A few weeks after completing a contract role as an FP&A analyst with Marsh McLennan Companies, where Tharanga Gunasekara was assisting with the financial transition following the company’s merger with JLT, the coronavirus pandemic took over — and the world came to a stop. “I was surrounded by chaos and uncertainty,” said Tharanga, “But I used the time to think clearly about how to best shape my career post-pandemic.” And it paid off. He landed his dream job just weeks before his final exams as a financial performance analyst with AMP Capital Australia.
The being of a financial performance analyst
In his role as a financial analyst, Tharanga provides actionable insights into the financial performance of the business divisions, drives budgeting and forecasting processes to increase data reliability, and partners with business leaders to implement cost reduction and revenue-enhancing initiatives.
“Planning and identifying key focus areas based on my target group is one of my strengths,” said Tharanga, a strength he accredited to the knowledge of scenario planning and sensitivity analysis. In addition, he feels that the skill of financial modeling will be essential to pivot business resources to changing business needs. “As a trained FP&A professional, I will seek to lead my business division successfully through this changing landscape,” he said.
Tharanga shared one key challenge he was exposed to in his previous roles: The businesses have operated within their silos for far too long, and it has been quite challenging to break through these old practices to access the information needed. However, preserving the quality of information coming through the communications channels will be crucial to become a value-driven finance organization.
“As FP&A professionals, besides being good at analyzing data and building robust financial models, We need to become effective business partners and great negotiators to trade information. This will lead to better analytics, resulting in favorable business outcomes,” he added.
Growing within the profession
Over the next couple of years, Tharanga plans to enhance his skills in financial modeling, scenario planning, sensitivity analysis, and model-building capabilities. “These skills are critical for FP&A professionals,” he said.
His ultimate career objective is to become a finance specialist in data analytics and digital finance. Tharanga’s first step to achieving this career goal is to enroll in an MBA program in data analytics this year at the University of New South Wales.
Tharanga considers earning the FPAC certification a strategic stepping stone in his career path.
He wanted to improve financial modeling, model-building capabilities and improve his knowledge of business valuation models using Microsoft Excel capabilities. He feels that the FPAC credential has supported him in these objectives through its structured curriculum.
“I am at the early stages of my career as an FPAC professional. I always valued the equal focus in the FPAC curriculum on theory and practical application through case studies. I have no doubt that I will be triumphant when my abilities are tested with the backings of FPAC subject knowledge and FPAC community support.
Tharanga said he holds the FPAC credential in the highest regard and recommends it to anyone seeking to embark on a career in FP&A. He said it is evident to him how the FPAC credential has shaped his career so far and equipped him with the skills needed in the FP&A space today.