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AFP 2017: FP&A Roundtable Has Many Questions About the Interview Process

  • By Bill Myers
  • Published: 10/15/2017
SAN DIEGO, CALIF. -- Good help is hard to find—and for FP&A leaders it verges on an existential challenge.

Yet the practitioners who gathered for the FP&A Roundtable at AFP 2017 agreed on little else when they discussed hiring, recruiting and retention. The conversation was cordial but lively as the professionals in the room wondered aloud about how best to hire—and to keep—the best.

Some of the professionals at the crowded roundtable used personality assessments such as Myers-Briggs. For Carrie Kauck, finance director at Uline, FP&A professionals need to be comfortable speaking publicly and in high-pressure situations. “We look for extroverts,” she said, adding that FP&A professionals “need to be comfortable pushing back” against a company’s leaders.

Others in the room raised concerns about hiring to a specific personality type. “How are you not creating a blind spot where everybody looks the same and things the same?” asked Bryan Lapidus, FP&A, associate director of Allegiance Advisory Group, who moderated Sunday’s discussion.

Steve Player, managing director of Live Future Ready, said he worried an FP&A manager might project her own personality onto potential hires, so that a practitioner might get on well with his boss, but not with the company (or its needs). “Hiring people who mesh with the boss is comforting, but it’s risky,” he said.

Suzanne Allen, FP&A, chief financial officer at CompuDyne Corporation, said that FP&A leaders should consider hiring for a portfolio of personality types and professional backgrounds. She was seconded enthusiastically by Kwame Moloko, FP&A, a CFO who works in South Africa’s pharmaceutical industry. “It is harder to manage a multidisciplinary staff but the end product is so much better,” he said.

To test, or not to test?
Jim Morales, FP&A, the director of strategy & corporate development at Crius Energy, uses the Myers-Briggs tests, but he also uses more informal personal interviews. If you’re looking for someone with the courage to stand up to company executives, he said, it might be helpful to see what kinds of tough questions they ask of you in an interview.

Eric Kachin, CTP and investment director at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, said he’s found a single focus—“How do you repair conflict”—can really help make a difference in FP&A candidate interviews.

Lapidus redirected conversation at that stage, asking what FP&A leaders could do to make sure that, once hired, their employees were successful and stayed with the company. Emmauel Caprais, vice president of strategic and financial planning analysis at ITT Corporation, said his company uses a process called GAPS—Goal, Aspiration, Perception and Success—to help employees understand expectations and measure successes.

Allen had a more direct approach to helping FP&A professionals become successful: “Make them members of AFP,” she said.
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