In honor of his 10-year anniversary at 8020 Consulting, we sat down with Seena Mostafavipour to discuss his favorite projects, how he’s grown since joining the company, his advice for those considering a career in consulting and more. Seena has worked on a variety of projects during his tenure at 8020, ranging from streamlining inventory management processes to supporting massive corporate acquisitions.
1. Can you describe three of your favorite projects at 8020, with a focus on the challenges and outcomes achieved?
One that comes to mind is a project I worked on for a well-known film and distribution company. They had a complex and manual inventory management accounting process that involved using 17 different Excel files and took around two weeks to complete. I suggested using MS Access instead and built a database with all the information and mapping tables. Then, I developed queries to automate all 17 steps. The end result was a process that could be completed within an hour or two, which was a huge improvement.
Another project I enjoyed working on was supporting a big entertainment acquisition. During the transition, they needed something called a temporary service agreement (TSA), which was a complicated Excel sheet with cash flow statements. My job was to ensure that the costs associated with the service agreements were split properly, which involved attending meetings with various teams and ensuring invoices were in line with the agreed level of service. It was challenging, but seeing the impact of my work and being able to consolidate all the information was rewarding.
Lastly, I worked on a project in Tokyo centered on building a new amusement park and two rides. It was fascinating because they used a lot of project management terminology (e.g., earned value, floats and scheduling) to make sure everything was in line with stakeholders’ expectations. What made it even more exciting was that I was able to use this project to get my PMP certification, which was a great achievement.
2. How do you think you’ve grown since you were hired at 8020? What core skills have you developed the most over the time span you’ve been with the company?
Since joining 8020, I’ve learned a lot more about various systems and obtained two certifications. But what I’m most proud of is the development of my soft skills. Learning how to effectively communicate and work with different people has been crucial in navigating difficult situations with Clients or within a team. It’s essential for getting projects done efficiently, especially when there are roadblocks to overcome. Being able to communicate and navigate awkward or challenging situations is key to being a successful Consultant.
3. What do you enjoy most about your work these days?
I enjoy being a go-between for teams with communication issues. By listening and encouraging progress, I help projects get completed and alleviate the tension between teams. It’s like being a translator in a foreign country: people are grateful for the help. Building trust takes time, but by working together, everyone can be more productive.
4. What advice would you give someone considering a career in 8020?
Overall, it’s different from a typical finance or accounting job, but you’ll get a lot more capable and gain a lot of knowledge by working on projects in different industries and with different systems. While it may be tough at first, you’ll acclimate faster to new circumstances and environments with each project.
Also, as a Consultant, you’re less invested in internal politics and can offer unbiased solutions. So, be patient and keep an open mind.
5. How do you stay on top of the current trends or changes in technology?
To stay up to date with the latest technology used in finance, I read articles on new features offered by innovative and popular software systems. As a Consultant, I’ve gained exposure to a lot of new tools used by different companies. However, it’s also important to maintain a basic understanding of how newer tools work.
My experience doing user acceptance testing for financial systems implementations and building MS Access databases has helped me understand how newer technology can be used to improve someone’s day-to-day experience and effectiveness. (For example, you can create a lot of value by building enough reference tables and creating code that links them together.) Additionally, anyone in finance and accounting has likely encountered many annoyances with financial tools and hoped for better options. As a Consultant, you’re often in a place to address those sorts of annoyances, so it’s important to be aware of different systems, approaches and usage scenarios to be able to predict where technology is going and anticipate future limitations.
6. What was your career trajectory prior to joining 8020 Consulting?
Before my current job, I worked at Harbor Freight Tools. I initially joined as a retail ops analyst but later transferred to the finance team. While there, I learned a lot, not just in FP&A but also through user acceptance testing and working with hardworking people. The culture was tough, but I gained valuable experience that made me more competitive in my field.
Looking back, I would have told my past self that I could achieve everything I wanted in finance.
7. What keeps you interested in the work you do?
What drives me is the opportunity to work with different companies, learn new cultures and meet people. As someone who used to be shy, I now love learning about people’s experiences, identifying problems and helping solve them.
I find it motivating to be able to offer advice and solutions when Clients need my help. While I used to focus on gaining experience and developing myself, I’ve now reached a point where I feel comfortable with new systems and can use my knowledge to effectively help teams, companies and processes. Learning a new system is no longer as daunting, and I can easily identify patterns and similarities between different systems. Now I can focus on what the Client wants to achieve and use my knowledge to come up with solutions based on my past experiences.
8. Can you describe the culture at 8020 Consulting?
The culture at 8020 Consulting is great. One thing that really stood out to me is that the company doesn’t tolerate working with jerks. I’ve met a lot of smart and nice people, and when I call up a colleague, I know they’ll do everything they can to help me. It’s especially helpful to talk to senior Consultants like Scott Longacre, Brian Barton or Ellen Vayner, who have more experience and can be great resources.
9. Can you describe the type of work or projects you aspire to undertake in the future?
In the future, I aim to become a project leader for a multi-phase or large-budgeted project or serve as an interim CFO for a company. The interim CFO role is a crucial service we provide here at 8020 Consulting, where the financial leader sets up processes or keeps the company afloat while the client looks for a long-term hire. It’s like Consulting on steroids, with the entire company’s financial vitality at stake. It would be a personal and professional thrill to reach this level someday.
10. Are there any individuals or groups you would like to express gratitude towards?
I want to thank the company for keeping me on board for so many years, the partners for finding us work, especially for those of us who are starting out in the industry. Additionally, I am grateful for the Clients who were patient with me as I learned on the job and helped me grow professionally.
Finally, I want to thank our supportive network of colleagues who are always willing to lend a friendly ear. While there are many people I could thank, these three groups have been instrumental in my growth and development as a Consultant.
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We take pride in nurturing long-term relationships with our team members and our Clients. If you’re interested in working on our team of accounting and finance professionals, visit our careers section of the website, where you can learn more about life at 8020. You can also put in an application for consideration by following the instructions at the bottom of that page: