“A Day in the Life” Series: Financial Controller

“A Day in the Life” Series: Financial Controller

Meet: Brian

Title: Financial Controller

Location: Montvale, NJ

Time with Sulzer: 1 year, 9 months

Team Size: 1.5 (Administrative Manager  spends half-time for Controlling Department) 

Quick overview of role: 

I manage the preparation and reporting on all financial areas at the corporate level, as well as the financials for all development projects (the core of our business).  I work closely with Sulzer’s President, Julian Offermann in aligning our financial goals with the organization’s strategic growth.

On an average day…

6:00am– Enjoy a cup of coffee, on my private back deck, weather permitting before starting my day. Occasionally, I have a friend or two who joins me

 Brian’s friend, Mr. Fox!

7:30am– Leave for work. I have a very enjoyable commute for practically the first time in my career. It is a 20-minute trip with a wide diversity of music available from Sirius XM.

8:00am– Arrive at office (generally the first or second one here).  I check the bank balances: I am mainly looking for fraudulent activity, or any other anomaly if the balance is quite different from what I expect it to be. I review my calendar for the day to ensure I am prepared for scheduled meetings or to determine what needs to be done in preparation, as I make the best effort to send out material in advance of the meeting.  I also review the calendar for next 3 business days and I prioritize tasks that require completion for upcoming meetings.

9:00am– Work on task lists priority items, usually based on the calendar for that day and other near-term meetings.

10-12:30pm– Meetings and priorities vary by day. Depending on the week of the month, I have different activities to do. During the beginning of the month I focus on completing and analyzing the prior month’s financial reports in addition to attending my regularly scheduled activities and meetings. Mid-month, I concentrate more on the strategic direction of the Company. I review how we are tracking actual financial performance to the budget. I also focus on how we are tracking to the financial metrics we have created based on our past performance and anticipated future projects and opportunities.

1:00-4:00pm– I am also in charge of financials for our development projects and try to commit some afternoon time in this area. In addition to my accounting background, I spent many years as a project manager. The combined experience allows me to understand the challenges that our Project Managers and teams are up against and enables me to better understand the difficulties in tracking and adhering to the projects’ financial metrics.

5:15pm– Wrap up, review next day’s calendar and update the task list.

6:00pm– Attend Spin class at my gym almost every day. It is very convenient as I pass it on the way home, so if I do not stop some days, the guilt factor kicks in.

An inside look at Brian’s spin class.



7:30pm– Arrive home, frequently with takeout food as my wife gets home at a similar time and we are not up to cooking.

8:00pm– Weather permitting, I usually complete the day back on my deck, with a beverage other than coffee. 😊





Favorite part about role:

I love the automation in today’s financial world. It allows me to focus on results, as opposed to creating the reports which took much more time earlier in my career. Being in an innovative technology organization allows me to have some custom reporting done by our management team when necessary. The above outcomes enable me to focus strategically in conjunction with the President.I am at the bottom of the totem pole in technology capabilities in this company of creative, youthful individuals, so I enjoy the opportunity to try and learn new things in that area to help make me more efficient in my role.

Words of advice for someone starting their career:

I started my career as a controller in a start-up technology company and earned my MBA in Finance part-time in the evenings.  I then moved to the healthcare industry as a controller.  During this time, I realized how far behind the healthcare industry was in the technology field. I gradually worked my way into a career change and was a technology project manager in both small companies and a Fortune 100 company, though I had no actual technology education, unless you go back “a few years” and count Basic Programming and COBOL college courses where there is a computer lab with 5 computers for a class of 30 students to complete your work.  

I’ve been back in the accounting/finance area now for the last 5 years, recently combining my financial and project management background in a growing innovative technology company.  It is exciting learning from many young and intelligent technology team members, while serving as the veteran and hopefully providing some useful guidance in life lessons to some team members who come to me for various topics.

The move to technology was risky and was full of many challenges, along with high rewards and some distressing results.  The roller coaster ride was well worth the effort and I encourage you to take chances and move outside your comfort zone when the opportunity arises, or better yet, when you proactively make it happen.


About the Author

Cassidy Layton