Glen Parrillo is the Corporate Controller for AccuWeather, Inc., the world’s largest and fastest growing weather media company. Parrillo joined AccuWeather in 2013, and during his tenure, the company has successfully acquired three businesses, opened operations in Montreal, Korea, Japan, India, and China, and launched the new AccuWeather Network on Verizon FiOS.
We sat down with him.
How did you get started in finance?
My destiny was set at an early age when I took my first accounting class in high school as a junior. I would not call it love at first sight, but it seemed natural and easy to understand. I also dabbled in computers early on with some of the original computer software programming languages like COBOL. That financial knowledge, along with a blend of understanding the underlying systems, gave me a unique perspective on accounting.
From there, I had a natural instinct to look at systems and how they provide output. Once out of college and after my stint with the Big 4, I started working with very entrepreneurial companies to launch or redesign businesses, redefine business plans, improve systems and technology, and optimize the financial reporting structure.
What unique challenges have you faced within your industry/in your current role/current company?
AccuWeather is over 50 years old. I have been here for the last 30 months, so there is a lot of history to understand and appreciate. It is an amazing business that has transformed itself multiple times since its inception in the early 1960s. We are again in another transition phase as the company has grown exceptionally well over the last 4 years. Changing the internal structure to match our growth is a constant challenge.
The analogy I frequently use is changing the tires on a car while it is moving. There is not really another AccuWeather out there, so there is no established blueprint. We have to do a lot of quick thinking and adjusting on the fly.
To what extent have you seen the finance function further integrate with other areas of the business in recent years?
The Line of Business Managers need better and more accurate information to run their business. The demands they have to operate successfully are intense. In many ways, the information is new and raw. Consequently, the finance function has had to transform the way we do business as we have to constantly look at inputs and outputs. We constantly face daily challenges regarding analysis of new and uncharted information. In the past, we could rely on history and trends to tell us where we were going and how we could manage this business.
That is no longer the case. We have to constantly interpret market analysis, financial data, traffic patterns, and other critical metrics in order to advance in a complex marketplace. In Finance, our customers are our business leaders. We listen to what they need, and we work very hard to generate the output that will help them navigate in the marketplace.
What will you be discussing in your presentation?
I will discuss a topic that is near and dear to my heart: Do all of us as controllers or financial executives truly know our accounting systems? I will provide more of a case study of what we have done at AccuWeather to redefine our accounting system – starting with our understanding of our inputs and outputs.
This story will include what we have done during my time at AccuWeather to overhaul an antiquated system and to bridge it back to the future.