Industry84:
heister:

Do you really get to push the buttons?

Yea, I do get to "push the buttons". I'm under 30 years old, only need to be at the office 40-45 hours a week, and make a six figure comp that is the equivalent of over $200k in NYC when adjusted for COL.

How about you? What types of buttons do you push?

Word.

Dec 5, 2013

thanks for doing this, great ama

Dec 6, 2013

I am transitioning out of the military into the business world and was recently asked to take a comptroller position at a smaller, international manufacturing company. I have an undergrad degree in finance and working on a masters in economics. I am worried that I might not be able to survive in this position given that I have no accounting experience other than academia. Any advice or suggestions? Am I getting in over my head? I am suppose to meet the CFO next week which I am sure will be interesting...

Dec 2, 2013
teddy1:

I am transitioning out of the military into the business world and was recently asked to take a comptroller position at a smaller, international manufacturing company. I have an undergrad degree in finance and working on a masters in economics. I am worried that I might not be able to survive in this position given that I have no accounting experience other than academia. Any advice or suggestions? Am I getting in over my head? I am suppose to meet the CFO next week which I am sure will be interesting...

Sounds like a uphill battle for you haha. See if you can come in as an accounting mgr or assistant controller capacity with the assumption that you are really just training for 6 months or so for the head job. This would make the transition much smoother. It would still be an extremely uphill battle imo since it'll be such a steep learning curve.

Nov 30, 2013

How much time is left in school? I'm assuming the company that hired you knows this? Maybe instead of taking a lower-level position (though if it's really that small, they might not have lower positions) ask them if they can give you a month-long crash course in accounting.

If you have a full semester left, just start teaching yourself accounting as an additional class. It'll kinda suck, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Nov 30, 2013
teddy1:

I am transitioning out of the military into the business world and was recently asked to take a comptroller position at a smaller, international manufacturing company. I have an undergrad degree in finance and working on a masters in economics. I am worried that I might not be able to survive in this position given that I have no accounting experience other than academia. Any advice or suggestions? Am I getting in over my head? I am suppose to meet the CFO next week which I am sure will be interesting...

I was a finance major as well so I can relate to your situation. In my first full time gig out of college, I took a position with a good amount of responsibility and to be honest with you, I barely understood the concept of debits and credits at the time.

I am all for taking stretch roles so my advice to you would be to take the assignment, learn as much as you can on the job, and if you have time outside of work/school then I suggest sitting for the CMA or taking a couple accounting courses. The CMA seems like a good option for you because the only requirement is having a bachelors degree and an accounting related job.

Try not to stress too much over it and go in with an open mind - you'll learn a lot of what you need to know on the job and do as much as you can outside of the office to get up to speed.

Dec 6, 2013

Hello,

Thank you for doing this AMA. I am a graduating senior who's about to start a three year FLDP program at a fortune 200 company. Which is very similar to what you've gone through. I hope you can help me answer some questions:

1). I know the general order is from FLDP > SFA > Finance Manager > Plant Controller > Division Controller > Finance Director > VP > SVP > CFO. How long did it took you to get from SFA to a Finance Manager and from there to Plant Controller

2). Since my FLDP is a three year program, will my salary increased each year and will varies by the location that i get located to?

3). Let's just say that you found out the FLDP is not a good fit for you, and you want to find another job. Would it be bad to quit the program before finishing it?

Thank you in advance for your input.

Nov 30, 2013
xiayu7778:

Hello,

Thank you for doing this AMA. I am a graduating senior who's about to start a three year FLDP program at a fortune 200 company. Which is very similar to what you've gone through. I hope you can help me answer some questions:

1). I know the general order is from FLDP > SFA > Finance Manager > Plant Controller > Division Controller > Finance Director > VP > SVP > CFO. How long did it took you to get from SFA to a Finance Manager and from there to Plant Controller

2). Since my FLDP is a three year program, will my salary increased each year and will varies by the location that i get located to?

3). Let's just say that you found out the FLDP is not a good fit for you, and you want to find another job. Would it be bad to quit the program before finishing it?

Thank you in advance for your input.

1 - My route was a bit different since I didn't do a standard 2-3 year FLDP program:
Fina/Acct Training Program (6 Months) > Analyst (2.5 years) > SFA (1.5 years) > Finance Manager (1.5 years) > Plant Controller (current)

2 - You will get a standard salary increase each year (2-4%) based on a review with your location manager and program manager, but you can expect a pretty significant bump in pay when you finish the program and move into a role at either the SFA or Finance Manager level. You also get the benefits of relocating once per year, which can be pretty profitable if the company has a generous relocation program (some companies give you a big lump sum anytime you relocate, and you can end up pocketing up to 95% of it)

3 - It wouldn't necessarily be a make or break career decision, but my advice in this situation would be to stick it out and finish the program. Since it is only 3 years and you're getting the benefit of seeing multiple areas of the company with varying responsibilities (not to mention it's a resume builder), I would at least stay until the program ends.

