Priyanka Nair - Projects & Finance Coordinator
What’s the focus of your current role? What is your purpose?
As Projects & Finance Coordinator, my primary responsibility is within the finance, commercial and procurement team, in which we work towards achieving the best supplier negotiation practices in order to bring value for money to the company. I am also responsible for the monthly smooth closure of financial books, including budgeting, responding to audit queries, receivables and payables management; understanding and reviewing the legal and commercial aspects of both client as well as supplier contracts.
What do you typically do in a full day’s work?
8am – Get ready for the day
At 8am, I arrive for work at the Serco office based in one of our Abu Dhabi university contracts. My team and I look after the finance, procurement and commercial aspects of three prominent university contracts located in Abu Dhabi. Before starting my busy day ahead, I grab a cup of tea and socialise with my colleagues prior to starting work at 8am.
Next, I check my emails and then assess the activities that need to be completed today. Before starting any work, I first jot down a to-do list and prioritise the most important tasks.
8:15am - To-do list
Being the first working week of the month, today's priority is given mainly to the smooth month-end closing, forecasting of the revenue, profit and cash positions and reporting of these financials to management for review. Another part of the agenda for the day is a Microsoft Teams meeting with a vendor on commercial terms and price negotiation for a project.
8:30am - Start on my 1st task based on priority
So based on my to-do list, I need to focus on my month-end closings and preparation of financials first for review to show my manager at 2:00pm, and then jump to an 11am meeting with the vendor on Microsoft Teams.
For my month end calculations, I am supposed to prepare the forecast for the rest of the year and a report and MIS for my manager showcasing the position of our contract with regards to the budget prepared as well as explain variances of any discrepancies. As we work as a team and are also cross-contract trained, I will also support my colleagues in preparation of the financial report and MIS of the contract that she is looking after as today she is occupied with a half day training at her site. Serco firmly believes on the self-development of its employees and as such organises regular training sessions, seminars and workshops for its employees' benefit, which we are truly proud of.
Some of the reports and dashboards created to present to my manager is with an innovative tool called PowerBI that helps in data visualization and analytics. I was given the chance to attend a course on PowerBI sponsored by Serco. This has really helped me in growing my skill set. Innovation is one of the key values that Serco believes in apart from other values – Trust, Care and Pride and really motivates its employees to bring innovative ideas, technology and decisions to the company.
11am - Join the Teams meeting
At 11, I join the Microsoft Teams meeting with our vendor along with a few of my other colleagues to discuss some commercial terms mentioned by the vendor in their proposal regarding the delivery of materials, timeline, price quoted for each material, the payment terms proposed by them, bank guarantee, etc. Negotiating with a vendor is an art and only through experience can one develop that art and I am very fortunate enough to be given such wonderful training and opportunities by my team and manager and to be part of such meaningful discussions with vendors and even clients.
Before this Teams meeting, we gained a good understanding of the proposal submitted by the vendor wherein our team sat for a brain-storming session, jotted down the pros and cons and evaluated the proposal submitted by each vendor. This enabled us to hold a valuable one-on-one discussion with each vendor and tightly negotiate with them so that both parties will be mutually benefited once the contract is awarded.
12:30pm - Lunch
We break for lunch and this is the time we go in-depth with our discussions about family, friends, health, politics, etc. Sometimes, we even try out food from other employees who originate from other countries and discuss the varieties of food and taste. We also have people from different nationalities and people who speak different languages at Serco which gives us a great opportunity to learn about other customs, traditions, languages and most interestingly – food!
The pantry is the common hub for various activities, such as monthly birthday celebrations, cake cutting, celebrations of promotions, etc. Such events help a lot in team building and give us a platform to chit-chat with others. At Serco it is not just work, it is a formula of work + fun.
2pm - Meeting with my manager
Now I have to present to my manager the actuals and forecast position. It is a team meeting between my manager and my colleagues to discuss the current financials, forecast for the year and what other cost-saving best practice initiatives can be adopted that will lead to continuous improvement.
Speaking of continuous improvement, I recollect the fruitful training and development programme conducted by Serco wherein experts from the UK visited to train employees on Yellow Belt – Operational Excellence, from which I was able to bring in lots of valuable insights and projects to the company that helped the company optimise the way we work.
Coming back to our Teams meeting, each meeting with my manager is not just about numbers and work. He has been not just a manager but also a mentor and I have heard similar experiences from my other colleagues wherein their manager takes the pain and initiative to develop and build the inter- and intrapersonal skills of his team. My manager has been generous enough to always share stories of his own work life that he has learned from which I have always tried to get inspired by and apply to my work environment.
3:30pm - General work and administrative tasks
After my meeting with my manager it is time to return to my prioritised to-do-list from the start of the day and see what is left to complete before finishing work at 5. I will check off what I have already completed and move onto the next highest priority task that requires completion. If there are any tasks on my list that cannot be fully completed today due to restrictions of time, accessibility of people or any other issue, I will begin creating the priority list for tomorrow by placing this item on the list in advance. Doing so means when I come in for my next shift, I am immediately reminded of the work that needs doing that has carried over from the previous day, giving me a springboard to get started on another productive day.
It’s the end of a tiring but enjoyable day! I head out back to my home waiting for it to be 7pm at which time there is an online quiz conducted by our Serco welfare team. The quiz sees employees across different contracts coming together on a common platform via Microsoft Teams to have some fun and light competition. The team spirit that is built through such employee wellness activities is brilliant and it creates a very lively atmosphere that builds lasting professional relationships and friendships.
Why would you recommend Serco to graduate jobseekers?
Serco is a company that not only focuses on providing a quality service to its client that goes beyond their expectations but also on the development and well-being of its employees. For Serco, its employees are its assets and as such well-being and development of its employees plays a pivotal role in the organization. There is a culture built in Serco wherein you feel that you are not leaving home every day at 8am for work but rather you are leaving home to another home. You work, you enjoy your work and more importantly you grow each step along the way.
Every day is a new day filled with challenges as well as lots of exposure to opportunities to learn. You will have a lot of opportunities to learn about management skills, people skills, how to effectively manage tough situations, etc. If you have the passion, then Serco will definitely be by your side to support your development and bring you up to the management professional role you have dreamt of. I am a management graduate who has completed a post-graduate diploma in management, specialising finance and marketing and I can say, with my hand on my heart, that yes Serco has helped me grow as a professional and guided me to reach new horizons.