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Thanks fellas, I appreciate your thoughts.


Any thoughts on graduate certificates? Are they worth the money? I’ve never met anyone with one.

I’m thinking about applying to Johns Hopkins University in their MS Finance program, but am not sure if I want to do another full MS program. They offer a Financial Managment Certificate (8 credits) that I think would supplement what I am currently doing work wise pretty nicely. The MS is 36 credits and I’d have to come out of pocket, at least, $16K for it (if I plan it right my company would cover about $30K).

I’m also thinking about their MS in Applied Economics with a Financial Management or Investments Certificate program (30 credits).

I was also mulling over the idea of getting a graduate certificate through Harvard’s extension school (Corporate Finance), but it’s the same situation, is it worth it?

Anyway, thoughts?


So, more thoughts rolling around in my head lately…

I’ve been reading a bit lately about big data, specifically that a high percentage of CFOs are looking for their finance staff to be versed in big data analytics. It seems pretty obvious this is more than just a trend. I know first hand we spend millions on data feeds for analysis. So I think it makes sense to consider spending some time (and money) learning about the subject.

I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions on where to start? We use SAP and Oracle, both appear to have certification programs. There are also MS programs from what I’ve seen.



I’m working on some big data projects, and it depends what angle you are approaching with. There are companies spending billions (GE), startups, and others who are investing heavily in this area and it is not straight forward. Most have massive data crunching engines.

If I was to start on a more technical angle I would 1) learn to code so you can learn to query databases and manipulate data yourself and/or 2) refresh on advanced statistics with a big lean towards data cleansing and finding trends. A big aspect of data analytics is able to ignore the noise to get a clear picture, but you have to determine what is noise and what is valuable data.


To start I’d be approaching it from a purely financial perspective. As in, would a better understanding business/data analytics be useful to our finance department and ultimately our CFO. I’m currently an analyst in operations financial planning department for our U.S. operations, but we report and tie into our global financial reporting structure.

We are also investing heavily in data, but to scale (I doubt we’re investing even close to GE at roughly $4B/ gross annual sales).

What exactly do you mean by code? I’ve spent some time using SQL queries would you suggest further knowledge here or actually learning a programming language like c++?

The most advanced topic I could brush up on is multi- variable regression analysis… It sounds like I would need to take a few stats classes at the very least?

I appreciate the input.


Really depends on what database structure your company uses. We use SQL, so being able to pull queries from than in an intelligent way is a huge leg up if you want to run analytics on the data. I would suggest further knowledge route instead of a new language that is more app/video game centric, but definitely ask around to see what would be the most helpful. Here’s an infographic on languages

I know some people who want to get heavily into it are getting their masters in data analytics or probability/statistics. As with most schooling, I’m sure there are some classes that are more beneficial to others. I think you could probably learn some by doing online courses, going to a local school, or self-studying with a good stats book, whatever is your style.


I did. Hence my absence from the forums (and the gym) for this extended period of time. Between that and prepping for my second child (a boy, due in December) life has been a little hectic lately.

I am really enjoying the job. Kept all the staff. Everyone is just taking care of business. I have a very good handle on most of the collecting aspects of the job but the Assessment part is still a learning process.



Haven’t read book, but thought it might be of interest to some here.


Two questions:

  1. Are there any controllers or CFOs here? I’m curious what your career path and educational background look like.

  2. Any MBAs here? I’m thinking about UMDs program, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the cost.


Starting mine next week. Had similar reservations but talked to a mentor of mine who is a former executive recruiter and now executive at a fortune 500 company. He said, “If you want people like me to hire you, you will get it”

Reached out to quite a few people and the consensus I got was that if you stay with the same company it probably won’t do much for you. If you change companies it can be a differentiator.

My hesitations are because I think higher education has turned into a professor cirlce jerk and a ripoff compared to real world experience… but hey, if that’s what it takes to get hired I’m game. I’m also an engineer so getting business credentials will help me a lot.


Controller here. I was a non traditional student, went to school at night while working as a low level A/R accountant. Got my MS Accounting, then took an internal audit job for about 6 years, I stayed because I liked the job and enjoyed the travel. I got my CPA while working there, they paid for everything. Ended up going back to the company that paid my tuition as a Financial Analyst, then got promoted to Controller for a sister company.

What hurt me a few times was no big 4, and as I was 31 when I graduated, I was too old to really get a look from any of the big 4. Age discrimination was an issue for me until I got a couple years controller experience under my belt, now I regularly get offers. You have to find your own path, and although I detest the fact that big 4 experience means so much, I would recommend doing 2 years if you can.

I have never really had to do a cost benefit analysis on any of this because all of my education and certifications were employer paid.


That was sorta what I figured. I assume it’s part-time (where if you don’t mind sharing)?

The company I’m with is great, but I don’t see a future here beyond 10 years or so. Our corporate HQ is in NYC and I seriously doubt I’d move that direction for a job. The wife is on track to be a partner in her accounting firm in MD.

Lol, ya, me too…

I have somewhat of similar background (I’m currently a financial analyst, CMA not CPA, & am just shy of a MS in Accounting). Did you find the audit job was a key to you becoming a Controller? Has it helped you in your role?

Similar boat. I’m 30 now and I don’t have big 4 experience. I should have pushed for it harded when I finished undergrad (was 25 at the time).

My employer will pay $5K/year for grad school and it does help. I’d still have to come out of pocket about $10K a year for UMDs program, though. That’s not terrible at all, but still I want to make sure it’s worth my time and money.


On the subject of mentorship, where/how did you find a mentor? I don’t really have one here and, being a Marine, I understand how important that type of guidance can be.


@Kayrob do you have any assistant controllers under you? If so, what do you look for when hiring them and, if you don’t mind, what kind of salary would you bring them in at?


Yes part-time. Still trying to get my employer to pay for it, but I’m in the oil market so the chances of that happening are tought right now. I’m going to University of Houston. Choice was based on their quick application process and cost. Some applications took close to a year to get accepted, I didn’t want to wait that long even though I think I have the test scores and resume to get in there.


I’ve been a controller at my current company for 8 years - reporting to the CFO. I have a Masters in Accounting and a CMA certificate. Both were critical in getting my current job, and the one before that (it was a Controller position at a smaller company). I’ve considered going for a CPA - I have no intential of working public accounting (and never have), but it would look good on a resume.

I would definitely recommend getting your Masters, and either the CPA or CMA.


I got lucky as my main mentor moved in next to my parents when I was 12. When I interviewed for the MBA the lady said the letter of recommendation he wrote was the best she’s read in her 15 years of vetting candidates.

Other mentors are former bosses, my dad, and co-workers who I respect.


An MBA or a Masters in Account or Finance? I’m almost finished an MS in Accounting, do you think that’s enough?

I’m a CMA as well.

Also, same question, do you have any assistant controllers under you? If so, what do you look for when hiring them and, if you don’t mind, what kind of salary would you bring them in at?


Its funny… I work for a mid-size CPA firm and we regularly bring in big 4 people who have between 1-3 years experience. With a lot of them its almost like bringing in a fresh college grad with how little they know. If the job they get assigned to isn’t right in the wheelhouse of whatever specific industry they worked on previously they are completely lost. It actually causes many issues when they are supposed to be filling a senior role and know less than the staff person below them.

One of the partners here told me that if you’re going to go Big 4 you should suck it up and stick it out for as long as it takes to make manager or you won’t really see the payoff. I can see the logic and I definitely see many former co-workers getting pigeon-holed when they go private too early in their career.


This has been the consensus from what I’ve been told as well.