FP&A Today Episode 18, What Gen Z Wants in FP&A

What does Generation Z Want from FP&A?

Between them, college students Gabriel Valentin Navarro, Charlee Wambolt, and Derek Baker secured FP&A and finance internships at companies as diverse as Credit Suisse, Clark Construction, Amex, Expedia, Regeneron, and SavviLegal. In this special episode we explore the experiences of a Gen Z cohort experiencing work in FP&A for the first time. 

In this special episode we meet guests:

  • Gabriel Valentin Navarro , Intern at American Express (University of Washington)
  • Charlee Wambolt, Intern at Credit Suisse (Brigham Young University)
  • Derek Baker, Financial Analyst at Clientbook (Brigham Young University)

They reveal:

  • How to get an internship in FP&A and is it necessary?
  • The best advice for people seeking their first FP&A role?
  • Skills and tactics to maximize your internship experience?
  • How to take ownership of your internship experience?
  • What employers need to know about the approach of Gen Z in finance, and where employers¬† are failing.
  • The university classes which most prepared them for a career in finance
  • The values that Gen Z is looking for in their next finance role?¬†
  • Their biggest advice and takeaways for other college students taking their first steps towards internships and jobs?
  • Their favorite Excel function of the next generation!

Paul Barnhurst:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to FP&A Today I’m your host, Paul Barnhurst, aka the FP&A Guy, and you are listening to FP&A Today. FP&A Today is brought to you by Datarails, the financial planning and analysis platform for Excel users. Every week we welcome leaders from the world of financial planning and analysis and discuss some of the biggest stories and challenges in the world of FP&A. We’ll provide you with actionable advice about finance, financial planning, and analysis. This is going to be your go-to resource for everything FP&A. Today I’m thrilled to welcome three guests to the show. Today we have Derek, Gabriel and Charlee with us. So thank you for being on the show guys. Thanks

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

It’s a pleasure.

Paul Barnhurst:

Yeah, no, I’m really excited. So today’s episode is going to be about internships. All three of our guests are in college. We have Gabrielle who is at The University of Washington. He’s doing a summer internship with American Express going into his junior year. We have Derek who just accepted a job with ClientBook .

Derek Baker:

Yep.

Paul Barnhurst:

Just recently. And he graduates in December. And then we have Charlee Wambolt with us. She’s doing an internship with Credit Suisse in New York in investment banking and Derek and Charlie go to my alma mater BYU. That’s where I did my undergrad. And as I mentioned, Gabriel is at the University of Washington. So maybe I wanna give each of you just a minute to introduce yourself, tell a little bit about yourself and we’ll start with you, Gabriel, if you can just give us a little bit of an introduction a little bit about your background.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Absolutely. So my name is Gabriel Valentin Navarro , and I’m from Washington state. I was born and raised in Eastern Washington. But now I go to the school at the university of Washington in Seattle in Western Washington. And I recently accepted the internship and came to New York city to work at American Express within global commercial services, working on accounts payable, automation, for the summer. And when I returned to school, I’ll be an incoming junior, uh, at the Foster school of business.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. And you know, interesting story is his VP that he works for is a good friend of mine. And I worked for him at American Express. So it’s a small world. That’s how we, uh, ended up being on the show. I reached out to his VP and he said, oh yeah, I have an intern. I’m like, great. Would you be interested? So small world Derek, if you could go ahead and just give an introduction.

Derek Baker:

Sure. My name’s Derek Baker. I grew up in Houston, Texas, but I go to school at BYU, which is in Utah. Uh, I study finance there. And as you mentioned, I just recently accepted a full-time offer at ClientBook. They’re a high growth tech startup in Lehigh, Utah, uh, and I’m their first finance hire there. So that’s been a really fun experience. I manage all of their investor reporting, financial modeling, forecasting, budgeting, all those things and report to the CEO on all the finance processes,

Paul Barnhurst:

Do a little bit of everything.

Derek Baker:

Right. Wear a lot of hats.

Paul Barnhurst:

That’s very true of small companies. Charlee. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah. Happy to. So, um, I go to BYU. I am a rising senior. So this summer I’ve been interning at Credit Suisse in New York on their media and telecom team doing investment banking. And yeah, I mean, I met Derek, which is how I was introduced to the podcast because Derek and I had a couple of classes together this past semester. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so definitely a small world in the BYU finance community, for sure.

Paul Barnhurst:

No. Yeah. It’s amazing how small it is in, in college and classes and just in general, small world. So thank each of you for that introduction. So maybe on this question, we’ll start with you, Derek, could you talk a little bit about what made you choose finance as a major? You know, what do you like about finance?

Derek Baker:

Sure. You know, I actually don’t really have a strong reason why I chose finance. I just, I went to BYU and I took a few business classes and I really liked my accounting and finance classes. And so I was deciding between accounting or finance after my freshman year and ultimately decided on finance because I really liked how finance was strategic. It’s very forward looking. It’s all about planning for the future and being prepared for different scenarios in the future that help the company to grow and reach their goals. Whereas accounting’s a little bit more backwards looking about reporting. And that just wasn’t as interesting to me. So why I chose finance is simply because I really like the strategy behind finance and the impact that it has on organization.

