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Building a Finance Team from the Ground Up

  • By Nilly Essaides
  • Published: 2/1/2016
goodnerWhen Johnnie Goodner, CTP, joined JP Energy Partners four years ago after spending over 13 years at CompUSA, there was no finance team in place. So as the new vice president of finance, Goodner, a member of AFP’s new FP&A Advisory Council, had to build one from the ground up.

The process took several years. “We did not have systems in place and the company was experiencing significant growth through acquisitions,” Goodner said. “Our management team was hungry for the analytics needed to drive earnings.” In the past four years, the company has gone from a single business to four diverse business segments and completed an IPO in 2015. Like others in its industry, JP Energy is currently facing the challenges of the large decline in oil and gas prices.

In the past six months, Goodner inherited the additional responsibilities of treasury and risk management, and continues to serve as an adviser to the FP&A team. “It’s a transition that has allowed me to further advance my career and remain close to the financial drivers of the business,” he said. “I feel that my FP&A experience has strengthened our treasury and risk management teams because of the analytical mindset my experience brings to the table, whether it be cash forecasting or evaluating the risks of the company.” Goodner believes this is exactly what the CFO had in mind when he offered this opportunity.

His FP&A role was primarily a culmination of his career at CompUSA, where he started as a financial analyst and rose to the top as head of FP&A, holding finance roles in operations, budgeting and forecasting and strategy. At CompUSA, “we had a first-class finance team that was very close to the business and was heavily relied upon by management to help drive decision-making,” he said.

Goodner conceded it’s unusual for someone to transition from retail into oil and gas. But at least initially, JP Energy had a strong retail component to its business. “I was fortunate to come into a retail environment that grew into a more traditional oil and gas company,” he said. “However, the learning curve was very steep.”

As an industry, oil and gas experienced very rapid growth, followed by a sudden pause due to the decline in crude prices. This market shift has only increased the need for FP&A to work more closely with operations. “We had to dive deep into the business to support decision-making. It was a give and take, each teaching the other,” he said. “That’s critical in working with operations. It has to be a team environment.”

The favorite part of his job is learning new things, which is one of the reasons he agreed to assume the lead treasury and risk role in his organization. The other big driver of his success is learning as much as he can about the business and collaborating with the operators. “It’s not just about reporting, it’s about helping them succeed,” he said.

Currently, Goodner’s biggest leadership challenge is making sure everyone on the team stays motivated and on task. “I’ve got a strong bench. You have to manage each person differently and provide leadership that allows everyone to grow,” he said, “while providing a runway for the best performers to develop.”

Learn more about AFP’s FP&A Advisory Council here.

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