Our series of Viking Profiles aims to shed some light on the some of the lesser-known roles in the gaming industry. Today we’re talking with Viking Lydia to learn more about what it’s like to be a Senior Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis at Big Viking Games.
Q: What is your role at Big Viking Games, and how long have you been with the company?
Lydia: I have worked at Big Viking Games (BVG) for almost 2 years in the role of Senior Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A).
Q: What does a Senior Manager of Financial Planning & Analysis do at a games company?
Lydia: My role has multiple components. I lead the annual budgeting process, the monthly forecasting process, and I am responsible for monthly and weekly management reporting and analysis. In addition, I am the finance lead to support the business departments and it is my focus to gather and analyze data which would provide important insights to the company. These insights then give us a picture of our current and future financial health as well as to continuously maintain the budget and forecasting models. I also support the accounting month-end close process and work on any specially requested projects or ad-hoc analysis.
“The better and more accurately we can forecast, the more robust we will become as a business.”
Q: What does an average day look like for you?
Lydia: My days vary. During month end there are specific activities towards generating reports, adding commentary, and preparing them to distribute to stakeholders. After Accounting closes the books, I am responsible for summarizing the financial position for the last month, the current quarter, and the year to date.
Other times when managers or groups need information, I gather the financials of their special request or I may do a slide deck with analysis to support their project. I’m hoping in the future, I’ll be able to spend more time doing scenario modelling which means that instead of looking only at the current picture of one business case, we consider some sensitivities and see how that affects a financial model. This way, if one or two variables change, we will foresee how our broader financial picture will change as well. The advantage is that each business will understand how they’re contributing to the company as a whole, and BVG will know which mix of variables will optimize financial performance. The better and more accurately we can forecast, the more robust we will become as a business.
Q: How did you get into finance?
Lydia: Though I enjoyed accounting in high school because I loved working with numbers, I majored in economics during my undergraduate degree. I really enjoyed microeconomics and topics related to business strategy, so I decided to get my MBA. I started my career working at Nortel on a small 8 person internal corporate venturing team, working closely with engineers who had innovative ideas. We built a process to receive and analyze technology ideas and if we thought we could turn an idea into a viable business, we’d provide the group with seed money of up to $5M to help build their plan and incubate the team. I really enjoyed working on business plans and providing support to these new ventures by cutting down the bureaucracy within Nortel while leveraging the resources of a large company. I liked the environment so much I went on to work at a series of large public technology companies such as Blackberry, Cognos, and Bell Canada, in planning and corporate development areas, even spending some time working at Royal Canadian Mint where I literally counted gold bars!
After building extensive experience working with many teams in enormous companies, I decided I wanted to go back to where I started and help a venture or small business grow. Thus, I attended a tech fair and saw a booth that was giving out these crazy hats. That booth, of course, belonged to Big Viking Games.
Q: Is that what made you decide to apply to Big Viking Games?
Lydia: Though the fair was meant to recruit developers, I felt strongly that small ventures needed in-depth planning and analysis earlier than they think, which is why I went and passed out my resume. I also felt that my knowledge of operations and processes in successful companies would be valuable to smaller companies trying to grow. Luckily the representative I spoke with felt the same way and I joined the company shortly after.
Q: What kind of new expertise have you gained at BVG?
Lydia: The experience has been unlike my past at public companies where the processes are very different, or where they have built out their processes and protocols. Joining a smaller company has allowed me to see my impact in a more pronounced way. The atmosphere is a lot more personal and you can see your ideas and contributions affect the business and its decisions more quickly.
“… Working at BVG has opened my eyes to consumer spending habits on things which aren’t needed, and what drives them.”
Q: What kind of challenges do you face on a day-to-day basis?
Lydia: Working in a young company is like the wild west: little towns separated by vast geographies of untamed land. There are no processes and procedures, ready-made models or conventions and formally stated modes of operation, though, there was enough order and success for the company to reach its current state. You have to take initiative to introduce and build key infrastructure pillars, while also doing reporting, and anything else you can to help the company meet its performance targets. It is a challenge to introduce new concepts or tools into the workplace as it can be a culture change for many who are used to operating a certain way. Buy-in or participation from every area is required because every area either generates revenue or has to manage costs.
Q: What makes working in finance at Big Viking Games so different from your previous roles?
Lydia: I used to work at companies that made goods and services people needed and now I work at a company where people pay us for entertainment. It was strange to find out how committed fans are to our games and how much some of them spend. Though quite a mindshift, working at BVG has opened my eyes to consumer spending habits on things which aren’t needed, and what drives them.
Q: Are there any challenges unique to your role at Big Viking Games being the smallest company from your previous experiences?
Lydia: Instead of being in a space where the structure is set, I have a role where I do whatever it takes if something is needed. Myself and the rest of the finance team are always on our feet, ready to tackle any problem.
“… We are in an exciting time with a fantastic team and the BVG path is an extraordinary opportunity of which to be a part.”
Q: What do you find the most rewarding about your role at BVG?
Lydia: It’s very rewarding working with different people across the entire company. The people at BVG are great and there’s a feeling of camaraderie. I like to think that my work helps them get the resources or understanding they need to perform their roles. When I saw our recent Piggybank trailer, I was very happy to see the team smashing the pigs because I remember the day James walked up and said he needed budget for an idea.
Q: Now that you’re in this industry, and you spend your days working with in finance at a games company, has your opinion shifted about games and their value in people’s lives?
Lydia: Absolutely! Since joining, I play mobile games more often and now see them differently knowing that a lot of thought goes into the details of these products. Working with the teams has given me insight into all the complex considerations in how games are made and the people behind the development. I believe we are in an exciting time with a fantastic team and the BVG path is an extraordinary opportunity of which to be a part.
If you’re interested in starting a career in the gaming industry as part of our Viking horde, visit the Big Viking Games Careers page to see our current openings. If you have questions of your own about the gaming industry or how to make your start, tweet them to us @bigvikinggames.