Paul Barnhurst:

Those are great answers and those are some of the things I love about finance and about FP&A. I didn’t do finance until I was an MBA student. So undergrad, I did entrepreneurship actually. So Charlee, can you talk a little bit about what made you choose finance?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, for sure. So, it actually, I think dates a little bit back to when I was in high school, I did speech and debate and it kind of got me like thinking about just what jobs I’d be interested in from a pretty young age. And I went to nationals as a sophomore and junior and in my junior year I was introduced to McKinsey, the consulting firm at that debate tournament. And I was very intrigued and the people who were representing McKinsey, they were very nice and they were like, we love debaters. We found that like a lot of your skills translate well to consulting, you should like to consider consulting. And I also talked about travel and stuff like that. And I found myself extremely intrigued. And so I came into college and BYU where I was kind of planning on going anyways.

Charlee Wambolt:

And I was like, okay, like consulting, like how do I pursue consulting? And I then found that like finance was one common track to go into consulting. So I kind of found myself choosing between strategy and finance and like, I’ve also been a little bit more of a math nerd. I appreciated a little bit more of the like technical side of things. And so I just decided, you know, finance could give me a more technical approach to consulting. And so that’s how I got involved in finance. And then you know, people mention a lot of things in passing together and a lot of people, when they heard that I was interested in consulting, they would comment on the work life balance or something along those lines. And they’d be like the only thing worse than consulting is investment banking or like mentioned some other like comment under their breath. And I was like, wait, like what’s investment banking? And so then I, then I appreciated that finance gave me the optionality that I was looking for to potentially pursue consulting, but pursue a bunch of other options as well. Should I change my interests over time, which I have already. So,

Paul Barnhurst:

And, and what, as I say, you know, she loves finance when she uses the term optionality. That’s what I’ve noticed. You’re the second one who I did a podcast earlier this week is someone used that same term in, in finance. So that’s when you know, they’re a finance person.

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, absolutely

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. I love that. So Gabriela, if you wanna go ahead and go. Yeah.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

I would say I’ve always seen finance as something that’s very important when I was younger and in school, I was very heavily involved in things like student government civic engagement, all of those things. And I realized that business has a lot of influence and control and power, um, within government. And so I saw that I should really study business to be able to see how government interacts with business, how the economy works, you know, how our society is controlled and operated. And I see finance kind of as like the plumbing or like kind of the mechanics of the systems that we operate in every day. And I think it’s oftentimes overlooked, but like finance, just like economics, I thought about studying economics actually and getting into economics. But I saw that finance, I think, is definitely kind of a deeper dive or a more specific, a more specific kind of way of looking at things and doing things.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

And it’s, it’s really important because like, you know, financing touches everything, you know, in our economy, whatever industry you work in, there’s always financing in the background, making that industry happen, making that business open or run, or those transactions or business or anything happens. So I think finance is really core to anything. And so I knew, I just had to understand, I knew I had to study it and pursue it and get experience in it to be able to have a foundation within business. And for my future and with, I wanna change my path or my career or anything. I know that I have those like basic and really important fundamentals down.

Paul Barnhurst:

No, that’s great. And I, I can understand kind of each one of you, what you said makes a lot of sense and finance, you know, it’s strategic in a lot of ways. It’s, you know, FP&A and a in particularly are an internal consultant investment banking. You’re doing a lot of consulting, right? There’s a lot of strategy it’s about so much more than the numbers. And it’s really great that you guys, you know, realize that as you’re in it. Cause I think some people just think, well, I like numbers and that’s what finance is about. So I’ll do it. And really, yes, numbers are a big part of it, but there’s so much more that goes on. So we’re going to go ahead and start this question here with, uh, we’ll go ahead and go to Derek, Derek. I know you’ve had a few different internships during your college experience, as you mentioned, you recently took a full-time job here. Congratulations again, on that. Hey, can you talk a little bit about your internship experiences and what was it particularly that interested you in, you know, financial planning, why, you know, what made you choose that as you did your internships and where you’re at now?

Derek Baker:

Yeah, I, uh, I kind of stumbled upon FP&A by accident. Um, when I was in my freshman year, I just started applying to any internship I could find. And my first internship was at a tech company in Utah called Savvi Legal. And I started off as like a pretty entry level role. I was doing billing support, helping with billing processes and things like that. But quickly I moved into more of a strategic finance role there because it was a big need. No one was forecasting or budgeting in the startup. I mean they were, they had a meaningful amount of revenue and expenses and they weren’t, they weren’t profitable. And so they really needed to have some insight in the runway. And so within like the first six months of working there I started making my first financial models for them and loved it.

