How I Chose My Career in Finance #MyCareerStoryMonday

Name: Stephanie Metzger

Class Year: 2012

Major: Finance

Position: Corporate FP&A Analyst

Company: YETI Coolers

Can you please describe your career path? (This may include high school jobs, internships, etc.)

My first job out of Bentley was with United Technologies Corporation in their Financial Leadership Program. I graduated a semester early and had NO idea what I wanted to do. I felt that a rotational program was my best option because it allowed me the opportunity to try multiple positions within the field of Finance before committing to a more specific career path.

I interviewed with and received offers from Bose, NCAA, and UTC, all of which were rotational programs. I felt the least connection with UTC’s products of the three companies, but it was the only program that would allow me any chance of moving back to Texas, so I decided to take the job. This ended up being such a great decision for me! In the program I held four different positions, in four unique locations, over the first two years of my professional career. My positions were:

  1. Government Finance & Accounting at United Technologies Aerospace Systems – Windsor Locks, CT
  2. Operations Finance at United Technologies Aerospace Systems – Phoenix, AZ
  3. Customer Service FP&A at United Technologies Aerospace Systems – Charlotte, NC
  4. WHQ Operations Finance at Climate, Controls, and Security – West Palm Beach, FL

I met many amazing individuals that I’m still great friends with today and was able to explore the entire country while finding exactly where I was most passionate in the field of Finance.

After living in four different cities, it was very clear to me that I wanted to move back home to Texas. I started to explore opportunities in Austin towards the end of my rotational program. This ended up being quite a difficult task as, at the time, there were not many people/companies in Austin that were familiar with UTC and how esteemed and rigorous their rotational programs are. Luckily, I was able to land a job at BigCommerce, a fast-paced eCommerce Start-up in Austin. At BigCommerce I held the position of a Financial Analyst and my primary responsibilities were tracking and reporting the Marketing teams’ budget, implementing KPI’s for various Marketing expenditures, and forming financial business plans for new company investments. I loved my job at BigCommerce, it was a truly beneficial experience switching from a very large corporation to a start-up, and I was able to work with some of the area’s brightest individuals!

About 7 months in to my career at BigCommerce, I was approached by a recruiter for YETI Coolers on LinkedIn. I was not looking for a new position, but YETI had always been a dream company of mine, so I decided to learn more about the position. One thing led to another and I soon accepted a position with YETI as a Corporate Financial Analyst, which is my current role today. At YETI I am responsible for all G&A budgets (IT, HR, Finance, Facilities, Legal, Executive) providing monthly reporting, forecasting, and annual plans for each. I also own the company’s headcount reporting process, hiring plan, and annual headcount plan from the financial side. In addition, I am responsible for financial consolidation and presentations for both Internal and External stakeholders. These responsibilities are particularly exciting and challenging in that I get to collaborate directly with senior leadership members to aid in strategic decision making which provides unparallel learning opportunities.

I have been at YETI for about a year and a half and have absolutely loved my experience thus far. It is exciting to work for a company whose products and core values I, and all employees, believe so strongly in. As you can probably imagine, I have WAY too many YETI products and can’t stop myself from purchasing every time we release something new! YETI is a perfect sized company (larger than a start-up, but not a large corporation) to work for as I get a remarkable amount of visibility this early in my career, which I am very grateful for.

In parallel with my professional responsibilities, I am also attending grad school through the University of Texas’ Evening MBA program which has been a rewarding, and very challenging, experience!

How did you become interested in this career?

As I mentioned before, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do going into to college, and even during my senior year of college. I have always been good at math so figured I’d try out finance or accounting… and after GB112 it was very clear to me that accounting wasn’t quite for me 😊. I figured every company, big or small, would continuously need a strong financial workforce which would allow me to be flexible in my chosen industry; so, I decided to stick to Finance.

What aspects of your position do you find most rewarding?

A career in Finance provides visibility to overall company goals, strategy, and aspirations which many employees in other areas of the business may not get to experience. It is difficult to be siloed in Corporate Finance as you and your team influence many decisions for the company which affect multiple areas of the business.

Finance also allows me to collaborate with multiple functions and learn more about what others do, which could help guide me toward a different career path if the opportunity presented itself. So far in my career, I have been exposed to Government Regulations, Manufacturing Factory Shop-Floors, Corporate Strategy, Marketing Projects, Facilities Planning, Headcount Planning, IT Systems and Projects, Legal, Litigation, Brand Protection and Patent work (from the Finance/Accounting side). It is very rewarding to learn from and relate to others in the business – most people love to share helpful advice they’ve gathered throughout the course of their careers’ and explain what exactly they do and how it impacts the company.

What aspects do you find most challenging?

Finance has strict deadlines and very little room for error. Depending on the company, there are some weeks/months where it feels like we are working non-stop and can’t keep up with all deliverables in a timely manner. But in the end, it is truly rewarding and has given me such amazing opportunities to grow as a professional!

In addition, it can be challenging to hold business partners accountable to their budgets and alert them if they are overspending. I have had to engage in many difficult conversations on this topic, but it is a useful competency that has help me become more confident in my communication and conflict resolution skillsets.

 What advice do you have for someone preparing to enter this career?

  1. Do not become discouraged if your Finance classes aren’t “clicking” for you. I was very nervous that I would not do well in Finance because I struggled through a few (most) of my finance classes. Bentley really helped me build a foundation from which I could grow through hands-on experiences in the workplace
  2. If you don’t like a specific position/company, it does not mean you need to change careers. I have had multiple positions in finance, some of which I have liked more than others, but each has been uniquely different. A Finance position could involve various responsibilities at different companies and I truly believe you should try out a few before moving on – there is so much opportunity for growth in this field!
  3. If you are not set on a specific company or career path, join a rotation program. I truly believe this was the best decision I have made in my career thus far, and I am so thankful for the opportunity, friendships, and skillsets that came from my time in a rotational program.

 Are there any Bentley specific courses or resources you would recommend to help someone pursue this career?

My advice here, which I did not follow myself, is to take advantage of every excel, financial modeling, and/or financial systems class/learning opportunity possible. These are the skillsets I have used most in my career and are applicable in all companies and positions.

Who is one person at Bentley that helped you get where you are today?

Coach Sandy Hoffman. Coach Hoffman was my volleyball coach at Bentley who sadly passed away from cancer my Junior year. Coach Hoffman took a risk when she recruited me to join the Volleyball team at Bentley, and for that I will be forever thankful! I would not have attended Bentley, chosen to study Finance, or had the opportunity to start off my career in such an amazing program with United Technologies, had coach Hoffman not recruited me. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to attend Bentley, form lifelong friendships, and start down a career path I am very proud of.

By Yasmeen Alwani
Yasmeen Alwani CareerEdge Content Creator Yasmeen Alwani