Dec 2, 2013

Everything I've seen you post here is consistent with my experiences. Great thread!

Nov 30, 2013

I'll act more grateful and humble when I see you give out that "unsolicited life advice" instead of the negative bullshit I see you post.

    • 2
Dec 26, 2014

I apologize for bumping an old post (it does have great information and is worth reading, though) but I have a potentially stupid question.

I know the role exists, but why do I never see it? And which specific companies actually use the terminology "controller"? I ask not because I'm dubious, but because I can't really find much information on it outside of wso. For instance on glassdoor there are never any salaries posted for any type of controller position, plant or division. Do the official positions have different titles or am I just stupid?

Side question, but is plant controller a common step just within the FP&A division of corporate finance or do you see people who worked in strategy/corp dev become plant controllers too?

Nov 30, 2013
BabyChimp:

I apologize for bumping an old post (it does have great information and is worth reading, though) but I have a potentially stupid question.

I know the role exists, but why do I never see it? And which specific companies actually use the terminology "controller"? I ask not because I'm dubious, but because I can't really find much information on it outside of wso. For instance on glassdoor there are never any salaries posted for any type of controller position, plant or division. Do the official positions have different titles or am I just stupid?

Side question, but is plant controller a common step just within the FP&A division of corporate finance or do you see people who worked in strategy/corp dev become plant controllers too?

You should see the positions posted with F500 companies under finance and accounting jobs, but its possible different companies have different titles for the role. You should see titles such as Plant Controller, Division Controller, Group Controller, Business Unit Controller, Corporate Controller, etc. Each of these positions involves different levels of responsibilities within the company. Some companies may refer to the role as Finance Manager as well. A controller is essentially a senior level role within the finance and accounting function of a company. Titles may vary, but the job descriptions should give you a clear indicator (P&L responsibility, reporting, forecasting, etc)

    • 1
Dec 27, 2014

Great AMA, thanks so much! I'm starting my FLDP program in the near future and have a few questions.

1) From what you may have witnessed or experienced, what are the best types of rotations to get into? i.e. treasury, supply chain finance, internal audit, etc...

2) Can you talk a little more about what you did to pass up FLDP grads?

3) This post is over a year old now, can you give an update (if even necessary) of where you're at in your career? I'm sure others would be interested in this as well.

Nov 30, 2013
da chief:

Great AMA, thanks so much! I'm starting my FLDP program in the near future and have a few questions.

1) From what you may have witnessed or experienced, what are the best types of rotations to get into? i.e. treasury, supply chain finance, internal audit, etc...

2) Can you talk a little more about what you did to pass up FLDP grads?

3) This post is over a year old now, can you give an update (if even necessary) of where you're at in your career? I'm sure others would be interested in this as well.

1) A diverse background across multiple areas of finance & accounting is most valued at the company I work for. To prepare for a position as a controller, you'd definitely want experience at a plant if you're working for a manufacturing company. Experience in a forward looking, FP&A rotation would also be beneficial. The company I work for has FP&A positions where you build discounted cash flow models for product development, partner with sales teams on supporting contract negotiations, work with supply chain teams on sales forecasting, complete product mix analysis, and many ad-hoc analysis projects. Rotations in internal audit, treasury, and other division/corporate level positions would also be valuable.

If I could describe an ideal FLDP that I'd want to hire, I'd want to see one rotation at a large, complex plant supporting the operations, a second rotation on a FP&A team at the division/headquarters level (similar to what I described earlier), and an additional rotation in internal audit.

2) I really took the approach of not saying no to any projects that I came across, regardless of whether they were in finance/accounting or in other departments. That led to me completing quite a few projects that drove value for the business (some with six figure+ bottom line savings) and got the attention of the leadership at the plant and division. I had also become pretty good with excel (pivot tables, vlookups, macros, etc) and went out of my way to help all of the managers at plant I worked at by automating a lot of their processes. I'm sure this all sounds pretty simple and goes without saying, but it's amazing how much people love you and want to promote you when you're always looking to take on more work and you have skills that others value, and you use those skills to make their jobs easier.

I had to relocate 4 times in my first 6 years of experience, so being flexible and open to moving to new locations also helped to give me an upper hand over others who were hesitant to relocate or tied down to certain areas. I've also been aggressive in making sure I get promoted frequently, and I make sure to start looking for the next opportunity every 1.5 to 2 years so I can continue to progress. It's also important to get any extra degrees/certifications that you can to separate yourself from the pack (MBA, CPA, CMA are valued most at my company).

3) I don't mind giving an update. I was approached recently at my company about a promotion, so I'm in the process of making that transition now. I'll be the controller for a larger operation that has about twice the number of people and double the annual sales compared to the operation I'm at now. Feel free to PM me or respond here if you have any other questions.

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Dec 29, 2014
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Jan 7, 2018
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