Derek Baker:

I like it was really impactful. The leadership of that company. It meant a lot to them to know what their runway was. It helped them to plan their future fundraisers. It also helped them to perform higher in the business, increase their sales growth and also decrease their burn rate when they had insight into these things. And so that was like my first experience with FP&A that really made me want to continue doing that. And I continued to work with Savvi throughout my entire time at college so far. But I would leave every summer to go do an internship somewhere else. So my second internship was at a company called InGeneron and they were a biotech startup based out of Germany, but they had a Houston office. And that was a really cool experience because I got to work with the CFO and the CFO was ex investment banking.

He had his investment banking and had done a lot of FP&A afterwards and then became the CFO of this company and got a really technical experience there. I was helping him every day with the forecasting budgeting process. I learned how to use power BI to aggregate all of our financial reports and our forecast to visualize those financial models. And it was just a great experience all around to see the full cycle of what an FP&A or finance function should look like. So I took that back to Savvi and I kind of took a lot of those learnings and applied them in Savvi and, you know, kind of tried to model our financial operations at Savvi based on what, what the CFO of in Regeneron did. Um, then after that, which was now we’re at last summer in 2021, I took an internship in the FP&A group at Clark Construction.

Derek Baker:

It’s a really large construction company based out of Washington DC. And that was a cool experience. I learned a lot there as well, and I got to apply a lot of my technical skills. Um, construction’s not known for being like a super tech forward industry. So understanding basic things like power BI and data, data governance and data management, things like that, um, made a big impact there. So it was a really cool experience, but I ultimately realized that working at a big company isn’t for me, I like having a lot of ownership and responsibility. I like knowing everything that’s going on in a business and you just don’t get that as much in a, in a large company. And so I came back and I started working with startups. Again, I eventually started a little, a little startup. It was like a finance tool for startups and won’t go into too much detail here, because Datarails will censor me, but uh but it was a cool experience. One of my first customers was ClientBook and although that startup ultimately failed ClientBook became my, my employer now. So they really liked the work that I did for them. I did a lot of consulting for them on their finance processes. And after that startup failed, I took a full-time job with them and that’s where I’m at today.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. Now, thanks for sharing that experience. And I know we’ve talked a little bit about that and some of your experience, you know, done lunch and some things, and I think you’ve had a lot of great experience there. So thank you for sharing that. Uh, Gabrielle, could you talk a little bit about how you, you know, how you found your inter internship, what interested you in American Express and just how your experience has been this summer?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Yeah. So this is actually my second internship. Um, my first internship was at Expedia in Seattle, and I found that on Handshake, which is similar to, you know, like LinkedIn it’s just for colleges and universities. And um, so this year I took the same approach and I was like, well, it worked for me last time, applying on Handshake. So I applied on Handshake again this past fall, um, for a bunch of internships and this, this one specifically American Express really stood out to me because I kind of saw like the way the company was structured and the way their departments or business units as they call them were laid out. And I really liked what was going on there, like the titles and the functions and, and stuff like that. And so when I applied, I was very like hopeful and I was really excited and grateful to get the internship offer.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Um, but it’s been growing great. Yeah, definitely. I think there’s so much that I’ve learned coming out to New York city. It’s I mean, like just number one, like a big culture shock from the west coast, um, and moving into the city and like, I feel like as an intern, I mean, I feel like I look much older. I don’t look like a very like young person or an intern, so I feel like any other worker in the office building. So I definitely feel like I’m almost working there full time or something. So I feel like I’m getting the real experience. It’s really been great.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. And what, can you talk a little bit about maybe what they have you doing or what you’ve learned kind of from your projects?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Absolutely. So this summer, my project is on accounts payable, automation. So I’m working on automating accounts payable and most of all I think the biggest thing about the project is we’re conducting a profitability analysis. So we’re analyzing how profitable this project is, accounts payable, automation. I think what’s been the biggest surprise to me is thinking and knowing and realizing that companies have been still using paper. Like, I mean, like it’s like 2022. And I think, I think everyone’s using computers and phones and software and technology. Like, no, there’s still people writing checks, printing checks, cashing checks. It’s a, it’s a very like outdated process. And the fact that it’s so prevalent is what shocking to me. I thought it was already automated. No, like, so I guess coming into it, it’s like, I feel kind of like I’m pioneering or I’m a pioneer.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

This project is very pioneering and that, you know, we’re finally actually, um, becoming high tech and moving away from pre bid and, and going into the future, something I thought already happened, but I guess is not. And so that’s what I’ve been working on this summer is doing that profitability analysis on how that project is going since it’s only a few years old, but the growth rate has been like tremendous. Like when it first started, American Express would offer this it’s a software as a service. So they would offer the software to the merchants. They already work with to process their accounts payable systems through them. And at first it wasn’t, it was very, very small, but now it’s grown like 10 times in the span of a couple years. So the project is very important in the company.

