Mr. Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, has more than once mentioned four requirements for finance staff.
1) Finance can only provide low-value accounting services if it does not understand the business.
2) Finance must be self-motivated by a desire to improve and grow.
(3) Finance personnel who do not have experience in project management are unlikely to grow into CFOs.
4) A competent CFO should be readily available to take over as CEO.
In a word, finance staff should be integrated into the business. In this article, the Huawei finance woman’s statement, between the lines, we can read the kernel of Huawei’s “pre-sales finance”.
Looking back over the past eight years, I’ve flown about 400,000 kilometers around the world, covering five continents.
Eight years ago, I made a split-second decision to attend an interview at Huawei.
At that time, it was the last semester of graduate school, and everyone was looking for a job all over the country. For a girl, the best choice seemed to be to become a university teacher, with a decent, easy and stable job. But I was born with an innate personality that wanted to see the outside world, to make a new world by my own struggle. The Huawei interview was the most special interview I ever had. The seniors who organized the interview, who were not much older than me, showed us a new and strange world with their great enthusiasm.
Luckily, I got an offer, and the amazing journey began.
How to practice
A pair of fire eyes?
My first overseas stop was working as an accountant for SSC in Argentina. It was a country full of passion, romance and warmth.
I’ll never forget the scene when nine of us fresh graduates stood in front of our supervisor, all brushing against each other. The supervisor had a complicated look on his face, both happy and annoyed that the work could be divided, but annoyed that the newcomers could not do anything.
Soon, we organized the business induction training, both to test, and to defend. The supervisor thought we were a group of petulant students, but the fact is not so, after work, who do not want to test behind, are secretly competing. I remember the most difficult is to compete in the manual preparation of A7 reports, there are many countries ERP is not yet online, before the end of the month need to upload manual reports to the system. It was a holiday, many colleagues went to the big glacier to play, but I did not go, on the 7th day, finally learned to learn. That was the first little beast I knocked down.
For every accountant, the most painful is the monthly closing, any link must be stuck point to complete, once there are exceptions, beyond the deadline, it will affect the next link others work, I have also cried several times because of the pressure. Of course, there are many happy moments.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the earth, footprints on 5 continents.
I remember at that time, C country two subsidiaries, two sets of accounts, revenue involving the old and new systems, manual accounts, especially, often carry forward uneven, and need to resolve differences in a limited time. One year end, I was responsible for dealing with C country revenue cost checkout, until almost 12 o’clock at night, the cost of services subjects or not even, the next link in the general ledger colleagues desperately pushing, after a whole day of high intensity operation, I have been extremely tired, can not find traces, that moment, about to collapse. I consoled myself to calm down, in accordance with the contract to query the record of each month’s transactions, a little check may be a problem with the link, and finally in an inconspicuous corner, found that the Excel macro program can not identify the irregular format of the contract, thus omitting a contract transaction data. Grasping the culprit, I breathed a sigh of relief, pounding fast heart finally calm down.
After I finished my own work, I went on to help a local employee find the problem. Later, she bought flowers and gave me a bouquet, and I felt a sense of accomplishment as I looked at the bright flowers and smelled the fragrance.
There is a big difference between me and my local colleagues in terms of personality, I am very anxious and tend to make mistakes when panicking. I found that the local employees are slower to do the accounts, but rarely make mistakes.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the world, in 5 continents.
In fact, navigating in the kingdom of numbers is also a lot of fun, from seeing a large number of Excel sheet a pile of dense data headache, to be able to quickly find the most critical data in a number of worksheets logic, to find errors, I have gradually become a pair of fire eyes.
I still have a lot of good memories of SSC Argentina. He said he had never seen so many girls in his life. He was surrounded by flowers, like walking into the Kingdom of Daughters, and we were all the roses in the Kingdom of Daughters.
Be “abused” a thousand times!
“You” is like the first love.
In 2011, I was in charge of the accounts receivable for the Mexico and Central America representative office, and one day I got a call from the Jamaican finance manager, who said that the largest operator in Jamaica was being acquired, and that we and our client had a huge, ultra-long-term civil construction debt that had not been collected and needed to be cleared. To add insult to injury, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) was on to this big project and suspected Huawei of tax evasion, issuing a $15 million fine and initiating a tax audit. I immediately cancelled my original vacation and rushed to Jamaica.
