Carlson Thought Leadership in Finance & Technology

Transforming Finance: Interview with WGBH's Maureen Henehan

August 17, 2015 / by Dave Phillips

WGBH_logo-720-382I recently had an opportunity to connect with Maureen Henehan, Director of Program Management and Process Improvement at WGBH, to ask about her experience as a finance leader and the role of Adaptive Insights in transforming finance in her organization.  WGBH Boston, a Carlson customer, is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station.

David  Hi Maureen, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Could you describe your background and current role at WGBH?

Maureen  My name is Maureen Henehan and I am the Director of Program Management and Process Improvement at WGBH Educational foundation. I have been a member of the Finance Team at WGBH for more than 15 years serving in many different capacities throughout the organization.  As the Director of Program Management, I am responsible for the establishment of key metrics for measuring the effectiveness and performance of processes in Finance. These metrics are used to foster a data driven environment for business decision making. Additionally, I lead the finance team in the delivery of programs to improve processes and  ensure quality. As the lead for all major programs within the Chief Financial Officer’s office I am responsible for the integration of these programs and systems, driving best practices to enable the most efficient alignment of large scale enterprise applications. Prior to taking on this role at WGBH, I have served in a number of different capacities within the production areas of WGBH including roles as  the Director of Production Finance and Grant Management, Senior Manager of Grants, and as Business Manager for National Children’s Television series productions including Fetch! and ZOOM.

David  What are some of the challenges you face as a finance leader in a non-profit organization and how have you overcome them?

Maureen  As a finance leader in a non-profit environment, we face the challenge of managing limited resources while maintaining the highest level of content in the constantly changing media industry. We have to keep adjusting and evolving, focusing on adapting our financial processes and systems to accommodate the changes in the Media Industry and in the ways we producer and deliver media content. Some ways we have done this from a finance perspective are to implement cloud based financial systems, including Adaptive Planning, that integrate with each other and help us standardize and unify financial functions across all aspects of our business. This has rapidly increased productivity and given us valuable metrics so that we can continue to evaluate our business and plan for the future.

David  What are the key benefits you have gained using Adaptive Insights?

Maureen  Prior to moving to Adaptive, our operational activities were not as tightly linked to our business strategy and individual business unit budgets were not unified into a single system. Adaptive has allowed us to have unified planning and budgeting from operational to group levels and a consistent planning process across the entire organization. Additional benefits we have gained from deploying Adaptive include, faster, flexible and more accurate planning cycle through use of the tool; improved governance and compliance with a comprehensive audit trail of all budget changes and lastly a unified process with close, reporting and disclosure processes to reduce errors and increase efficiency.  Having our budget data in one tool has given the Financial Planning and Analysis team at WGBH a collaborative, connected, uniform tool to successfully plan for organizational growth.

David  Carlson Management Consulting has been a resource for you as you’ve evolved your Adaptive solution.  Can you describe your experience working with Carlson consultants?

Maureen  The Carlson team brought deep expertise in how best to use the tool to develop our Budget models in Adaptive. In addition, they were well versed with best practices in Planning and Budgeting processes across their other clients and gave us insight on how we could streamline our processes and use the Adaptive tool to centralize planning and reporting. They took the time to understand our business so that our implementation into Adaptive kept our sound budgeting practices in place while helping us determine the ways the tool could help us refine our process

David  Can you describe some of the finance best practices that you think organizations should focus on?:

Maureen  In my opinion two best practices that organizations could focus pertain to reporting. The first is to appropriately tailor financial reports to the audience.  Determine who the financial reports serve, who will read it and who will benefit most from the information it contains. Ensure report information is appropriately tailored to suit the audience's needs.

The second is Interactive Reporting. The traditional approach to financial reporting has been "numbers on a page". Times have changed with new technologies shifting the paradigm and Financial reporting needs to move to become more dynamic and interactive, and including click-through information and graphic representations.

David  For someone starting out in their career in finance, what advice would you give them to accelerate their growth?

Maureen  Advice I would give to someone starting out their career in finance would be to try to have a varied career path. Try to view additional projects outside of your normal work scope as an opportunity for growth and to show your willingness to go above and beyond. In my experience these opportunities have presented themselves and when taken and executed upon have pushed me out of my comfort zone and accelerated my career growth.

David  Thank you for your insights, Maureen!

Maureen  You're welcome.

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