Paul Barnhurst:

Sure. No, that, that is great. And it’s great. You’re getting visibility. And, you know, as you mentioned the technical of things not being digital, right? I mean, I think you, we, we talk about, I, all of you are gen Z and you know, one of the things is people talk about is really it’s the first generation, that’s all digitally native. You know, when I grew up I didn’t have a computer till I was, was either junior high. I think freshman year of high school, you know, I was about 14 and didn’t even, you know, the internet didn’t come about till I went to college. There were some bulletin boards. I’d dial up on my phone, you know, it was 2,400 was called the speed and you’d wait five minutes and you’d hear the ring tones for it to log on to the internet. So yeah, I’ll date myself a little bit very different from the world you guys have grown up in and that my daughter grows up in. So, but along those lines, Charlee, can you talk a little bit about your internship? I know you’re doing an internship right now. You’re just kind of wrapping up here in the next couple weeks with Credit Suisse and investment banking. So maybe talk a little bit about that experience and kind of how you found it and how you’ve liked it.

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, absolutely. So, um, you know, BYU, I think similar to a lot of colleges has some pretty prevalent business societies. So considering that I was like interested in consulting and investment banking both of those I knew were kind of difficult to recruit into. So I got fairly involved in the relevant business societies at BYU. So for consulting, that was like the business strategy society. And then for investment banking that fell under the finance society. Abd they have like specifically an investment banking association that would like have weekly meetings, meet with students to like help with like resume prep and also just like gathering information about the recruiting process and technical skills that you might need to know and have an understanding of. So I got like pretty involved with them fairly early on, but was also like had my hands in a variety of places and was looking at like different options along the way.

Charlee Wambolt:

But I think they really helped me realize the importance of getting internship experience early and so similar to Derek while I was in college, I took on a variety of different like internships and externships. And so I worked with a couple of venture capital firms. I did an externship with Battery Ventures firs doing like sourcing, like deal sourcing for them which was a lot of like research and I really appreciated that And then I switched to the University Growth Fund, which is a student-run venture capital, uh, firm based in salt lake city, Utah. And I really, really enjoyed that experience. And that’s where I got a little bit more exposure to financial modeling and also, um, like making projections for companies and still kept like a lot of the strategy things involved as well. But I think those two experiences along with working at a like tech company, just doing sales, in Utah called Clozd, which was like a startup and gave me some of that like startup exposure as well.

Charlee Wambolt:

Those three things gave me a lot of really good experience on my resume. And so then I took that experience and did a round of investment banking, recruiting and, um, credit Suisse is kind of like where I ended up. But one of the, one of the things that I really appreciated about credit Suisse and the recruiting process was that they recruited you to be part of their incoming analyst class first and then part like part of a specific team. And so like I got the investment making offer but then I had another six months. So I got that offer about a year before I started. And so then in February we had our official like team placement weekend and that me like recruit specifically for the media and telecom team, which I might have not otherwise had connections to get into. And so that’s kind of how I ended up with the internship that I have now.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. Now thank you for sharing. And I think, you know, that’s one thing I can say. I didn’t do an internship in undergrad. I did one in grad school and that was one of my regrets. I kind of worked every summer, just different things to raise money, but didn’t do a real kind of formal internship. So I think that’s great that you’re all doing them that’s one of the biggest things I recommend to people when they ask me kind of for advice in college. So speaking of that, we’re going to start with you Charlee, what advice would you offer to, you know, incoming students as they’re looking for an internship? What advice would you give?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, I mean, I, I would definitely second what you said earlier about getting involved in internship, like specifically internship experience and it doesn’t have to be formal. But any opportunity that you have to work with a specific company, be that through a class or be that through like working with them? Um, I think just getting that like real world exposure goes a super long way. And that’s advice that was given to me before I entered college and it really helped me out. And then I think that the other piece of advice that I would, um, maybe offer out myself is just be yourself. Like if you’re interested in something, go for it. And if you’re not interested, don’t go for it. I have absolutely loved my life this summer. And I, I think a lot of that joy has come from the fact that the companies that I’m working with are media and telecom companies.

Charlee Wambolt:

And I like absolutely love media and telecom companies. But that’s something I think is pretty unique. I mean, a lot of my, um, fellow students at BYU when we were recruiting, I felt like a lot of them would go into tech or they would go into maybe like industrial something that stood out to them for like one reason or another. And I think even if that comes to like whether or not to choose finance in the first place, like, I think you can bring so much more to your job when it’s something that you’re passionate about or that you enjoy. And so just make sure that it’s an area that you actually want to show up for. Because I think that’ll make a difference in ways that you can’t even predict

Paul Barnhurst:

That that is really good advice. I mean, at the end of the day, we all, we all have to work for money, but if you choose your profession just based on money, you’re not going to be your best. You’re not going to do your best. You want to enjoy it. There needs to be some kind of intrinsic motivation and something that you enjoy doing. Otherwise it can be rough, because we all have days. We don’t wanna be at work. That’s just life, but you wanna at least most of the time enjoy it versus being miserable every day. And I’ve seen people in that situation. So I appreciate that of make sure it’s something you wanna do be yourself and, you know, take advantage of those opportunities. So Gabriel, what advice would you offer to students looking to do an internship?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

