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Building An Overseas Finance Team- Interview with Brooke Manuel, VP Finance & Accounting

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At DCX, only 5% of our 20-person Finance Team is in the US. That 5% is Brooke Manuel, VP of Finance and Accounting.

 

Brooke has been able to build a global team with 19 employees in the Philippines that continues to blow us away with what they can achieve. They do the stuff that keeps the business moving, the big things that keep us compliant and on track as a global company, and they do strategic, big-picture things. 

 

We interviewed Brooke so you can learn more about how she successfully built this team. Check it out. 👇

1. When did you start building out the DCX Finance Team and what roles did you start with? 

When I first started, we recognized the importance of having specialists for key finance functions like accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR), and payroll. Leadership was also a priority from the outset.

 

Initially, our wonderful employee in the Philippines, Nelson, was the sole member of the team. At first, we were in survival mode - we had to rapidly document processes and procedures, while also hiring additional staff. The result was us building our team from 1-15 in a little over a year, we did it slowly but very intentionally and grew with the company.

 

2. How did you decide which roles were needed and what skills in particular were you looking for? 

From the outset, I had a clear vision of needing dedicated specialists for each key functional area of accounting, with only a few people reporting to each person. With that goal in mind, I mapped out what my ideal accounting department would look like and used that as my blueprint for hiring.


One example that stands out is when I was looking for someone to focus specifically on US accounting and tax compliance. I found a candidate who didn't have direct experience in that domain, but what mattered most was their eagerness to learn and willingness to take on the challenge. 

 

3. How long did it take to get your first team members onboarded? 

As we brought new accounting team members on board, it was a process of developing workflows and procedures together. The average onboarding period was around a month and that allowed for a productive back-and-forth. Employees provided fresh ideas that helped refine how we operated and helped define their own roles.

 

What made it work so well was the inherently transferable nature of accounting practices between the US and the Philippines. Since accounting follows standardized, repeatable processes, the core knowledge translated seamlessly across borders.

Our latest hire, Lea, exemplifies our ability to onboard specialists now that the existing team is well-positioned. Lea's expertise lies in forecasting, advanced planning, and budgeting.

 

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4. How have you continued to build the team since then? What roles have you added? 

We've expanded both horizontally and vertically while examining the organizational chart. Our primary focus has been on enhancing vertical structures, reinforcing layers of management and review. This year, we introduced a new senior financial planning analyst position. Strategic roles like this are only introduced once the department has achieved maturity in its day-to-day operations. Over the past year, we've deepened our team and refined roles and processes for greater clarity and in preparation for future growth.

 

 5. What processes have you put in place to support the team's development? 

We initiated discussions within the team to understand their learning goals and areas of specialization. For instance, Ynna was handling both Accounts Payable (AP) and Payroll duties. Recognizing the need for dedicated roles, we separated these responsibilities. Ynna opted to focus on Payroll, creating an opportunity to hire specifically for AP. 

 

While there is lots of cross-training, Charm has taken the lead in identifying additional training needs and crafting a comprehensive training plan to support ongoing education and skill development. Moreover, many team members are required to stay current with certifications such as CPAs, necessitating continuous professional development.

 

With a growth mindset, our team is dedicated to enhancing skills and knowledge across our whole department.

 

6. What do you value the most about working with outsourced accounting and finance talent? 

First of all, they are all great and talented, but unlike hiring generalists, as is common in the U.S., we can recruit subject matter experts for specialized roles. Also, finding top accounting talent can be challenging in the U.S. Our team prioritizes building depth in focused areas rather than having overlapping responsibilities. We have dedicated professionals for each domain, creating clear ownership and accountability. So that when issues arise, we know exactly who to consult. 

 

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