FPAC Profile: The Chemistry Just Wasn’t There
Ashley Davis, FPAC, Corporate FP&A Manager for Tennant Company, didn’t start her career journey in finance. “I started college as a chemistry major,” she said. It was something in which she excelled in high school, so she thought she’d be in her element in college as well. “I took all advanced classes right away, assuming I knew all the basics. I did not.”
Having taken a “super easy” accounting class in high school, she changed her major to accounting. “Again, I was very wrong,” she said. “Accounting and finance are not easy or simple. It took a lot of work, but I was able to graduate with an accounting and management double major.”
After college, Ashley took a job as a Financial Analyst with Winnebago Industries, where she worked her way up to Finance Manager of Enterprise Functions in just seven years. During her time at the company, Ashley had the opportunity to try out multiple
areas within accounting and finance, through which she was able to find something which piqued her curiosity: FP&A. “I latched on to the challenging opportunities and the exposure within the FP&A function,” said Ashley.
The here and now
Ashley believes that the whole of her education, background, work experience and certifications contribute to her success in FP&A. “Continuous learning is key to succeeding in the fast-paced environment in which we live, work and play today,” she said. “Keeping up to date on skills and knowledge within the profession allows me to remain agile and move forward through changes quickly.”
In her daily tasks, Ashley is all about connections and elements: “I regularly connect with business partners throughout the company and globe to ensure their needs are met, and we’re progressing forward toward our goals.” She also routinely checks in with her direct reports and the team to make sure everyone has what they need to succeed.
Then there are the elements of FP&A — strategy, budgeting, forecasting and reporting — which she works through on a daily basis.
The most critical issue Ashley is facing today in her job is the growing complexity and magnitude of FP&A-related tasks and responsibilities. In her efforts to resolve these issues, she focuses on learning and professional development for herself, her team and her colleagues.
They also take the time to both rationalize and prioritize tasks while working toward creative solutions and greater efficiencies.
The there and then
Looking ahead to the near future, Ashley believes skills in change management and financial modeling are most important to add. In terms of the expansion of her career, Ashley would love to gain exposure to all areas of finance so she can “become versed in the many angles of the issues we face each day,” and have the skills and understanding to be able to come up with the best-informed and creative solutions. This allows her to be a true partner and leader for the business.
More than just her job title
With the FPAC credential, Ashley said she is viewed as more than just her job title: “My colleagues and employers can see I have the knowledge and skills required to succeed in FP&A and beyond.”
It was on the recommendation of her former boss that Ashley pursued the FPAC designation. “He thought it would be a great opportunity for me to refresh and expand my financial planning and analysis skills. I looked into it and decided to try it out.” After completing the program, Ashley said she is equipped with the skill sets needed to adapt to the obstacles and issues the finance profession is facing today.
For anyone thinking about going for the FPAC credential, Ashley said she absolutely supports that decision. For those who are of a more senior level, she said it’s a great refresher. It’s also an excellent pathway to learning FP&A for those who studied accounting or finance in college. Newcomers to the profession will gain an understanding of concepts central to FP&A, and for all, “It’s a great way to show employers and colleagues you have the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in corporate financial planning and analysis,” she said.
A piece of advice
“Always embrace opportunities to learn,” said Ashley. “You don’t have to know everything, but you should always strive to learn and do more. Those who are most successful are people who see life as a never-ending learning journey.”
Strive to learn and do more with AFP’s Financial Planning and Analysis Certification (FPAC).