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Spotlight with Syed Gilani, Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis, Toronto

Michelle Lee July 24, 2018

Tell me about your role at Cambridge.

I am the Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis. I oversee the planning segment of the business, the forecasting and the producing of the deep-dive analysis. I often coordinate with the department heads at Cambridge and report on their global budget. I also look over the tax department, which includes international tax that covers all global jurisdictions that Cambridge has a presence in.

How long have you been at Cambridge?

I’ve been at Cambridge for a little over two years now. I started off as a Senior Financial Analyst and recently was promoted to Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis.

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day starts off with daily communications. Coordinating with my team to go over the game plan to assure we are on schedule to deliver. The first two weeks of the month are crucial, as we are working to deliver financial reporting packages.

Did you always know that you wanted to work in finance?
I obtained an associate degree in marketing before I completed my bachelors in accounting. Although the sales side of me always wanted to pursue a career in a different direction, I personally felt working in finance might be more of a stable career.

How has Cambridge helped you in your career development?
Since joining Cambridge from its days as a privately held company to the days leading up to the acquisition by FLEETCOR, the learning opportunity and the room for development has been extraordinary. There is a lot of talent in this organization, as I am learning from my peers every day.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Our team, the atmosphere and the culture, especially in the finance department.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Sometimes it can be overwhelming, because there is a lot to get done. In the finance sector, there are times when you do have to put in extra hours. We are now at a stage where we have put in the time and have automated a lot of our processes, which helped us build that work/life balance.

What project are you most proud of at Cambridge?
The integration of Cambridge and FLEETCOR. A lot of individuals played a key role in this process and I know our team definitely was one of those teams. I am happy that I was able to contribute.

Before working at Cambridge, what was the most unusual job you had?
I don`t think I had an unusual job, but I started working when I was 15 years old. I ran three businesses during this time from my own accounting practice to my wireless business to my import/export company.

What are three career lessons you have learned?

1. Being a people person. You will always build good relationships, whether you are on the sales side or the back office.

2. Being passionate about what you do – you will find good results.

3. Hardworking.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work in financial planning and analysis?
My recommendation for someone looking at a career in FP&A is to start building a solid understanding in general accounting and financial reporting. This will give you the foundation needed to further develop your skills in FP&A. In FP&A you learn how to think outside the box, you are constantly coordinating with various departments gathering information (sales, ops, technology) to understand how the business runs and makes its money. Providing variance analysis vs budget/forecast, to be able to thrive at this one should learn and understand the bigger picture. Once you understand the business as a whole, you can succeed in anything.