I would say like try, try again. Like perseverance is the most important thing because I can go on and on about all the applications I’ve, you know, done and sent in and obviously not everyone is successful, but had I like stopped at the application before, who knows? Maybe I would’ve never done an internship, you know? Right. So it’s always, always applying, trying again and again. Perseverance is the most important thing. It’s interesting because I’m actually a peer coach at my, uh, business school’s career center. So I help other students find internships and I’m like very passionate about that. I’m very happy that I’m doing that. I’ll be doing that until I graduate. And that’s something one, one big thing that I always say is like any experience is experience like never like downplay or look down upon your own experience and think, oh, that doesn’t count or that doesn’t matter.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

No, like, you know, you have to be your biggest cheerleader, your biggest fan, and you have to be like your biggest self advocate, most importantly, and showcase, you know, what you do have and, and recognize the skills you have, you know, and don’t, don’t discount yourself. You know, I think a lot of people kind of discourage themselves before anyone else has the chance to. And you should never do that. Um, so yeah, definitely perseverance number one. And number two, being your, your biggest self advocate and always, um, looking at yourself in the best light and really thinking like out of all the experiences that I have, how is this transferable? How is this applicable? How does this going to help me in my, uh, hopeful position? Right? So those two things I would say are the most important.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. Now that that’s great advice, Derek, anything you would add from your experience?

Derek Baker:

Yeah. I first off, I second, everything Charlie and Gabriel just said that’s great advice. And anything I say is probably going to be less important what they’ve already said. But I do wanna echo that any experience is experience. I mean, I, I was lucky enough to like get an internship really early on, but I know a lot of people who didn’t get internship experiences right away in college. And one of the ways I’ve seen other people overcome that is through being involved in school, get involved in your clubs, do case competitions. One of my favorite experiences at college was doing a case competition with a private equity firm called Sorenson Capital where we analyzed a fictitious deal that they were thinking about investing in and gave a pitch deck to their investment committee. I got networked with Sorenson Capital.

Derek Baker:

I won some money out of it because we got second place and it was a really good experience to put on a resume. So that’s one example of how you can get experience without actually getting an internship if you’re struggling to get one of those at that point. Those experiences like Gabriel mentioned, they can really help you with internships. The last thing I’ll mention, which this is the part that’s less important than everything else that’s been said is get technical. Every interview I’ve had has had a technical component to it. And the best interviews I’ve had are when I’ve actually like taught the interviewer something. So just an example I had an interview where the interviewer asked me if I knew how to do a VLOOKUP. And I said, yeah, sure. I know how to do a VLOOKUP, but I would never actually use V lookup.

Derek Baker:

I only use Index Match and like, oh, what’s index match?. And then I walked them through how index match works and why it’s better than the V lookup and things like that. Like they really do make a big difference in helping you stand out against other candidates, especially at this stage of our career where we’re just starting to get in. They don’t want to have to teach us a lot of things. They wanna know that we’re competent to do the technical side of things. And then all of the soft skills and the leadership experience kind of comes naturally as you move up in your career. So I would say get technical is a really important aspect of interviewing for finance jobs specifically.

Paul Barnhurst:

Thank you. A lot of great, great advice there. I appreciate each of ’em and you know, on the technical side, what I like to say is technical skills typically get you your first job. The soft skills are what get you promoted as you go through your career. So it’s really important. You start out with that technical foundation and that you can build from it. The other thing I would add, you know, kind of what always said is just take advantage of networking, something I didn’t do well in undergrad. You know, I didn’t do any internships. I struggled to get a job and I’ve learned now I really have, you know, built out my network and I’ve got job offers from that. I really learned in grad school, the importance of that. So I think it’s great that you’re taking advantage of that while you’re in undergrad. So moving on here, I have a question for you Charlee I know you chose investment banking versus, you know, the other two we have here, corporate finance kind of FP&A what, what exactly made you decide to go, you know, investment banking versus kind of the corporate finance route for an internship and as you’re kind of starting your career?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah. You know, um, I know we’ve talked about this a little bit offline, but I like, I’ve definitely kept my eyes open for FP&A. I have considered going into corporate finance in the past. I think like my dream company, I used to say I would be to like work for Disney and like to a certain extent, I think that that’s still true and that like, I mean, that speaks to the genuine interest that I have in the media and telecom space. But, um I definitely was very aware though, like Disney, for example, has a big FP&A team, a lot of companies do. Like, it’s very, it’s a very common path that students will go and I yeah. Was like very aware that it existed. But I think kind of speaking to like the word that I threw out earlier, um, I just appreciated the optionality that investment banking brought.

Charlee Wambolt:

Like I think that’s what attracted me to consulting as well when I was first talking with that McKinsey recruiter once upon a time. And that is just that I wanted to keep as many doors open for as long as possible as I could. And then be very intentional about the doors that I was closing when I was closing them. And I think that that’s something that investment banking has allowed me to do. I think that kind of similar to like the former or the CFO that Derek had, the prior experience of working with, like I, I would love to maybe go the like investment banking, FP&A, like CFO route, like who knows what my future could hold? But I just appreciated that, um, the experience that investment banking could give me to either stay in investment banking, move to venture capital and private equity, or potentially pursue a more corporate finance route down the road.

