Grayce Analyst, Jacob Whitaker shares his experience supporting a global finance transformation project in pharmaceuticals.

From day one with Grayce, I’ve been assigned to a leading pharmaceutical organisation. I was deployed into the finance transformation project in the North West. This project is one of the largest finance transformation projects in the world, both in size and budget, spanning the entire company. I was deployed into the Group Project and Management Reporting team as a Business / Finance Analyst. In this team, I was responsible for being a key bridge between the technical teams and the business.

Finance Transformation

The biggest challenge was the early and ongoing effort to become an expert in financial systems with no previous experience. The support from Grayce and my line manager was key to my success. I was quickly able to develop a working knowledge of the new and legacy architecture. Applying key analysis skills of large, financial data sets of new systems including Oracle Cloud financial products and Amazon Web services – Redshift. I played a pivotal role in the deployment of the new group finance systems and the retirement of the legacy systems through data quality and integrity activities.

Finance processes previously included many different systems from different sources and provided their own individual reports/outputs. This required many manual steps and reconciliation points which led to longer wait times for results, more likelihood of misreporting and difficulties in global compliance. The program consolidated all the sources into one source of Data, linked directly to SAP, allowing different areas of the business to report and analyse on numbers traceable all the way to the individual transactions. The new architecture has allowed the business to have better visibility of finance data, the statutory reporting times have been reduced by more than 50%, also the cost of running and maintenance of the legacy systems has been reduced.

COVID-19 Impact

As a pharmaceutical company, the COVID-19 commercial impact is varied between different brands/medicines and regions around the world. Some brands have seen an upturn in sales since the outbreak, the global panic initially caused vendors and health care systems around the world to stockpile key medicines in the event that the supply chain was severely affected. Other brands have seen negative impacts with access to hospitals and treatments disrupted.

Like most companies in these times, my client has had to become accustomed to remote working for the majority of the workforce. A promising cooperation with the University of Oxford and my client is paving a way towards a COVID-19 vaccine. Hopefully, the vaccine is going to come to fruition and be in production by the end of the year. The client have coped well in the circumstances and I think that is represented by the soaring share price which is at an all-time high for the company.

The COVID-19 impact has caused a lot of uncertainty in commercial markets. Usually at this time of year, financial analysis is a routine quarterly review of the company’s performance versus what was forecasted. Instead, this year has been a huge effort to try and explore various scenarios related to the virus and how that will look in the financial results for the company. My client was proud to be able to provide excellent transparency at quarterly public results announcements on COVID-19 impacts and it’s thanks to the recent work by myself and the team.

Work Smarter Ethos

I bring a work smarter not harder ethos. A concentration on efficiency and making processes easier and more insightful. In everything I do, I have the downstream process in mind to avoid making unnecessary work for others. In my role, I achieve this by applying my analysis and systems knowledge and provide quality outputs that are greatly accepted by the wider team and stakeholders.

Over my time at the client, I have now acquired excellent business knowledge and systems knowledge which are priceless in this environment. I think the most important thing is to be able to learn and adapt quickly. Being able to pick things up quickly makes you more attractive to new opportunities.

Opportunities to Grow

My greatest achievement was securing my current role as a Finance Analyst within Group FP&A. A role I believed was well beyond my years and an excellent opportunity to accelerate my career. Current stakeholders are now Senior Vice President, CFO, and even CEO! I get excellent exposure to senior stakeholders within one of Britain’s most successful and largest companies. It wouldn’t have been possible if not for the great achievements within my previous role on FT and the key development work in completing my CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting.

The reputation of Grayce Analysts is excellent within the client and word spreads fast! The versatile nature of Grayce Analysts allows project leads to mould Analysts to the roles and get the very best from them. Mostly made up of fresh graduates, the work ethic is high and the desire to learn and develop is strong. This determination I believe is unmatched amongst consultancy providers. What we don’t know, we go away and learn quickly, filling gaps effectively. I’m pleased to say that after two years at Grayce, I will be transitioning into a permanent role at the client to further my career as a financial professional.

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