Today, we’re celebrating Deb Mitrenga’s recent four-year anniversary with 8020 Consulting! In our Q&A, Deb reflects on what she enjoys about Client work, explores advice she would give to new hires and shares what she’s looking forward to in the next year.
1. What do you enjoy most about working at 8020?
First, I enjoy working on projects that challenge me in a variety of ways. I like the adaptability and agility needed to jump into dynamic and ever-changing environments. My second Client is dynamic, ever-changing, fast-paced, and it’s utilized everything that I’ve enjoyed doing during my career. I’ve been able to utilize my experience in financial modeling, FP&A, analytics, internal controls, audit support, process improvement, project management and systems and data integration. All these areas have come into play at different times, and that’s what makes it exciting.
Second, it’s rewarding to see the progress and results of my efforts. Whether it’s making incremental improvements, streamlining processes or building out complex financial models, the results can be long-lasting and produce repeatable, accurate and timely results for the client.
Finally, engaging and partnering with clients, providing expertise and guidance and collaborating and sharing knowledge with others builds meaningful, lasting relationships.
I like being here at 8020 to have a variety of experiences and make a positive impact. I was at another consulting firm before this, and the intensity is greater at 8020 because the demands are greater. There is a big difference. The types of Clients and the type of work that they need demands a high level of expertise and Consultants who are adaptable and agile. Our Clients aren’t typically asking for people to fill simple roles and complete simple tasks. They want Consultants who are versatile, can draw upon their broad skill sets and contribute where needed.
2. Can you tell me more about how the work demands adaptability?
I’m currently on my second project, which is approaching four years in duration. That tenure is unusual, but the project has certainly evolved over that time. For the first year and a half, the focus was on completing or building out complex financial models for revenue recognition for several audit periods. Many challenges arose during the initial phase, which included data integrity issues, system complexities, resource constraints and evolving requirements, all of which competed with tight project deadlines and intense stakeholder demands. It was fast-paced, grueling and dynamic, but I thrive in that type of environment. I enjoy troubleshooting, getting creative and being innovative, so I really got hooked on that first part of the project. Exhilarating, exciting and exhausting are the words that come to mind for the first year and a half.
There were several members on this team who worked seamlessly together to build out the deliverables needed to successfully complete the audits. The first phase of the project was a success, which resulted in the Client being acquired by a large, global company. The next phase of the project was initiated by the Client and had a very different focus on building more ongoing, stable, repeatable operational processes and models for revenue recognition.
The central demand was to reduce the close schedule significantly while meeting new reporting requirements for the new corporate management in place. We had to leverage what we did for the audit, but build something that was repeatable, could quickly produce accurate results and get reporting out there quickly. By focusing on repeatability and leveraging the tools we had, we were able to get to a stable place over several months.
Internal controls became the next focus of the team. This phase required working closely with the audit team for reviews of deliverables, walkthroughs of financial models, doing a deep dive into complex formulas and calculations and establishing an overall cadence for adherence to controls and policies.
The project has been constantly evolving. Recently, we shifted focus to migrating to a longer-term revenue recognition solution while keeping current processes stable, meeting internal and external audit demands and closing within tight deadlines. Continuous data reconciliations are part of the migration effort while reviewing the new system’s capabilities and exploring where I can be of additional service to the Client. I always try to embrace new systems and tools, so helping the team migrate to a more advanced revenue recognition system is rewarding.
At times, my growth is up to me being proactive and figuring out where else can I add value. Any time I feel a lull, I start looking around. Where else can I go? What else can I do? I search it out.
3. What advice would you give a new hire at 8020? Or perhaps a younger version of yourself?
A one-line elevator speech would be: “Embrace the project, partner with the Client and be passionate.”
I also would add that when possible, blaze that new trail, create that new solution and work diligently to make the Client successful.
Further, it’s important to enjoy the camaraderie. Project work happens so fast at times that the end of a deployment can seem sudden, as can the realization you’re going to miss the project and the Client. There are so many memorable moments, and it’s important to enjoy them. Partner with people, get to know them and their backgrounds. It really is a journey.
I’ve thought about what I would tell myself if I could go back. Maybe this comes with building financial models and solutions over years, but I would tell myself to think big from the beginning. When someone says, “Well, we just need this, this and that,” you can get trapped if you build something that only considers the initial request. They may come back with many more requests, and before you know it, you could have a large, complex solution that was built piecemeal and not operating efficiently. I think big from the start now, and I build in growth so the solution can endure as the Client evolves.
4. What are you currently looking forward to?
I always look forward to my next challenging project. I joined 8020 for career growth and expansion with dynamic, complex clients.
I am also really, really looking forward to travel over the next year. I have trips planned to Europe, Puerta Vallarta, possibly Hawaii, and a cruise to Cabo with close musician friends and multiple artists performing. I also have a special trip to Antarctica planned, which will complete my travel to all seven continents!
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Deb has more than 20 years of diverse financial and operational experience in business technology solutions and IT consulting companies, communications systems, biotechnology and energy technology. Prior to joining 8020, Deb worked for Accenture in lead finance operations roles as well as leading projects internally and at clients. Deb worked for Avanade which was a start-up company between Accenture and Microsoft. At Avanade, Deb held financial leadership roles which focused on managing regional financial operations and leading process improvement and remediation projects. Her expertise includes FP&A, budgeting and forecasting, financial operations management, cash-flow forecasting, financial modeling, financial systems integration activities, and business process improvement. Deb holds an MBA in Accounting from DePaul University and a B.S. in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Deb is a CPA and has her PMP Project Management Certification.