I leave home and start making my way towards the train station. I enjoy my morning stroll as it gives me a chance to recalibrate and focus on the day ahead. However, on the rare occasion, I do sleep in, I am guilty of getting a lift to the station. On those days, I make a silent promise to myself to be more organised in the mornings.
I swipe my access card and enter the office. I say my good mornings to the people around me. Next, I fill up my water bottle and go back to my seat. Then, it is onto organising my table and taking out the equipment that I might need for the day ahead, such as my laptop, notebook and stationery.
My work schedule for the day depends on my rotation. As a Finance Graduate, I am fortunate to get an opportunity to work for six months in each of the following teams: Corporate Finance, Internal Audit, Business Unit Finance and Tax. I believe that the breadth of experience gained from such a programme is invaluable as it gives a good overall picture of the Finance function.
In this excerpt, I shall be detailing a typical month end day at Zinfra Corporate.
My day starts off with checking my inbox. I have a look at my calendar and plan my day accordingly. If there are any outstanding queries, I reply to them or direct them to the relevant staff.
One of the tasks that I am responsible for everyday is cash flow reconciliation. This process requires me to reconcile the company’s bank statements to the Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Payroll transactions.
Normally, by this time, the relevant parties would have sent through their excel models. I perform the reconciliation and consolidate the cash position. I will provide some commentary, if there are any material variances from the forecast. This summary gets forwarded to the relevant stakeholders. This is the reporting aspect of cashflow.
Part of the cash flow reconciliation process requires me to monitor cashflow. This means that I have to monitor funds forecast to be received in the following days against payments to be made. If I suspect that there might be a potential cash flow issues, I discuss this with my manager. We then respond to the issues, as necessary.
Normally, there is a strict timeline for month end. Journals need to be prepared and uploaded onto our financial system, SAP, by a certain time. There is a live document tracking our progress. We have a team meeting around this and clarify each person’s responsibility and outstanding items for that particular month end.
I start preparing the journals that have yet to be posted. There are some journals which require more effort in consolidating the data and transforming it into the csv journal format. We try to look at the process from the lens of continuous improvement. Sometimes, I Google and look for ways to expediate the process. By doing this, I have been able to improve my excel skills.
It’s lunch time! (yay!) Normally, I pack some dinner leftovers for lunch. However, there weren’t any leftovers the night before. I make my way downstairs and head into the nearby Galleria shopping centre. Today, I feel like a pasta salad. After obtaining my food, I proceed for a small walk around the block. It is always nice to step out for some fresh air and give my muscles a bit of a stretch. I find that this energises me for the afternoon. Then, I make my way back to the office and have my meal in the staff room. Normally, I bump into others in the staff room and a have a small chat.
I head back to my desk and refresh my inbox. Sometimes, there are requests for journal reversals. I quickly respond to them and make notes for future reference. Then, I check with one of the accountants if she needs any help with posting journals. All good, she says. The books are about to be closed.
It is now preparation time for the Monthly Business Report. The report gets updated with this month’s actuals. I am tasked with doing a page turn, ensuring the numbers correspond and checking that the report has been rolled over properly. It is always interesting to view the financials and to compare them against budgets. This exercise not only exposes me to the company’s financials, but also gives me a chance to understand the business more deeply. Variances from budget have to be noted. This report will be presented the following day to the senior management, for review and comment.
It is time for a skype meeting. As a graduate cohort, our team has been tasked with preparing a business case on a technology that can be used to improve current business process. We are at the brainstorming phase of the project. As such, I have scheduled a meeting with my mentor to gather some ideas for the project. The dynamic discussion leaves me with some ideas to share with the team at our next meeting. My mentor has also generously put me in touch with his contacts to further expand my idea bank and get different perspectives on the business. The graduate project is one of the highlights of the graduate programme. Although most of the cohort is dispersed around the country, it is encouraging to see us all work together to make a tangible difference in the business. It is quite empowering.
Using the information provided from my earlier skype meeting, other relevant meetings I have had this week and the knowledge that I have gained from this week’s project curriculum, I create a short PowerPoint presentation. This slide pack will be presented tomorrow at the weekly graduate project catch up with the other graduates and project sponsor.
I finish up any outstanding items before calling it a day. Then, I pack my bag and join the hustle and bustle, that is the Flinders Street evening home crowd. During my train ride, I like to catch up on some news and reply texts.
Normally, I arrive home and head straight to the fridge. I have a quick snack before washing up. Then, I have some dinner and it is onto some study for the CPA. However, in the prior months, MasterChef took precedence over study. I spent an hour or so being a couch potato, lapping in immunity pin cook offs and pressure tests. I believe it is important to rewind after a long day. It is good to strike a balance between work and play.
Finally, it’s time for bed, although I will probably be checking social media and reading some articles before actually catching my forty winks. Ever since I started my graduate role, I like to have a good 8.5 hours of sleep. My last step each day is to quickly check that my alarm is on. Gone were the days when I could afford to have a cheeky weekday sleep in. Nevertheless, I count myself blessed to work in a team that is inclusive and supportive of my personal development. I look forward to a new day and the learning that awaits me.