My first impression of the client CFO – friendly and smart. He always wore a smile, was a gentleman, and when the elevator met, he would offer to help me press the elevator so I could get in first. He arranged for me to come to the client’s office every day to reconcile with the accounts payable specialist.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, flew 400,000 km around the world, in 5 continents.
The project has been five years in the making, and it was very difficult to reconcile all the earlier documents, and some of them were lost and missing, and we had to get help from the technical department to make them up. Everything went smoothly at first, but then there were twists and turns. It was close to the end of the year, in order to meet the auditor’s verification requirements, the customer CFO wanted the national finance manager to sign according to the “payable to Huawei balance” recorded in the system first, and then continue to check, but our “balance receivable” and the customer’s “balance payable” were not the same. There were discrepancies of tens of millions of dollars between the “balances due”, which were the subject of dispute between the two parties, and which the financial manager could not do because of professional ethics, which caused great tension between the two parties and led to the suspension of the reconciliation process.
I approached the CFO again and asked him to let go of his bias, but he ignored me. On second thought, I remembered that the CTO was straightforward and friendly, so I asked him to help convince the CFO to continue supporting the reconciliation. He didn’t give me a straight answer, but asked me another difficult question: can you help us confirm the cost of each site? I didn’t hesitate and said with confidence, “No problem!” At first he took the attitude of disbelief, said I do not know the technology, absolutely can not do, always try to avoid me. Can be my “harassment” more times, finally began to give me technical problems, drawing site construction diagram, talk about the principle.
To collect site dimensional data, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I every day, and the customer grasping the time to check, many nights, I pulled together with the customer finance staff overtime until 11 o’clock, which makes me somewhat guilty, but they told me, they were impressed by my serious, willing to accompany me overtime, let me touched. As I lay in bed at night, all I could think about was still what to do next. In a small country, I have to take on the role of not only finance, but also account manager and even delivery manager, in multiple roles.
In parallel, I had to accompany the country’s finance manager to meet the auditor to explain our business and invoicing rules. Due to the complexity of the civil project and the fact that many of the old logistics delivery documents could not be found, it took a lot of effort for us to catch up on the materials. Of course, there were many good moments. There were many mango trees on the road to the auditor’s office, and the finance manager used to jump up and pick ripe mangoes for me to eat, which was the sweetest and most delicious part of those hard days.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the world, on 5 continents
After three months, I completed the reconciliation and had the client sign the statement. The client’s finance manager gave me a thumbs up and said, “The reconciliation couldn’t have been done so quickly without your persistence.” The CTO, on the other hand, was amazed that I did the mission impossible in such a short time, allowing him to figure out the cost of each civil site. A week later, the client was paid back $50 million and the AR liquidation was triumphantly completed. The auditor also later signed an unqualified audit report and the IRS no longer demanded a penalty.
Those days were the most abusive I’ve ever felt, yet again – the client abused me a thousand times, and I treated the client like my first love.
From ten thousand miles apart.
To fight side by side.
In 2012, I was in charge of the revenue accounting of the representative office in Colombia, where revenue often backfired and low inventory turnover was a serious problem, so I went to verify the country’s revenue recognition issues, hoping to sort out improvement measures based on the problem and guide the PMO to complete self-management.
In life I am a bit shy, not sociable girls, the first day of office, the first one or two hours, I just sit in front of the computer and stare at the screen, fast typing the keyboard, dealing with emails, not talking to others, and keep sending emails to the business department to ask this and that, asking for improvement issues, delivery supervisor simply do not pay attention to me.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the Earth, footprints across 5 continents!
I clearly remember the first thing I said, which was very direct and full of fireworks: why is your LTE project backfiring on revenue every month since IFS went live? The delivery supervisor was stunned and replied, “We have to meet our targets!” At the time, I thought the business was looking out for its own interests, not following the rules and using the system out of process, resulting in finance having to spend a lot of time on the back end cleaning up the mess. We were so busy that we were prone to “crashes” at checkout, and the business had to ask for a reconciliation at the end of the month, so we had to work overnight.
Communication meetings are like a debate. But the business as the opposite side, but also sincerely pointed out that the reality of the situation is difficult to immediately fully comply with the global standardization process, can not be cut across the board, improvement to have a process. I thought to myself: it turns out that my business colleagues are not unreasonable, part of the demands are reasonable, and the tone has become more friendly.
