Imagine this: You’re deep in the intricacies of business, where understanding the dynamics of various functions is not just crucial, but a game-changer. Recently, we had the pleasure of speaking with Tamsyn Parry, a seasoned Finance Director who’s been reshaping her team’s business understanding through business acumen training.

Tamsyn has served in leadership roles for fifteen eventful years, discovering how the right business knowledge can ignite significant change throughout an organization. You may be wondering why a Finance Director would advocate for business acumen training across her organization. Well, the answer is two-pronged.

The initial catalyst for Tamsyn’s journey began when a fellow finance manager in Australia presented a robust endorsement of this not-so-obvious training solution. The manager’s accolades centered around the concrete benefits his team had harvested from the training. This ignited Tamsyn’s curiosity and drew her interest. Beyond this recommendation, Tamsyn had an additional motivator – she foresaw the vast potential that a more comprehensive business viewpoint could confer upon her team, thereby connecting the dots back to why a Finance Director would champion business acumen training.

In her experience, finance professionals often find themselves engrossed in daily tasks, unaware of the broader business landscape. This training, as she explained, lifts the veil. It provides a map that illustrates their place in the organization’s journey and how their work influences the company’s trajectory. 

Finance teams are diverse, hosting a myriad of roles, each providing a unique perspective. Tamsyn highlighted how business acumen training aids finance professionals of all ranks to understand their roles’ significance. It makes them comprehend how their contributions shape the business landscape. The outcome? More insightful interpretations of account variances and an enriched decision-making process.

We asked if people understood 3 key metrics that are used by WV New Zealand, a charity committed to making a difference: 

  • CPA (Cost/Acquisition) ratio 
  • ROI (Return on Investment) ratio
  • Percentage of Income promised to the field

Even though these ratios were not discussed in the program, the workshop introduced a wide range of finance terminology, and people discussed the metrics amongst themselves. Tamsyn was a little surprised that the non-finance group greatly improved their understanding of the key ratios, these metrics are essential for ensuring that the largest possible percentage of income goes directly to the charitable field where it’s needed most.

Pre-Workshop: 45 % of responses from non-finance persons indicated they understood the three ratios

Post-Workshop: 78 % of responses from non-finance persons indicated they understood the three ratios

Drawing from her rich experience, Tamsyn shared instances where a lack of shared perspective led to tension between departments. Cross-functional training, she found, can serve as a bridge over these troubled waters. Like a rock band finding harmony, it’s all about hitting the right notes together, and in the case of WV New Zealand, those notes are all about empathy, love, and making a positive impact. 

While she expressed a desire for our business acumen course to delve deeper into cross-functional organizational understanding, she acknowledged the benefits of including staff from various departments in the training. These sessions created a fertile ground for idea exchange, broke down barriers, and cultivated mutual understanding.

Before the workshop only 36% of non-finance persons believed they had a good understanding of how the various business pieces fit together to create a coherent set of actions and a financial result.  After the workshop, this number had risen to 83%!  This is a significant improvement and should be noticeable in the day-to-day operations of the company.

As a leader, Tamsyn understands the importance of balance when navigating differing views on financial matters. The solution, she says, lies in open, enlightening conversations. Just as a conductor leads an orchestra, she ensures every opinion contributes to a harmonious decision-making process.

In conclusion, our engaging conversation with Tamsyn illuminated the transformative role of business acumen training in the finance department and across the organization. It enhances understanding, encourages cross-departmental collaboration, and fine-tunes decision-making processes. These insights guide us in refining our courses, ensuring they remain relevant, engaging, and beneficial to all participants.