How to Crush Your First FP&A Job

Table of Contents

Your First FP&A Job

Was your first experience in FP&A easy?

If it was, you are a legend and should teach the world your approach.

The reality is, that doing something for the first time is usually challenging.

And FP&A adds its complexities with numbers, business partners, and deadlines.

20 years ago, we started dabbling in FP&A with our first roles.

Hear what helped us hit the ground running.

It might help you shorten your own FP&A learning curve.

Listen on

FP&A Jobs Can Be Daunting but Full of Learning

Learning how a business operates is evergreen knowledge for your career.

It can help you:

  • Get promoted at your current company
  • Find jobs at other companies in similar industries
  • Prove to potential employers you can learn another business

FP&A is the perfect place to learn how a business operates.

Let’s dive in to learn how you and your FP&A teams can hit the ground running.

🔥TIP: Learn how to plan your first 6 months as an FP&A Manager.

Show Notes

  • 01:20 – Take ownership of your job—that’s why they hired you.
  • 02:45 – Stay organized—you’ll be asked to do a lot of tasks at once.
  • 05:00 – Question everything—you and your boss won’t know everything.
  • 06:50 – People want to help, so ask them for it.
  • 07:15 – Write your key learnings down every day—be proud of that list.
  • 07:55 – We repeat—ask people for help and take good notes.
  • 08:55 – Share what you learn with your peers and team by recording it.
  • 10:00 – You can learn SQL from your engineers by asking.
  • 11:40 – To be a great leader, lead with learning—show your team how.
  • 12:36 – Ask questions, be organized, and embrace learning.

What can you expect in your first FP&A job?

The phrase “drink from a fire hose” covers it nicely.

There are deadlines you need to meet.

Adhoc requests you need to complete ASAP.

And people from all business functions asking for data you may not have at hand.

You can look at this in 2 ways:

  1. Holy sh#t, I’m going to tap out to stop the craziness
  2. Holy sh#t, I see an opportunity for me to level up my career skills

We recognize option #1 is tempting—it crept into our brains too.

Here’s how to take on option #2 and maximize your learning.

Note that either option will likely trigger you to say a choice adult phrase.

🔥TIP: Here’s an approach to help you ace your next FP&A interview.

Why FP&A Is the Ultimate Learning Platform

We may be biased.

But we’ve experienced firsthand how FP&A propelled us and others around us to new career heights.

Here’s why:

  • FP&A offers a holistic business view—there’s no place for revenue, expenses, and cash to hide
  • FP&A is a field where continuous learning is needed to succeed across data, communication, and business knowledge
  • FP&A engages with ALL departments and provides unique under-the-hood views at business operations

The trick is to accelerate your FP&A learning curve by hitting the ground running.

🔥TIP: Get really good with data by learning Excel data tables.

🔥TIP: Learn how to present financial info in a way people will actually pay attention.

🔥TIP: Business partner with your Marketing Team to learn that part of the business.

Ways to Speed Up Your FP&A Learning Curve

Think of FP&A as a wet towel.

And the opportunity available to FP&A is the water absorbed by the towel.

Your trick is to wring out as much water as possible.

Here are 3 things that helped us wring out the proverbial FP&A wet towel:

#1. Take Full Ownership of Your Job

You will be given tasks like:

  • Variance analysis
  • Expense management
  • Reporting

Rise above the numbers and spreadsheets.

Understand what the numbers are, how they come to be, what they mean, and ways to make them better.

Even if your boss doesn’t ask you to.

🔥TIP: Here’s how to complete variance analysis.

#2. Leverage The Resources Around You

Everyone starts out knowing close to nothing, including us.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The trick is to take great notes and constantly learn from those around you.

Leverage already existing resources like your company’s wiki page.

You’ll find gold in the form of business knowledge.

#3. Learn Things Outside of Your Job Scope

As you learn and meet new people, something awesome happens.

New areas of learning open up.

Embrace those new areas, even if it’s outside your job scope.

You’ll be surprised at how relevant that learning can be to your job.

Conclusion: You Can Shorten Your FP&A Learning Curve

Getting FP&A jobs can be challenging.

But once you land one, maximize the opportunities they offer.

Don’t fear knowing nothing—rather embrace it and become the expert.

You got this FP&A thing.

How was your first FP&A role?

Share your experiences by leaving a comment or emailing us. We read and reply to every message.

Now go have fun making an impact on your business and your career!

Drew & Yarty
👉Follow us on LinkedIn

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