Finance Careers: Why Certification Makes a Difference

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By AFP Staff Writers
Published:2016-01-20

AFP recently spoke with Travis Lockhart, CTP, FP&A, finance manager for DLT Solutions, on how earning the Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credential has helped him further his career.

AFP: What is your current role?

Travis Lockhart: I’m currently with DLT Solutions, a value-added software reseller in the government contracting space, where my current role as finance manager is largely related to oversight of a group of analysts who perform sales and pricing support tasks, as well as various financial planning and analysis duties. My role also encompasses the implementation of new processes and additional automation to further increase the value of our department’s day-to-day pricing responsibilities. In addition to this, I’ve focused on the creation of financial models to support various departments throughout the organization, and am setting the groundwork for future implementation of analytics tools to be used by sales leaders and executives in developing insights into the company’s operations and financial performance.

AFP: What led you to a career in finance?

Lockhart: My undergraduate studies were at Virginia Tech, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in finance, with focuses in both corporate finance and investment management.

I've always been data-driven, as well as interested in math, but found finance to be a challenge that went beyond pure mathematical routine. My finance studies interested me greatly by building in theory, and combining qualitative and quantitative analyses. I also enjoy that being successful in finance requires an analytical mind, as well as creativity and problem-solving.

AFP: What was your first role in finance?

Lockhart: My first role was as a financial and business analyst at Information Management Consultants (IMC), a small IT services provider in the government contracting space. This role was a great introduction to corporate finance, and the operations side really helped me see how the business was run.

Due to the nature of my position within IMC, as well as the smaller size of the company, I believe I was able to achieve great exposure to business processes that I might not otherwise have experienced at this point in my career.

AFP: How does your position impact the company’s performance?

Lockhart: In my previous position at IMC, I designed and implemented a novel corporate-wide income statement and balance sheet forecasting model, which was regularly reviewed with and used by senior leadership for understanding our performance and the potential impacts of various scenarios.

In my current role, I am beginning to move forward with the implementation of analytics tools, which could be used to enhance on-demand analysis and gain further insight into operations. I imagine this will bring me further into a corporate strategy role. I truly believe that those in FP&A roles are responsible for understanding the business impacts of decisions and using this information in a strategic manner.

AFP: Why did you decide to earn the Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credential?

Lockhart: Since joining the workforce, I’ve always made a strong effort to consistently pursue continuing education opportunities and professional certifications. I discovered AFP and the FP&A credential when I was searching for additional ways to differentiate myself from my peers and ultimately further my career.

I was promoted to manager of FP&A at IMC at about the same time as gaining the FP&A credential. This was not the only factor involved, but I still feel it was a large piece of it.

I definitely believe the FP&A designation makes you more marketable as an FP&A professional. It helps to increase and validate your skills and competency, and also brings you into a broad network of likeminded professionals.