Paul Barnhurst:

No, that makes a lot of sense. And it really is. It opens a lot of doors. You get some great skills. You know, one of my favorite bosses came from the investment banking. He actually did engineering for undergrad, went back to grad school, did investment banking, you know, and then got into a lot of Corp dev, then moved into FP&A, and now he’s a CFO. So, you know, very much kind of what you’re talking about. He took, you know, very similar route outside of, you know, he started in engineering and then switched to finance with grad school. You know, I considered doing investment banking out of grad school, but I graduated in 2008. If you guys remember that time, that was not the time to be looking for a job in investment banking with no experience. So needless to say, nobody hired me go figure. Plus I wasn’t really at it. I didn’t plan on doing finance originally for grad school. And I was not at an investment banking school. So none of the banks came to our school as well, but that’s, that’s a separate story. And then I ended up in FP&A, and loved it. And it’s been great.

Paul Barnhurst:

You know what? It is like 13 different spreadsheets emailed out to 23 different budget holders, multiple iterations, version control, errors, back and forth updates. You never really feel in control of the consolidation and collection process. Yep. I’ve been there. Stop breathe.

Paul Barnhurst:

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Paul 

Um, next question here, you know, we ask about finding an internship, but once you get into an internship, we’re going to ask each of you, what’s a one piece of advice you would offer to students to be successful in an internship. So maybe we’ll start with Gabrielle on this question. If you could talk a little bit to that, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Absolutely kind of similar to what Charlee was saying earlier is like, you need to have that passion, right. And if you don’t have that passion, it’s like, you need to look for that passion because it’s probably already inside you. Right? You don’t just like log onto a computer and submit an application and do all these things like, you know, like a zombie know, like you were doing it with a purpose and maybe you might have forgotten or maybe, you know, there might have been some like roadblocks or like things like got in the way, but it’s always like seeking the best in your experience and looking for the things that motivate you, the things that excite you, the things that, you know, make you want to do what you’re doing. And so the best piece of advice I can give is always be kind of optimistic, always be very happy, very lively, very open to learn.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

I think that’s the biggest thing is when people see that you’re, you’re open to learning about different things. It makes them like more excited, more willing to talk to you, more willing to show you things. You know, that’s how, like, I think networking just naturally happens is when you’re open to learning about not just like different parts of a company or roles, but people’s like experiences in their journeys. And so I would say that is always be open to learning, talking to new people. Listening is the biggest thing. Right and that’s, that’s a really big way of gaining experiences is by listening to other people’s experiences.

Paul Barnhurst:

Thank you. That’s great. I appreciate that advice. How about you Charlee what’s the advice you’d offer?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah. I would say look for where you can add value. You know, sometimes your boss will have a very clear expectation for you. I think for me, like for my previous experiences like my work with Battery Ventures was an example of that. The partner that we were working or the VP that we were working with he had very clear expectations. It was a tough bar to meet. It was at the end of the day, like yes or no, like, did you like meet these expectations? Um, and yeah, it was all very like laid out and what they gave us was more than enough to keep you busy. But in other roles, I think that there have definitely been times , including like the internship that I’m at this summer, but also like other experiences as well where maybe there have been times where the expectations were a little bit less clear cut or like you’re working on it specific deal, like at the university growth fund and there’s a clear amount of work that needs done, but you have to figure out how to split that work between individuals so that everyone can be contributing and adding value.

Charlee Wambolt:

And I think that when you have a, um, like just understanding of or maybe creativity even around like how you can add value and you’re really seeking to like fill a role rather than just watching something get done and taking credit for it, I think that’ll make a very tangible impact on the, impact that you can have in an organization. Like, I think U Jeff’s a great example of that because there’s a lot of deals that I participated in that I could have sat back and watched happen, um, and then said like, oh, check. Like I got to like watch this deal happen. And I got to watch this deal happen, but it’s very different if you can say like, oh no, like I like helped do this and this and this and that helped the deal go through because of this and this and this. Um, and so yeah, I would say just like, be ready to look for where you can add value. Don’t expect your boss to take a ton of time out of there day to then break down, work exactly for you and then help you what to do. Like that’s an inconvenience for them. And it’s an inconvenience for you

Paul Barnhurst:

That is really good advice. I mean, internship first job throughout your career is looking to where you can add value because you know, your boss doesn’t wanna have to babysit you. Right. They want you to be, they, they brought you in as an intern for you to one to be able, it’s kind of a trial run, see if a person works right? But also usually they have a project or something they want you to help with and there’s value you can add. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the right mindset. So that’s really, really good advice. And we’ll go over to Derek. What would be the advice you’d offer?