The delivery supervisor said, “I didn’t understand before that unstandardized processing would create such a large workload on the back-end platform and that I didn’t know what to do about it.” I said, “I’ll observe and learn the business process before suggesting improvements.” After a month, when the improvements were in place, he happily said to me, “You’ve been so helpful to us that we applied to SSC for you to travel for a year to help us establish rules and thoroughly sort out business issues.”
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the world, on 5 continents
A weekend end, I was in the financial office office, delivery colleagues suddenly called me to tell me something important, I thought it was a major problem at work, a breath from the 9th floor to the 15th floor, into the office actually found in front of a big bag of snacks, there is a beautiful bouquet of flowers, surprised. They worked overtime with me, and also offered to learn to understand the checkout process, and I was so pleased with myself, it felt so good to be recognized!
Once separated by thousands of miles, poor communication and many arguments have occurred, now, through face-to-face communication, we have frosted off, clarified the revenue business process, helped PMO self-management, financial back-end uselessness is reduced, avoid all the business concentrated at the end of the month to deal with, scattered in the middle of the month.
That year, I reached the most obsessive state of work, when the numbers match the business drivers, the more interesting the study, often alone in the office overtime on weekends, sleep and forget to eat, completely immersed in this sense of happiness. The revenue recognition problem was finally solved, and I was given the title of “heroine” by the local CFO.
Burning to death to “break in
In addition to being involved in the back-end financial process, we prefer to be involved in the pre-sales process, as 80% of the issues can be avoided in the pre-sales financial design process.
In 2016, I was given the task of helping with the design of new business models for pre-sales projects, where my previous position was at the forefront of budget estimates, but now I have to face the customer and be involved in business model design at the earliest stage, which is a real first, calling me to support the Network Sales Solutions Department of the A Systems Department, where the customer is investing a huge amount of money in a subnet to modernize their fixed network, and all of us in the Systems Department are taking this very seriously.
The project had a long investment cycle, but the high proportion of civil works services did not necessarily mean high profitability, so it was important to determine the profit model and calculate the return on investment. The client is a financial company with a long term view, and such a commitment to building a network means that the first year or two will not be profitable. I read in the financial report the client’s determination to “get it” and the hope that it would be able to borrow the chickens to lay the eggs and operate with light assets by innovating its business model. The change in the IAS lease accounting scheme made it even more difficult to operate as an asset-light operation. What to do?
I discussed investment calculations with the project team, interpreted financial reports with the financial department, analyzed the client’s surface financial pain points and their underlying causes, and kept digging for the other seven-eighths under the iceberg. As a financial expert sent by the authorities, the project team had high expectations on me. Can’t I be of any use here? No, I have to find out. I’m anxious, the time for clients to demand a response is getting tighter, it has to be fast.
Huawei female accountant, 8 years, 400,000 km around the world, 5 continents.
The client both wanted to do the project and did not want to grant the budget, meaning there was a shortage of money, and a shortage of money within the company to find sales funding. But the project team said it was not a funded project because the client did not want to borrow money. Upon learning this news, I was a bit depressed and my burning hopes were dashed once again. Every day, I locked my brow and had a bitter face.
One day, I met an old colleague, majoring in finance, at the company cafeteria for lunch. I told him about my frustration, and he mentioned the concept of sharing, which gave me vague hope. I planned to ask my colleague in charge of sales to find out what was going on, so I spent a whole afternoon, brewing and sending a long email about the background, progress and prospects of the project, with important documents attached, for fear that they did not understand. The next day, I received a reply, they provided four models of asset release: three of them did not match, but when I saw the fourth one “network sharing, bridging resources”, I got excited: that’s it! This means that two or more operators share an infrastructure network, which greatly reduces the cost of infrastructure network investment for the operator, and bridging third-party resources means finding a third party to take on heavy assets, which can enable Huawei and its customers to get their assets out of the table. Next, I searched through all the business model and financing-related materials I could find and read them like they were treasures. After reading through it, I got the system department finance together to discuss it and immediately started to draw up a model diagram.
However, the plan had to be approved by the regional ministry’s finance and subnet finance. I encountered frustration at the first meeting, as my colleagues were not too keen on the scheme, finding it difficult to operate