Like any true Crab, Yen loves the great outdoors. From her earliest days, she always sought adventures outside the classroom, whether mingling with friends at the mall or joining the lively crew of neighbourhood kids.
Reaching adolescence, she set her sights on distant shores. Experiencing unfamiliar landscapes, encountering diverse faces, and enjoying the richness of local cuisines were all crab-nip to her.
But as she puts it, deep down inside herself, the notion of calling a place far from home "home" is an open question waiting to be answered.
So, where has home been for her over the years? Where does she live now? And in what areas of work does she always feel right at home, wherever she is?!
Yen and her family in Switzerland
One thing is for sure, numbers really matter to Yen. And that’s hardly surprising, as her close-knit, multigenerational family back in Vietnam adds up to about 30 family members. They’re a constant source of support, tough, but always ready to listen to Yen and hear about her passions and needs.
While they loved her being close at hand, they knew that heading out (and moving sideways) was always her dream. In particular, an uncle (who she sees as a father figure) asked her around six years ago: “Aren’t you going to pursue your dream of exploring Europe?”
It wasn’t an easy consideration as she already had a stable job plus friends and her extended family in Vietnam, but Yen knew it was time to shed her old shell and scuttle towards new horizons.
That’s how she ended up in Berlin around five years ago, which is where she remains to this day.
Yen playing Jenga at the Berlin summer party
From BI tools to Excel, Yen’s professional life has always revolved around numbers. Her career at HSBC Vietnam spanned various teams, including Customer Due Diligence and Financial Crime Compliance. Yen’s keen eye for detail and enthusiasm for problem solving led her to pursue a Master’s in International Business. In the course of that, she was first introduced to the Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) function, initially gaining exposure through a student position in the FP&A team at Contentful, later working full-time at Wire as Financial Analyst.
Yen wasn’t actively looking to make a move when Hanna Peltokorpi, our Senior Talent Acquisition Partner reached out to her on LinkedIn. What particularly caught her attention was the article Hanna attached about Aiven securing a series C extension with a $2 billion valuation to drive global open search innovation.
At that time, Yen was in the final stages of the Series C due diligence process at her current company. Recognizing the complexity and challenges of the process, the impressive funding and valuation Aiven had obtained really caught her eye. Aiven was a larger sea to swim in – and its rapid growth presented both opportunities and challenges. She decided she could push her limits while contributing to Aiven’s ongoing success.
Yen at the Crab Week 2023
Since joining Aiven in early 2022, the workforce has doubled. The way her team works has seen major changes too. A new financial planning tool is taking over from the former spreadsheet-based solution, which means collaborative model building and much else. Transitioning to a quarterly planning cycle is also underway.
Another current project is the Gross Margin by Customer and Service Dashboard, a collaborative effort involving multiple teams, including Data Analytics, FP&A, and Engineering. The development journey has been long but rewarding, and a pilot dashboard is now set for release.
But alongside big innovations like these, some things remain constant. Yen continues to provide timely and accurate reporting and analysis, plus actionable insights. By translating numerical data into qualitative analysis, she empowers the organization to make better informed decisions, mitigate risk, and optimize performance.
To deliver all this means Yen has a hectic schedule. To stay on top, she creates daily to-do lists, which typically evolve during the course of the day due to the many competing demands faced by the FP&A team. She also carves out specific focus hours in her day. During these dedicated periods, she aims to minimize interruptions and delve into productive financial analysis work.
While foundational financial flair is obviously crucial to any role in finance, Yen highlights three essential skills that any would-be Crab should get their claws into.
First, priority management with consistency in scheduling and expectations. Deadlines are a constant presence in financial analysis, so prioritization of time and effort is essential.
Next is communication. That involves answering questions daily and updating progress across multiple communication channels, as well as delivering key insights and presenting analyses, often to people from different departments. Asking questions and listening objectively are all part of the challenge.
Thirdly, there’s curiosity, whatever the situation and whatever the project. Always ask the right questions to understand why things have been done that way and to figure out if there is a better solution. Planning and analysis require complex problem-solving skills. You need to be naturally curious – and to think sideways, of course.
Plus, as with any Crab, showing openness, courage, and ownership are all part of the remit. Yen particularly values courage. For her, that means testing new approaches and taking evaluated actions. Be prepared to fail – but fail fast, learn faster, and keep moving forward.
Our thanks go to Yen for sharing her story!
Interested in joining the Cast? Check out our open positions. And keep your eyes peeled (sideways) on the blog as we continue to meet more of our clawsome Crabs.
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