At Carlson Management Consulting, our team members are passionate about helping organizations succeed through best practices in finance and technology. Senior Associate, Mary Manzano, shares her professional story and how she makes a difference for Carlson’s clients.
Can you share your background in finance?
I started my finance career in budgeting at a nonprofit organization, which I did for over 10 years. I then met my former boss at my previous company through Adaptive Insights. For five years, I worked there as a Forecasting Manager. Most recently, I joined Carlson as Senior Associate in our Adaptive Insights practice in 2017.
What influenced your decision to go into the financial technology industry?
During the five years I worked with my previous employer, I gained knowledge in the financial technology industry, primarily through my extensive use of Adaptive Insights. I’ve seen how Adaptive’s Business Planning Cloud can transform the way companies perform FP&A. I’ve been very excited to use and grow my Adaptive Insights skills. Through our weekly internal training sessions, we share best practices in finance as well as how to most efficiently implement features and processes in Adaptive. It’s a fast-paced environment with new capabilities being rolled out all the time.
Why did you join Carlson?
I realized one of the parts I liked the most about my career over the years was the work I’ve done inside Adaptive Insights.
Because I had a lot of contacts at Adaptive, I reached out to one of the customer success managers who gave me Ethan Carlson’s contact information. I had been looking at the Carlson website because, of course, it’s one of the biggest names in consulting for Adaptive Insights implementations. Every time I looked at consulting services for Adaptive, Carlson popped up!
I was fortunate that the customer success manager gave me Ethan’s contact information when I reached out to her.
What’s a day in the life like as a Senior Associate?
I come into the office between 8:00am and 8:30am. Because I take a lot of client calls, I like to have my day planned out. When I’m not taking client calls, I like to book and organize my time around making progress on action items for my clients.
Typically, I’m in the office until 5:00pm to 5:30pm because I do have little ones and must attend to my parental duties soon after work.
What’s your favorite aspect about your job and why?
One of the aspects I like most about my job is my work-life balance. I work diligently on behalf of my clients, but because I have two children who are three and six years old, being able to plan my day around my personal life is tremendous. With my ability to attend my kids’ activities and events, as well as make progress for my clients, it doesn’t get any better than that balance!
What trends do you foresee shaping the financial technology industry?
The financial technology industry is very dynamic and the most successful players have embraced the cloud. We've also seen many of our clients take a "best-in-class" solutions approach where they will implement Adaptive Insights, see the value of a cloud-based CPM solution, and then go on to replace their on-premise GL system with a solution like Sage Intacct. These systems have disrupted the way finance is done. In the more general technology industry, many SaaS companies that are leaning in the direction of the recurring revenue model. The organization I worked for before Carlson was just starting to implement their monthly recurring revenue model. So, I think that’s the main trend and one where Carlson has particular expertise. Indeed, we recently hosted a webinar on Integrated Revenue Planning for SaaS firms. The recurring revenue model is becoming big in the technology industry.
What do you enjoy most about working at Carlson?
Because I didn’t have prior consulting experience before joining Carlson, I was very grateful that Ethan gave me an opportunity to join the team. I really enjoy being able to work with a cross-section of clients with a variety of challenges and then being part of the "solution". The work-life balance is also one of the aspects I really enjoy most about working at Carlson.
What qualities do you bring to make a difference for Carlson’s clients?
The most important quality I bring to make a difference for Carlson’s clients is my experience and expertise as an Adaptive admin for five years. I reported to the CFO, who had little time to train me on the software, and so I trained myself. Adaptive Insights did not have the training tool they currently have, so I dug into it and learned the system.
As an Adaptive admin, I know what the pain points were for me personally when using the system. With my background, I know how to overcome those pain points and provide guidance to my clients. I’m able to advise them on where they should best devote their time and energy because I do have that professional experience.
Can you share a time when you solved a particular client challenge?
Recently, I received an e-mail from one of my clients who was trying to run an OfficeConnect report. Even though they did see results through the general ledger (GL), they weren’t seeing them in the OfficeConnect report. When I examined the report, I noticed they were selecting the wrong account. So, I was able to guide them to the account they needed.
The client’s GL account has a parent-child relationship where the accounts are linked. Basically, they were picking up one of the accounts versus the rollup account. In doing so, they weren’t considering the values in those linked accounts because they were picking only a specific account.
To resolve the issue, I met with them over the phone and showed them how to select the appropriate rollup GL, so their OfficeConnect report would refresh and update with the values they were looking for.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
My favorite hobbies are spending time with my little ones and my husband, going to the beach, and traveling.
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