Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Announcing the Change Agents of Finance Awards Winners

My mother had a favorite saying: “The only reward you get for doing good work, is more work.” This has often been true in the world of finance. But no longer.

Today at the Modern Finance Experience, finance professionals who have excelled in leading business transformation were recognized for their efforts. The nominees for the Change Agents of Finance Awards came from companies around the world and were voted on by their peers.

The winners were honored this afternoon at an awards ceremony hosted by Oracle executive vice president Doug Kehring, Oracle senior vice president Rod Johnson, and "Benjamin Franklin"—who, in the spirit of revolutionary Boston, read out a "Declaration of Innovation" announcing freedom from the shackles of on-premises finance systems.

And the winners are:

Katie Eure, Finance Director, Alex Lee

Eure won the “Fast Finance Award,” which recognizes a fast and effective implementation of Oracle ERP or EPM Cloud.

Alex Lee implemented Oracle ERP Cloud in a rapid-phase implementation, starting with the general ledger. The company went live in four months, and has since moved on to tackle the accounts receivable and accounts payable functions in phase two.  

Eure worked with various lines of business to get them on board and to adopt the change. She kept her team focused and on track throughout the project. Eure is a visionary leader with an amazing ability to get people to follow her and build consensus across many different lines of business.

Elinda Boyles, VP of Finance and Administration, Shawnee State University

Boyles received the “Better Together Award,” recognizing a fruitful integration of Oracle ERP Cloud with another Oracle Cloud solution.

In response to a mandate from the Ohio governor to lower the cost of education, Shawnee State University searched for the best technology to modernize and optimize its internal operations. The university implemented Oracle Student Cloud (including service, social, marketing, and sales) with Oracle HCM Cloud, along with Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud for budgeting and procurement.

Integrating all of these processes is helping the university focus on its highest priorities: improving student recruitment and retention, acquiring top talent, and streamlining HR processes. The institution has increased operational efficiency, reduced IT workload, lowered total costs, and improved student satisfaction. On top of that, Shawnee State predicts its overall planning and budgeting processes will increase in efficiency by roughly 30 percent.

Jorge Fernández Ripoll, CFO, Aguas y Saneamientos Argentinos

Ripoll was honored with the “Modern Close Award,” recognizing teams who have leveraged Oracle Cloud for Finance to significantly accelerate the financial close.

Aguas y Saneamientos Argentinos (AySA) is a state-owned water and sanitation company. It needed to expand and improve its finance processes in order to control and integrate cash transactions, bank operations, and investments, as well as generate traceability between departments.

AySA set out on a mission to implement Oracle Cloud for Finance applications—including cash management, which allowed the company to improve integration, tracking, and control of cash operations, banks, and investments. This enabled the company to ultimately decrease close times by a significant percentage and achieve better cost exposure. In addition, AySA automated bank reconciliation processes for speed and efficiency.

Information sources are now integrated into the Oracle system, eliminating the need to open multiple programs to search for information—thus improving the work of the analysts. In addition, Ripoll’s team developed a daily cash flow model, which allows differentiation between the budget and GL account structures. Income and expenses are grouped and displayed in a predefined organizational chart, used for generating management reports without the need to perform a detailed breakdown. 

Andrew Boucher, VP Financial Planning and Analysis, Western Alliance Bancorporation 

Boucher won the “Crystal Ball Award,” recognizing financial planning and analysis professionals who leverage analytics to test business models and strengthen business impact.

Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL) is a commercial bank based in the southwestern US, with more than $14 billion in assets and 1,400 employees. The bank relies heavily on Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud to support its acquisition strategy. For example, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud helped the bank evaluate two acquisitions to see if they made financial sense—from both a profitability standpoint and a capital and risk management standpoint.

Boucher is responsible for producing three-year forecasts for WAL, which involves both capital planning and an annual budget. He relies on Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud to get an aggregate, consolidated corporate view into the forecast. Boucher supports the bank’s management reporting, SEC reporting, planning and forecasting needs.

The cloud implementation took 4 months, with only one FP&A analyst and an Oracle partner for development. Since then, Boucher has pushed the envelope on what Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud can do, exploring new capabilities such as operational KPIs. He is helping Western Alliance Bancorporation realize its growth goals by driving a successful M&A strategy.

Keith Causey, SVP and Chief Accounting Officer, Caesars Entertainment

Causey received the “Top Talent Award,” recognizing an effective combination of Oracle ERP and HCM Cloud solutions.