Derek Baker:

Yeah. You know, this is actually the question I’ve thought the most about that you gave us in advance. Uh, cause I think it’s so important. Like once you get the internship you need to perform I think my advice is very similar to Charlie’s, but I would say take ownership of something. When you get into your internship, there’s going to be a pain point in your, in your team or in your department or that your boss has. And my best experiences in internships have been when I’ve taken ownership over that pain point and tried to solve a problem. And when I’ve, when I’ve done this, I’ve, I’ve tried to do this in every single internship and I’ve never had an internship that didn’t result in a return offer. And that’s usually the goal of any internship is to get a return offer whether or not you take it. And if you don’t take it well, you have a really awesome experience where you created impact on your team. Something tangible that you can talk about in a future interview that will help you a lot when you’re recruiting in the future. So just sort of recap, take ownership of something, even if it’s something as simple as refreshing a daily data set of comps, find something to take ownership and create value like, like Charlie said and your team.

Paul Barnhurst:

No, thank you. That’s great advice. And I think all three of you have given really good advice and it’s obvious that, you know, all three of you have been successful in your internships. I can tell from, you know, things you’ve shared and that you’ve talked about. And I think that’s great. So thank you for sharing that, you know, I, I would second all of what you guys said, so here’s shifting gears a little bit, you know, I know all of you are what we consider gen Z generation and you know, there’s a lot that’s talked about in the media about that and how gen Z is different and you know, being the first, you know, digitally native kind of workforce, right? You guys grew up with social media, grew up with smartphones. It’s a different era from when I grew up, you know, as was mentioning. So maybe just from starting, how do you guys think, you know, kind of, what do you think about when you hear the term gen Z? And do you feel like the generation is coming into the workforce different than prior generations? So maybe we’ll start here. We’ll go with Derek first on this question. If you could maybe talk a little bit to this one.

Derek Baker:

I do feel like gen Z’s different. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons why Gen Z’s different. We care a lot about values and purposes of a company and feeling like that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re not just here to make a paycheck. We’re here to make a difference in the world. And that’s like a big blanket statement. I mean, not every not everyone’s going to be just like that or find as much purpose in being part of a company that has a, a grand mission. But I think that is something that’s a general theme that I’ve seen across my gen Z peers is they want to feel like they’re a part, something bigger themselves. The other thing that you mentioned earlier in the podcast is that gen Z doesn’t like manual processes. And I actually think that’s a superpower.

Derek Baker:

That’s a superpower of gen Z. And I think that’s something that we all need to lean into and the employers need ton value highly is that we do not want to do manual stuff because we know it’s inefficient. We know it’s not a good use of our time. And we often have a lot of ideas to make things better and more efficient and automated. Just looking back at some of my internships, like in the construction industry, I’m really grateful that that company I worked for was willing to take my ideas and implement some of them because the FP&A team still uses some of the things I built for them to automate some of their reporting and things like that. And I still get messages from members of the FP&A team saying, wow, we just used this power BI report and it makes my life so much easier. So I think it’s something that companies and gen Z need to lean into. We don’t want to do manual work and it’s not because we’re lazy. It’s because we know there’s a better way. And we know that we can create more value if we offload some of these manual processes and automate.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great, I appreciate that. And I think, you know, there’s two things I took away there from that is one, just the importance of feeling like you’re making a difference is kind of a change in that you think from gen Z in general, to what we’ve seen in prior generations. And the second is a real focus on wanting to be able to automate, not have not tolerating manual processes, that there’s more frustration and less acceptance of that. Having grown up in a kind of digitally first you know, generation. So Gabriel, I’ll throw that question over to you when you kind of, you know, think about gen Z and the things you hear and what they say about the workplace. How do you think about that? And what do you think maybe different about your generation?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Oh my gosh. Gen Z is so different because like when I started my first internship last year, I was expecting, you know, to start in a corporate office, nine to five, Monday through Friday, everybody’s dressed up everybody’s there? No, like, you know, it was hybrid. So my first professional experience was in a hybrid setting. And so that was just very, very different from me growing up for almost 20 years and thinking how, you know, my career would look, I definitely did not expect that’s how my career would start. And that’s how the workplace would look like, but here we are, the workplace is going to be hybrid. I’m sure that’s what Gen Z wants. We love flexibility. We love to have that option because it’s something that’s like never been kind of a thing before. And now that we do have it as an option, whether or not some of us take it or not, I think it’s, it’s really important.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

And the fact that, you know, we wanna keep innovating, not just with like the workplace environment and the schedule, but also once again, going back to automation, very, very important, like I hate tedious work. And that’s one thing about finding that about finance that like I don’t like. And so anytime I, I encounter that, it’s like, how can I make this not tedious? How can I automate this? How can I find a better process to like save hours in my day, help my team, help the company, et cetera, et cetera, rather than being like, okay, I’m just going to plow through it. You know, it’s that reluctance to like do business as usual and do the same old, same old. And so I’m very proud of that. Um, just like Derek was saying that we wanna change things up in that space for sure.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

