Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Agents of Change Show How to Win in Finance

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

Modern Finance Experience 2018 is in full swing—and on Day 2, we rolled out the red carpet for 10 of the brightest stars in the finance universe.

The Change Agents of Finance Awards have become an annual tradition, and this year’s winners were honored with a ceremony and celebration at New York City’s historic Rainbow Room, high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Highlights of the evening included fireworks over the Hudson River and the Empire State Building lit up in traditional Valentine’s Day red. 

But the main attraction were our winners: 10 inspiring stories of success in finance, along with 12 distinguished runners-up.

And the awards go to:

Frugal Finance Award

Recognizes dramatic cost savings using Oracle ERP and EPM solutions.

Dominic C. Canuso, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, WSFS Bank
WSFS Bank is parent to the oldest and largest bank in Delaware. WSFS was managing its businesses with a mix of disparate systems and various manual and spreadsheet-driven processes. But WSFS has undergone significant growth in the past five years via M&A activity, with a goal of doubling in size. To meet that goal, CFO Dominic Canuso knew that the organization needed to resolve the timing, data quality, and integration issues that made it difficult to access critical information. WSFS selected Oracle ERP Cloud to help achieve its goals, working with implementation partner Grant Thornton. WSFS expects to achieve a $12 million return on investment from streamlining processes, optimizing resources, and the ability to make better decisions from real-time, accurate data.

Runner-up: Mike Metzger, Associate Director of Financial Systems, The Kraft Heinz Company

Better Together Award

Recognizes fruitful integration of Oracle ERP Cloud with another Oracle Cloud solution.

Darren Robb, Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer, Park Hotels & Resorts
Park Hotels & Resorts—formerly the real estate investment division of Hilton—spun off in early 2017. To eliminate any dependence on its former parent, Park Hotels wanted to move operations to its own financial system. It chose to work with Grant Thornton to implement Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle Integration Cloud, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud, and Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud. The new solution eliminates the need for manual journal entries and manual file loading, accelerating the period close and giving Park Hotels the ability to accurately project budgets and forecasts. The highly automated and standardized processes are helping Park Hotels to maximize efficiency, reduce risk, and free up employees to focus on growth. After being part of a multinational brand like Hilton, redefining a company as an independent entity takes leadership, dedication, and vision—all of which Darren Robb embodies.

Runner-up: Kevin Riley, Chief Financial Officer, St. Luke's Hospital

Fast Finance Award

Recognizes a fast and effective implementation of Oracle ERP Cloud or Oracle EPM Cloud solutions.

Michael Mann, Vice President of Transformation, Caesars Entertainment
Caesars Entertainment is the fourth largest gaming and entertainment company in the world. With 47 casinos in five countries and $8.4 billion in annual net revenue, it can’t afford to move slowly. To keep pace with the speed of its business, Caesars decided to embark on a multi-pillar cloud transformation, including Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud. As its first step, Caesars decided to implement Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud for narrative reporting—and Caesars’ Michael Mann, vice president of transformation, wanted it up and running quickly.  Within 10 weeks, Mann and his implementation team, along with consulting partner Grant Thornton, were able to scope the project, train 100 users, and hit their go-live date.

Runner-up: Kirk Waldron, Director, Financial Systems/CoE Controller, Corporate, and Mike Zierhut, Vice President, Information Technology, Allied Universal Security Services

Modern Close Award

Recognizes teams who have leveraged the Oracle Cloud solutions to shorten financial close cycles by a large percentage.

Lori Culp, Assistant Controller, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation
National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) is a growing and expanding business. To support its expansion, assistant controller Lori Culp led a deployment of Oracle ERP Cloud, along with implementation partner DAZ. Culp’s team started with redesigning the chart of accounts to modernize its account segment structure. With accelerated data entry and subledger processing, the company optimized data input rates and significantly improved the ledger close and consolidation process—with increased efficiencies, joint venture processing, foreign exchange calculations, and allocations/deductions. These improvements reduced the close period from 7 days to 4, and improved the accuracy of external reporting. Culp continues to drive business benefit across NRUCFC. She is actively leveraging the reporting capabilities of the Oracle Cloud to provide her executive team with richer business insights.

Runner-up: Maralyn Miner, Corporate Controller, Montefiore Health System

Roll with It Award

Recognizes significant increase in agility using the rolling forecast capability in the Oracle EPM Cloud best-in-class service delivery.

