Does your average work day consist of IM (instant messenger) chats with Argentina, emails from India, and phone calls from Brazil? It is a possibility if you are working for a global company, or in my case, interning with the Global Financial Planning and Analysis team (FP&A) at Monsanto. This summer I am learning all about what it means to be part of a global organization and gaining knowledge and experience in unexpected ways.
I grew up in Carmel, Indiana, which is about 15 miles north of Indianapolis. I have been exposed to agriculture my entire life as my family has an 850 acre farm in Central Illinois. We grow corn and soybeans, using mostly DeKalb and Asgrow (Monsanto) brands along with some Syngenta seeds. In the U.S., being a farmer is becoming less common, so I feel fortunate to have farming in my background.
This fall, I will be a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My major is Agriculture and Consumer Economics with an Accounting concentration.
Global FP&A… Huh?
One of the most important roles of the Global FP&A team is to investigate the story behind the numbers. Each month on the 10th work day a designated person from each of Monsanto’s worldwide regions, load their forecast into an Oracle based system called ARC. The forecast tells my team what the region expects to be happening in the coming month. We start analyzing the forecasts that were given by comparing them to the forecast from the previous month and from the same month in the year before. By doing this, we can compare and see what is changing.
Then we hold a lot of conference calls! Each analyst speaks with the Regional FP&A champion starting with Europe, then Brazil, Latin America North (Mexico, Peru, Colombia, etc.), Latin America South (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, etc.), India, and finish with Canada. During these phone calls we discuss the story behind the numbers – the activities happening in the region that are driving cost changes. For example, there has been a lot of rain in the Midwest and many farmers have not been able to spray Roundup on their soybeans because the fields are too wet. This could cause Roundup inventory levels in the U.S. to be different than what was originally predicted.
My Internship Projects
The Supply Chain organization is growing and developing every day, so it needs finance and accounting support to analyze that progress. A few projects that my team is working on are related to delivery costs and customer care metrics. I work on the delivery costs piece, which entails tracking and analyzing the costs associated with storing and delivering seed in each region. Tracking these metrics helps leaders of the company identify opportunities for efficiency and cost savings. Imagine trying to track one bag of corn seed from a production facility to a warehouse to a grower and determine all of the administrative overhead that is needed to do so. This is what I am trying to accomplish. Part of the project is to create a system that will automatically update and analyze the information so that it is easy to track every month moving forward. It is great to know that I am able to make lasting contributions to my team!
Another project I am working on is a parity analysis. Parity determines the effect of exchange rates on the gross profit of Monsanto. Before I started my internship here, I spent two weeks traveling in Europe for a class I took on Supply Chain Dynamics of the European Agri-Food Sector. I went to Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, which are all countries that use the Euro. I had never really thought about the effect that exchange rates could have on the profitability of a company; however, it can create a significant gain or loss in the business. For Monsanto, doing parity analyses means dealing with over 80 currencies!
Last, but certainly not least, Monsanto is very keen on development. I have spent an entire afternoon learning from professionals by getting my resume critiqued, learning to communicate with different audiences, and understanding from a recruiter’s point of view how to answer behavioral interview questions. I also participated in an accounting case study which required us to determine corn production levels and do a cost analysis based on our production level. It is amazing how much this company invests in the people that work for it!
My summer at Monsanto has been a great learning experience, and I can’t wait to see where this experience takes me!
Learn more information on student opportunities at Monsanto: http://www.monsanto.com/students