Corporate Controller - Pretzels, Inc.
DAY IN THE LIFE
5:30 a.m. Alarm goes off and it’s time to start my day. This is the time of the day I get to myself, so I decide to work out, do my daily devotions and have some quiet time before my day gets going full steam ahead.
6:30 a.m. I wander out to the kitchen to pack my lunch and make my breakfast. During breakfast, I flip through my emails to see if there is anything pressing that came in overnight that requires my attention first thing when I get into the office.
7 a.m. Time to get ready for work. I wake my daughter Lenore up to get her ready for school. She is in pre-school and is very disappointed if she doesn’t get to see me before I leave.
7:15 a.m. I am ready and out the door. Fortunately, work is a 10-minute drive, so I don’t have to deal with a long commute. The biggest delay I may face is getting behind the occasional school bus, but today there is nothing to hold me back.
7:30 a.m. I arrive at my office ready to start the day. There are only a few co-workers in so far, so I am able to get some work done before it gets too busy. Our senior accountant sent through her cash reporting from home this morning, and I review it to make sure there is nothing surprising. I also go through four shift reports to get a sense of how production ran yesterday at both of our plants.
8 a.m. I need to update our weekly cash flow. I pull together all the cash reporting from the last week, along with accounts receivable and accounts payable aging reports. Then I assess how last week’s actual cash flow compared to the budgeted cash flows for the week, and the cash flow outlook for the next 13 weeks to make sure our operating cash flows line up with our projected EBITDA. Once the report is approved by the CFO, I will send it to the private equity firm that has a major interest in our company.
9:30 a.m. Right now, our operations team is focusing on waste savings to drive profitability, so they are taking a hard look at discretionary overtime. They requested a report to show how this has trended over the last year and can be updated on an ongoing basis. On the surface it seems like a straight forward request, but it gets more complicated since they do not want to include the overtime that is scheduled as a part of our 2-2-3 12-hour shift schedule. After several iterations, I get what I believe is a solid report.
"There are so many things you can learn by working on projects that may not even be finance related. Don’t be afraid to offer your help. Projects like these help you learn more about the business and make you a more valuable team member, which will help you progress in your career."
I am going stir crazy from sitting at my computer for the last three and a half hours. I decide to take a break and walk through the plant to see how production is running today. We run eight pretzel lines and two extruded lines here in Bluffton. We also have two pretzels lines at a plant in Plymouth, where the focus is on producing our peanut butter filled pretzels.
We recently closed another month. I create our monthly margin files so we can compare our standard margins to our actual margins to see where we have opportunities for improvement.
It’s time for lunch. I warm up what I brought and eat at my desk. I go through any emails I haven’t taken care of yet. I also check in with our senior accountant, accounts receivable clerk and interim accounts payable clerk to see if there is anything they need my help with before I jump into my next project.
We were contacted by the thirdparty pallet company we use about some variances found in a recent audit that need to be addressed. The audit goes back three years, so I know this is not going to be easy. I finally find the main source of the discrepancy after looking at the data. After scheduling a conference call with all involved parties to discuss the findings, I make a note to work with warehouse personnel to determine better practices to eliminate these discrepancies moving forward.
It’s Tuesday, so it’s time for a check run. Our accounts payable clerk has been out for a couple of weeks, so I am responsible for cutting our checks today.
The CFO and I have a conference call with another CFO. We are considering a piece of software that will be “bolted on” to our ERP system and serve as a valuable tool. We are curious how it can help us, so we are talking with this CFO who has used it with a few companies he has worked for during his career.
I touch base with the rest of the finance team to see if there is anything pressing
they need my help with before the day is over. Then I return to my desk to work on a project in our HR management system. Our HR team has recently deployed a recruiting piece as part of our employment application, and they are looking to get some more functionality out of it. Since my first large project at Pretzels was as part of the implementation team for the employment application, and I am the only one still at Pretzels from that team, the HR group asks me to help when they have issues or want to investigate using the system in a new way.
It’s almost time to call it a day. I take one last look at my email and then look at my schedule, and I notice I have a trip to our Plymouth facility coming up. I start to make a rough schedule of what my trip will look like. I also start a list of tasks I need to tackle tomorrow. Like always, there is more on my agenda than I will ever get done in a day.
Ready to head home. As I leave the office I walk by the employee appreciation shelf to see if there are any good snacks to take home. As employees, we can take some product home each week. There are some pretzels I grab for snacks at Lenore’s school. I also see some barbecue cheese curls that don’t show up very often and are probably my favorite item we make, so I grab a bag of those as well.
I get home and Lenore wants to play a game before dinner, so we play a quick game of Skip-Bo.
I help my wife Krystal finish up dinner and we eat. During dinner Lenore wants to know what we are doing tonight, so I suggest going over to my grandparents’ house for a visit.
"Accounting can open the doors to many aspects of business because the company’s financials drive so
much of it."
As usual, my grandparents are excited to see us. Lenore heads for the toy basket, and we sit in their living room and chat. Inevitably the conversation turns to stories from when they were kids, or when they were raising their kids. Krystal is expecting twins in the fall, so we talk about how things are going to drastically change. Before we leave, Grandma makes us a snack, and we head for home.
Once Lenore is in bed, Krystal and I have some time together without a five-year-old interrupting us or listening to everything we say. We review some projects that need to get done around the house before the twins are due in the fall. We also start looking at additional baby items we need since there will be two babies.
It was another long day, and I head to bed.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS CONSIDERING THE PROFESSION
If you don’t already have your license, I suggest getting it as soon as you can. It only becomes harder and harder the longer you wait. I have never held a position that the license was required for, but it has opened so many doors. I believe the license doesn’t just say, “I am a capable accountant,” but more importantly it says, “I have the ability to put my mind to something important and can achieve what I set out to do.”
Don’t just look at accounting as taxes, auditing, or debits and credits. Accounting can open the doors to many aspects of business because the company’s financials drive so much of it. Decisions in all departments are made from data that often originates from the finance team; consequently, careers that start in finance can easily evolve into other areas.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG PROS WANTING TO ADVANCE IN THE PROFESSION
There are so many things you can learn by working on projects that may not even be finance related. Don’t be afraid to offer your help. Projects like these help you learn more about the business and make you a more valuable team member, which will help you progress in your career.
Taylor Aschliman, CPA
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, B.S. in Accounting
430 employees (320 at our Bluffton location and 110 at our Plymouth location)
I lead the finance department and support other departments as needed.
I started my career with a few small manufacturers before coming to Pretzels. I worked for Pretzels for three years before leaving to work for Sabert Corporation for about a year and half. I returned to Pretzels last fall when they were sold to a private equity firm.
WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK
Married to wife Krystal for eight years, daughter Lenore (5) and twins expected in the fall
: Running (my daughter also wants to run her first race this year), cooking/baking, personal finance, spending time with my family