How many people do you know that LOVE math? I don’t know very many! My friend Leisa does! She has taken her love for numbers and has made a successful career out of it! She is one of those rare people who knew what they wanted before they went to college and has continued in her profession. Here is what Leisa has to say about a career in Finance….
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: Finance Manager for a global design and engineering firm. It is based out of Edmonton, Canada. I work out of the Scarborough location and my manager is out of the Boston office (a fun place to visit!)
Q: What do you do?
A: I am responsible for the finances for the New England region which for my company consists of 4 offices in Maine, one in NH, two in VT, one in CT, and 3 in Massachusetts. I create budgets and tell those that own a piece of our company what we will be expecting to make in profit and I work with the different leaders across the region to make sure their costs are in line with their projections. I look for ways to improve the financials and I use lots and lots of excel spreadsheets to analyze numbers for my region. I prepare reports and report to my manager who is the controller of the East. I have 8 people who report to me and they are project administrators and work with the various project managers to perform their billing and understand their financials. In the consulting industry, profit is made when we bill out time to our customers.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: I have always worked in Finance or Accounting since I graduated from college.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I have always liked money! I enjoy looking for opportunities to save my own money and find it enjoyable to help others too. Math is like a big puzzle to me and I like trying to figure it out!
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: It is a good profession for people that like math and numbers, like problem solving and doing research to find answers to problems. Everyone needs financial people and they are often considered ‘special’ because there are many people out there that really don’t like numbers!
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to a business college and majored in Finance and minored in Mathematics.
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: I went to Bentley University for 4 years for my undergraduate and left there with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. I also attended graduate school at Boston University and graduated with a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I went to graduate school part time and it took me nearly 5 years to complete while working but I did it!
Q: Do you use your degree in your job?
A: Absolutely, all the time. It’s a nice well-rounded profession that you can put to use in various business positions and it’s a nice benefit for personal finances too!
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions?
A: Finance and Accounting are often interchangeable. Economics and Marketing are closely related and sometimes even Information Technology. I have seen people move from these fields to Finance and vice versa. Project Management is also closely related as it’s important to manage a project on the financial side as well as the business side.
Q: Does your job require continued education?
A: The finance field has many certification type programs that you can get acquire. Each level makes you more valuable and gives you more knowledge. Some are more intense but they all involve studying for some sort of certification exam and passing!
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
A: No certification is required for this job.
Q: What is a day in the life of your job?
A: My day is usually responding to questions, helping those that don’t understand numbers very well, making sure my team members are doing what they are supposed to be doing, making sure my region is making money, looking for ways to improve our financial position, and reporting what I find to others.
Q: Does your profession require travel?
A: In general finance professionals don’t travel a ton, depends on the makeup of the company and where the headquarters are, etc. I travel a few times a month to our New England offices but it’s very minimal and I don’t usually need to deal with the airports, unless we are meeting as a regional team or acquiring a new company in another location.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: Finance positions usually demand more hours as you move up the career ladder. 40-50 hours is definitely common and 60+ hours is not unheard of. Most finance management positions are salary based so you are paid the same amount regardless of what you actually work for hours. Hours are typically a 9-5 sort of thing with more work around certain times of the year like year end, budget processes and often audit time!
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Having people come to me to ask me how to do something in finance!
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: Sometimes people just don’t get the numbers and it can be frustrating to help them when they don’t want to take the time to understand them either!
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: It’s a fun position! You need to like to be in front of the computer for a long period of time, but the money is usually very good in this profession. There is usually a need for finance professionals and it’s very easy to cross industries so you are generally not stuck to one finance role your entire career.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?
A: Absolutely, I would not change a thing. I think I’m one of the rare few that set out to do one career and did just that!
Q: Is your job regional (ie: found in only certain parts of the country?).
A: Finance professionals exist everywhere. Different rules and different policies but in general it’s all the same!
Q: Is your profession fun?
A: I think it’s very fun, I really enjoy it but many think that numbers are hard and boring! If you like math and figuring things out, you’ll love a finance career!