Tag Archives: training

Chief Financial Officer

For the past tw0 years I have had the honor and privilege of being the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a nonprofit. The organization is a 501(c)7 with annual gross receipts under $50,000.

Image from http://myob.com.au/

I have learned a lot in these years about accounting, forecasting, budgeting, insurance, tax, credit, statistics, and reporting. In the beginning I relied heavily upon resources from preparing for my PHR and World at Works’s Accounting and Finance for the Human Resources Professional. I got to expand my experience in leadership, as the role was an Officer of the organization (reporting to the CEO and on the same level as the COO) as well as management as I had two “minions” that reported to me and assisted me with various items (one was keying data, the other with preparing taxes.)

In my tenure, I accomplished all of the goals I set those 26 months ago. Let me illustrate the situation when I started the role: 5 months before I took the role the former CFO was found to have (and admitted to) stealing funds from the organization. Due to on going investigations I can’t say much, but corporate counsel has stated I can share it was tens of thousands of dollars. The organization, being 100% volunteer run and operations financed 100% by donations this was a huge challenge to take on.

I am very happy to state that through my aforementioned skills (budgeting, etc) and working with a fantastic Executive team, I was able to repay nearly $10,000 in debt; build up a financial cushion of $10,000+; create reporting where previously there was none; documented the heck out of policies and procedures for a layman to understand and is also compliant with FASB standards. Repairing the trust of the organization donors was of paramount importance, to which I went to great lengths to improve transparency surrounding all financial matters. I reduced financial waste with the new procedures/policies saving the organization $1,000+ annually. My biggest accomplishment was playing forensic accountant and going through the previous three years of records to audit, amend taxes, and provide documentation towards the on going actions against the former CFO.

I am very proud of this accomplishment and experience. Like all good things, this is coming to an end. I have submitted my resignation. Being that it was a volunteer position (aka no pay) and it takes a lot of time (30-40 hour a week!) I feel I need to redirect my energy and time into that which pays me and being a more well rounded individual for better balance, grounding, and thus leave me able to offer more in what I do. I look forward to training my successor and ensuring that they are set up for success, so that the organization can also be successful.

Regulatory Environments in Compensation Management


Photo Credit HR Benefits Alert

On December 7th I sat for the World at Work C1: Regulatory Environments in Compensation Management test. There was a lot going on – I tried the eLearning option, it was a new testing venue for me, and the information itself.

For the T1: Total Rewards Management course I bought the cheapest package only to stretch my annual education reimbursement allowance. I was a nervous wreck not knowing how World at Work testing went, how their materials would prepare one, etc. In the end, I kicked the tests butt passing with a 93%. Despite how it appears with having passed the PHR, FPC, CPP, and now the T1 and C1 I am not a good test taker. I took the SAT three times and never cracked 1100 (out of 1600.) I took the GRE and got another perfectly mediocre score. So the fact I’m doing well on these tests is something I am proud of, though other than putting in the time to repeat the information enough times I’m not sure how I’m doing it.

Since the year was ending, I decided to splurge and test out one of the more expensive learning options World at Work offered – E-Learning. At first I thought it was really cool – I could listen to recordings while multitasking so that I could absorb the information almost like through osmosis in addition to reading, taking summarizing notes, and making/going through flashcards. There was the added benefit that the presenter did include some mnemonics and stories to flesh out the information on the slides (that were identical to the book.)

I passed the C1 course with a 93%.

I had to laugh that it was the exact same pass rate as the T1 course. In the end, I don’t think the recordings helped me any (though they may help others!)

As I did with the T1 course, here are some things about the C1 to prepare one for the test.

  • It is 114 minutes to take the test, not including the system tutorial. (I time it this time, I took 2 minutes to do the tutorial, but the full 6 minutes were taken from my overall countdown.)
  • The test is 110 questions.
  • The end of chapter test questions are on the test itself.
  • Everything is contained within the book.
  • There are some second and third tier reasoning questions; this test was more like the PHR where you had to know your stuff to pick the best question. (Unlike the T1 which was primary level reasoning that is basic regurgitation.) However, that level of reasoning is only about 20% of the test, the rest is primary.
  • Case law was helpful in studying, but did not show up on the test. There were no questions asking about Griggs V. Powers Duke or any other case.
  • There were no “gotcha” questions on minutia like I found on the T1 test (which was only 2-3 questions anyways.)

I was disappointed somewhat that the first testing venue was no longer an option since it was so close to home (5 minute drive!), though it did have it’s own issues (sound proofing.) This venue was odd as well, in it’s own right, though much more professional.

I purposely chose the C1 course during Year End and Annual Enrollment time because it appeared to be mostly information that reinforced basics from the PHR and that come up at work often with clients. Basically, I knew the course would be easier for me than others so I took it during a stressful time frame to balance the over all load on my brain and nerves. I still never managed to get holiday cards out, despite this balance. :

Two down, and seven more courses to go before I get the CCP and a 3% raise. 🙂  

Greener Grass

Photo credit http://www.scenicreflections.com/

You know the old adage  the grass is greener on the other side -until  you have been sitting there a while, and another plot of grass seems better than where you are even though it was new and shiny once and appeared better than where you were before.

It’s cyclic. Most people get complacent and want more/better/etc. This is true in lifestyle and career.

So I’ve got a  two part theory on how to retain employees who have gotten comfortable and looking to move on. Part one: give them more work and/or work that is more meaningful/difficult than they are currently doing. Part two: let them interview elsewhere.

Personally I have found that when one has reached that comfort zone and they are unhappy they want a challenge. They most likely rock out the metrics of the job and would enjoy more scope and/or depth to what they are doing. Let’s face it, the workforce is not made up of robots who are just cogs in a machine – and no  one enjoys feeling as if they are! (And don’t talk to me about how they should be grateful to have jobs – that scare tactic doesn’t work, even in a down economy because we are still people with hopes, dreams, fears, and lives outside of work and what we do for work.)

Now, a caveat to the first part – be sure that you give your people the time, tools, resources, etc to handle the additional or more difficult work. Just because they are efficient and productive doesn’t mean that they will easily be able to add this extra into what they do now.

I’m sure you are most curious about my wild part two. I have found that most employees when they see the reality of what is “out there” be it internally or externally they develop a better appreciation for where they are or clarification as to what they want/need. To hedge your bets on the side of retaining your employees, don’t place stigma on this so that they will chat with their HR rep or manager and train them. Train them on how to interpret job descriptions, interview questions, salary discussions, work environments, etc. Yes, it means that some of the smoke and mirror employers use will be taken away from your organization too – but in this day and age with social media and increased methods to find information it’s better to play it straight.

Knowledge is power. Knowing what really is out there will empower employees to make decisions. And if you are worried that your culture/pay/etc isn’t up to snuff to retain? Maybe that is something that can be worked on. Sure there will always be desperate people out there who need a job – any job – but once they get it and grow comfortable, then what? Think long term both for your business goals and for the human resources to achieve them.