Charlie Love is the leader of Aon’s Centre of Excellence for Finance based in Kraków, Poland. We talk to him about his experiences at Aon, Kraków.
Can you tell us briefly about your experience at Aon?
Charlie: I’ve been with Aon for seven years now. When I joined Aon I started off as a Finance Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, in London. Since joining I’ve been lucky enough to get the opportunity to change my role every two or three years and the amount of opportunities for personal development is one of the things that has kept me at Aon and kept me excited . In my experience, Aon provides opportunities to people who want not only to develop themselves professionally but are prepared to take on new challenges.
In Kraków, 70 per cent of the managers we work with have joined us through internal promotions and I’m really proud of that. Externally, we are also trying to attract talent to develop and grow within Aon’s culture.
Looking at Aon globally, what makes the Polish Centre of Excellence special in comparison to all the other international entities?
Charlie: Poland in itself is special, that is why our major Centre of Excellence is here and this is where we shape the future of finance. Aon believes we have a perfect environment here in Kraków with a highly educated and motivated workforce that are capable of really taking on more and working in partnership with our onshore businesses. That onshore/offshore business model is very important to us and we find it a perfect fit with the highly skilled and motivated workforce available to us in Poland, specifically Kraków.
Do you offer any strategic processes in Kraków CoE?
Charlie: We started off the finance centre five years ago as we recently celebrated our fifth anniversary. In the beginning we focused on very transactional processes, such as PtP (Procure to Pay) or RtR (Record to Report), but after that we’ve gone very much up the value chain to more knowledge based activities, including things like FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis), where we provide our business partners and sales leaders with timely and accurate financial information, as they require it. To achieve this, we need to be near shore business partners interacting on a daily basis with overseas teams, not only understanding the financials, but also the commercial drivers that underpin our business.
In relation to global cooperation, can your team in Kraków be described as international?
Out of 200 people in our finance centre we have twelve from Poland who are overseas at the moment on international assignments, in geographies ranging from Chicago to Singapore, London and other European capitals. These are local Polish finance employees that have seized the opportunities to develop their skill sets and grow career within the Aon family overseas.
In terms of teams in Krakow, in FP&A team we have two individuals, one from the US and myself, who are from overseas. In our controllership teams we have a real mix of nationalities generally speaking, about three to five per cent of our team in Kraków are actually non-Polish. However, for the most part I am committed to developing talents from the local market into future technical expert & leadership roles. For me, the next generation of leaders in Kraków should actually be elected by tapping into local human resources.
What about the future of FP&A? How do you see your department, as well as and the whole business in a few years?
Charlie: I think that with all the new technologies coming in, FP&A is going to become a much more exciting and relevant place to work. Technologies such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation) will eliminate the need of heavy lifting and allow our analysts to focus on what I call the ‘foresight’. So, in FP&A the biggest growth area is represented by forward-looking analytics. With the basic reporting and close activities involved with FP&A being automated through the use of new technologies. We will take that resource and deploy it on foresight-based analytics, which is really a value added to the business, allowing them to make better and more informed business decisions, and drive better results to the firm. FP&A is at a cross roads where we are going to automate a lot of standard reporting that we have now and spend much more time on looking ahead and on our relationship with and understanding of the business.
Would you say that you perceive RPA as an opportunity, not a threat to your business?
Charlie: Yes, absolutely. I see it as an enabler to providing much better service to the businesses which we support allowing us to and grow what we are able to provide to the business. Actually, thanks to that FP&A will provide greater influence across the firm.
We already have some robots that are in sandbox environments and are currently being tested. I hope that by the turn of the year we will have them live and delivering value to us.
Full interview with Charlie Love was published at: https://www.careersinpoland.com/article/working-in-poland/financial-planning-analysis-at-aon-career-for-life?a=1