Anand Naimpally, Senior Vice President, Finance, Hilton
Anand Naimpally, Senior Vice President, Global Operations Finance at Hilton, is the executive sponsor for a project to completely re-engineer forecasting and budgeting for Hilton’s more than 700 + properties. Previously, planners at the property level were using a legacy, custom-built application that could not scale globally. Planning methods were not uniform across locations, so analyzing key drivers or other metrics was difficult and time-consuming. Naimpally’s team decided to implement Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud to addresses these issues. The project enhanced Hilton’s operational planning, improving the experience for more than 2,400 users globally. Hilton is now able to more accurately determine the current state of its operations—globally, regionally and at the property level—and create accurate forecasts in a timely manner. SC&H Group was the implementation partner.

Runner-up: Hunter Crittenden, Senior Director, FP&A, Hertz Corporation

Shared Services Superstar Award

Recognizes a shared services organization using Oracle Cloud finance applications to develop digital capabilities to achieve best-in-class service delivery.

Djamel Benallal, Head of Finance Group Solutions, Orange
Orange (formerly France Télécom) is a French multinational telecommunications corporation offering both fixed and mobile services. It has 256 million customers worldwide and employs more than 150,000 people globally. As part of a companywide transformation dubbed “Essentials 2020,” Orange consolidated its financial systems onto Oracle ERP Cloud, freeing its corporate finance team to do higher-level work. Orange head of finance group solutions Djamel Benallal led the creation of a shared services function to support its global finance operations. Through standardization and best practices, Orange has increased transparency and reduced costs, with expected cost savings of 33 percent. The project has become a showcase for other companies looking to understand shared services best practices in the cloud; large companies across Europe visit Orange’s shared services centers to learn and emulate its best practice approach.

Runner-up: Chris Wood, Vice President, Transformation Services, FedEx

Crystal Ball Award

Recognizes financial planning and analysis professionals who leverage analytics to test business models and strengthen business impact.

Annie Ogata, Corporate FP&A Lead, Dropbox
With more than half a billion subscribers, Dropbox operates multiple offices in the United States and abroad. To accommodate its rapid growth, Dropbox needs to hire quickly. The company chose Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud for workforce planning, and Oracle ERP Cloud for core finances. Huron Consulting Group worked with Dropbox to get the cloud up and running in three months. Prior forecast cycles took roughly two weeks, with data collected and manually aggregated in spreadsheets. With the new cloud implementation, data aggregation now takes less than 10 seconds, and can be run on-demand from any location. Dropbox leveraged out-of-the-box workforce planning functionality, multicurrency support, planning and reporting for 30 FP&A users. Ogata was a true change agent at Dropbox, capitalizing on the cloud to identify the right digital KPIs; streamline and automate reporting for better, faster decision-making; and partner effectively with the business to thrive during turbulent times.

Runner-up: Ann Harris, Vice President, Operations and Finance, Hilton 

Top Talent Award

Recognizes an effective combination of Oracle ERP and HCM Cloud solutions.

Brian Crowley, Chief Financial Officer, Beall’s, Inc. 
Beall’s is an American retail brand that was seeking to transform its finance, planning, and HR processes to drive greater efficiency and develop a platform for continued growth. Beall’s is experiencing double-digit growth, with thousands of job requisitions to support its expansion efforts. The finance organization leverages Oracle EPM Cloud to model and forecast store expansion and workforce needs, and the HR organization uses Oracle Talent Management Cloud to attract, retain, and grow its workforce as well as find and place store employees. Brian Crowley, Beall’s CFO, acted as the executive sponsor for this project. In partnership with the DAZ consulting team, Crowley worked with the chief human resources officer on the organizational change management and adoption plan. Crowley exhibited a holistic appreciation for both the finance and HR functions at a multibillion dollar organization, and drove the program to achieve the synergistic benefits of a combined solution.

Runner-up: John Robbins, Senior Director, Business Systems, Bluebird Bio

Billion-Dollar Story Award

Honors finance leaders who have used Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud to achieve dramatic cost savings and efficiencies.  

Christophe Eouzan, Chief Accounting Officer, Orange
Our only double award-winner this year, Orange continues to lead through its “Essentials 2020” transformation initiative. Under Chief Accounting Officer Christophe Eouzan’s guidance, Orange is on track to save a billion dollars—thanks to streamlined finance and procurement operations, increased transparency, centralized core business operations, the elimination of system customizations, improved productivity, and a self-service environment for digital natives.

Runners-up (tie):

Brian Hargreaves, Vice President of Financial Systems, Hilton

Richard Scheitler, Chief Information Officer, The Wonderful Company

Congratulations to all our Change Agents of Finance Awards Winners!

Get ready to submit your nominations for the 2019 Change Agents of Finance Awards. Nominations will open in October.

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