A Balancing Act at Intel

Bernie Kim wanted a challenging mix of work and life after getting his MBA. Here's how he found it in operations finance

After graduating from Boston University School of Management in May, 2004, I weighed several factors before deciding on a job. In addition to seeking a position in as a financial analyst with a growing company, I wanted a balance between work and life.

My job at Intel in operations finance offers all of that and more. Typically, I work 45 to 50 hours a week as a senior product line analyst (PLA) for Intel's Enterprise Platforms & Services Division, which designs and builds server boards and systems building blocks for customers.

I'm responsible for a line of products consisting of five specialized server systems targeted at telecom companies. Although these systems cost more to build than Intel's standard systems, they also bring higher profit margins.

As a PLA, I'm essentially a CFO for the product line. My responsibilities include: looking for ways to expand the business and reduce costs; performing financial analysis to determine whether to invest in research & development for a product; working closely with marketing and field sales to identify new opportunities for follow-up products; establishing costs and prices; and influencing management financial decisions.

Operations finance is different from corporate finance. The most important distinctions are that my job doesn't include raising and investing capital. Nevertheless, an MBA grad with a concentration in finance and some marketing courses should have the background to do my job.

Here's a typical day:

7:25 a.m.: I'm in my car, reverse commuting to Hillsboro, a suburb of Portland, Ore., and listening to the radio and catching up on the day's market and headlines.

8:00 a.m.: Arrive at my desk. I check and respond to urgent e-mails and voicemails and prepare a to-do-list for the day.

9:00 a.m.: The first conference call is with one of the product development teams. This is a weekly scheduled meeting where we go over milestones, project status and progress, schedules and deliverables, and risks and issues for one of the products I handle. My role is to provide the team with cost and financial updates, so I can understand the financial impact should issues arise.

10:00 a.m.: Another conference call, this one to address an opportunity to customize one of our existing products for a new customer who's interested in a large-volume deal. We'll hold a regular weekly meeting until all issues have been resolved, a process that can take weeks. My role is to analyze cost and pricing issues and to determine whether it makes sense financially to proceed with the deal.

11:00 a.m.: Update costs and prices of our products for the Price Book. The Price Book is essentially the master copy of the prices of the products we sell. Also, since the quarter is coming to a close, I need to start putting together the Profit & Loss Statement for our product line.

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