Caesars Entertainment, the fourth largest gaming and entertainment company in the world, doesn’t gamble when it comes to business transformation. When it was time to modernize, it selected Oracle ERP Cloud (including general ledger, accounts payable, and cash management); Oracle HCM Cloud (core HR, talent acquisition, performance, goals, succession, career, compensation management); and Oracle EPM Cloud to replace an end-of-life system, and to integrate readily with existing on-premises Hyperion products.

Caesars’ strategy is to have a single, connected cloud that spans business functions—providing streamlined processes including invoice-to-pay, record-to-report, core HR, talent acquisition, talent management, and compensation management. The single data model across finance and HR allows for faster, more efficient approvals of financial transactions and reconciliations—which previously spanned multiple systems and required email approval. It also keeps the system up to date as employees move to different parts of the organization.

In an organization as large as Caesars Entertainment, change can be painful. Moving from dated, on-premises systems to a modern, cloud-based solution is quite an undertaking and requires a dedicated and present project champion. Demonstrating excellence in leadership, Causey is the cloud evangelist and agent for change within Caesars, driving the team toward a modern, process-efficient organization.

Caesars owns and operates 40-plus locations around the globe, and change management was critically important to the success of this project. Causey introduced a “champion network” across locations—each whom acted as an extension of the core team to deliver messaging, communications, and training at every location. 

John Mageropoulos, VP, ERP Cloud, GE Digital

Mageropoulos won the “Procure-to-Payday” award, honoring a successful transformation of the P2P process using Oracle Procurement Cloud.

GE Digital set itself a target of moving its finance processes to the cloud in four and a half months for its US and Canada entities. The company took a phased approach, allowing users the opportunity to become familiar with cloud applications, while reducing the risk of a big-bang global deployment. GE Digital implemented Oracle Procurement Cloud—including self-service procurement, purchasing, payables, and inventory.

The phased approach allowed GE Digital to start realizing the benefits of the cloud early on, using lessons learned from early stages—such as stronger focus on data conversion and integrations—to make subsequent phases more successful. This reduced disruptions to front-end requesters and downstream buyers; as a result, they were able to reduce staffing for buyers from 4 FTE at the start of the project to 1.5 FTE by the end.

Mageropoulos and his team’s creative approach solidified the moral of this success story: experience is the most productive of teachers.

John Mageropoulos, VP, ERP Cloud, GE Digital

Mageropoulos was also the winner of the “Shared Services Superstar Award,” honoring a shared services organization using the Oracle Cloud to develop digital capabilities and achieve best-in-class service delivery.

With multiple acquisitions comes a myriad of complex systems. GE knows this all too well. After the company’s host of acquisitions, it was left with a few dozen different ERP systems around the world.

GE wanted to simplify and standardize on just a few systems, eliminate the costs and complexities associated with maintaining so many different customizations, improve decision making, and close their books faster. It also wanted to modernize the finance function and introduce employees to an intuitive, consumer-grade user interface, which helps in attracting younger talent.

Innovation is core to GE’s mission, and Mageropoulos’ team wanted access to innovation via consistent and frequent SaaS release cycles. The company worked with Oracle to do a proof of concept for its Latin American corporate shared service center. In only 48 days, the team delivered a successful model to quickly migrate to cloud.

The company successfully implemented a full instance of Oracle ERP Cloud in GE's Canadian shared services center in just 7 months, reducing total cost of ownership and providing a platform for growth.

Overall, the company is looking to move 70% of its in-house software to the cloud over the next 5 years and to modernize and optimize key financial processes. It’s now looking at moving GE Digital, its fastest growing business unit (expected to reach $5-15B run rate), to Oracle ERP Cloud, and is actively implementing project portfolio management and innovation management at GE Appliance.

Mageropoulos’s win is a great example of a team that accepted the challenge of embracing ERP in the cloud with no customizations—and become a cloud success story. 

Kristen Stampe, Vice President, Finance Operations, Hilton Worldwide 

Stampe won the “Roll with It Award,” recognizing significant increases in forecasting agility. 

Renee Thomas, Senior Director of Operations, Finance Technology and Planning, Hilton Worldwide

The second of two awards for Hilton, Thomas was honored with the “Frugal Finance Award” for dramatic cost savings. 

Congratulations to all the winners! Visit the awards page for full details—and check back soon if you want to nominate yourself or a colleague for next year's awards!

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