And I think lastly, something around like transparency, especially pay transparency. I think it’s very important that everyone talks about how much they’re making and kind of like the hierarchy promotions structures, because I think it, it really helps in equality. It helps closing the gaps just as much as we care about helping the world, we should care about like helping each other, you know, as workers. And that’s something I think that perhaps previous generations didn’t care about, like. But I hope that our generation truly takes to heart and cares about more is that it’s not about just like promoting and moving up a ladder, but you know, once you do move up, it’s like, how are you treating the people that you’re managing are they, do they feel like they’re being fairly compensated? Do you feel like you’re being fairly compensated? Like perhaps past generations once again or in the past, they didn’t really care about that or they were too afraid or they were not willing to discuss those things or think about those things.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

But I think our generation like Gen Z is definitely thinking about those things and I’m very, very glad, um, especially like the Great Resignation, right? Like everybody’s moving around, everyone’s finding new jobs because I think PI people are finally starting to realize that they have so much potential. They have so much value. And if an employer is not going to recognize that value, then they’re going to provide to, to someone else. And so I’m very proud of my generation for that. And hopefully we keep it going. And we just make things better for everyone in terms of conditions, um, the workplace and just standards.

Paul Barnhurst:

And thank you there. There’s great answer there. And I loved, you know, talking about making the workplace better for people. You know, you mentioned also the Great Resignation and I can definitely relate to that having left one job and then a second during that whole COVID period to start my own business, you know, at the beginning of this year. And so it’s, it’s really true. You see a lot of those things and some great stuff there. Charlee, what’s your thoughts on the question?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, I honestly think I would kind of follow in a similar direction as what Gabriel said, but maybe, um, take it a little bit of a step in a different direction like pay transparency. I think that there’s actually like an increased amount of transparency in a lot of things that has come from the digital native age. You know, I think that one of the great things about the internet is that it allows individuals to find communities that they might not otherwise find in their physical community. And I think that that’s led to much stronger communities around mental health awareness. I think it’s led to much stronger communities around a variety of illnesses be that physical or mental. And as well as like variety of interests and also, um, variety of life goals too. And so I think that that’s led to, um, you know, a lot of mental health awareness within companies, a lot of parental leave awareness within companies.

Charlee Wambolt:

And just other benefits that I think really put the lives of employees first. And you know, like to a certain extent, I think employers are becoming a lot better about recognizing that and taking those initiatives. But I also, I think that Gen Z individuals are a lot better about seeking out some of those initiatives for themselves. I think, mental health awareness is a huge thing. You know, like, um, your employer can have things available to you, but for an individual to go and seek out help that still has to be an individual decision. And I think that gen Z individuals are very willing to make that decision. I think a lot of people maybe already have, or did in high school, u or whatever, but I think that that’s, leading to a larger number of people who are really willing and ready to bring their best selves to the workplace, because they are taking care of themselves at home, um, before they show up.

Paul Barnhurst:

Thank you. And I, I love that you touched on mental health. That’s something I’m very passionate about. I’ve had, you know, a lot of family and friends that have dealt with mental health issues. I’m very open about it, because I think we need to remove that stigma. And so I’m really excited to hear that one of my favorite episodes I’ve done on FP&A Today was one we did on mental health. We discussed it, we discussed it in finance. We discussed burnout because it can be a lot of long hours, you know, times it can be very demanding and it’s really important that we eliminate that stigma and that we recognize that, you know, health is health. You know, someone breaks their arm, they go to the doctor, they get taken care of, if something’s going on with your brain, you know, get, get the help you need to take care of it and a work needs to understand that.

Paul Barnhurst:

And so I really appreciate that piece there because that’s something I’m very, very passionate about. So thank you for that answer there. And for all of you sharing, you know, I will say is I’ve listened to each of your answers. I think, you know, the world’s in, in great hands. I’ve been very impressed with all of you today. And I just have, we have a couple more questions to go through. I know we’re coming up toward the end of our time, but one question I’d like to ask each of you is, you know, you’ve gone through school so far. What’s been your favorite finance class? Have you had a class that you’ve liked the most and we’ll start with you on this question, Charlie.

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah, I mean I’m not sure what Derek’s answer is going to be, but um, definitely one of my favorite classes and hopefully I don’t steal this from him is the private equity and venture capital class that I got to take from Taylor Nadauld at BYU. It was a super awesome experience and like I loved the people that I was in the class with. And then I also loved that the class really gave us an environment where we could work with the people around us and, and learn a lot about, um, finance as well. But I honestly saw that almost secondary to just the like finance environment that that class created. And I, I think that that speaks a lot to the class, but it also speaks a lot to the teacher that was actually the second class that I had taken from them for well from him. And hey had both been incredible experiences. I think for that reason they just really encouraged a good finance learning environment.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. Well, I appreciate that. So Derek, was that going to be your answer?

Derek Baker:

It was, but I’m going to talk about it as well. I love that class. That was a, it was an impactful class for a couple reasons. Um, Taylor Nadauld is an incredible professor and made a big impact on the way I think about finance and he’s always looking for new ideas in the realm of finance research and things like that. But also we had, we had two professors and the second was an adjunct professor, his name’s Bob Winder and he owns a private equity firm. And so we got like the real world experience in addition to the academic side of things. And that made that class really valuable to me. And especially like private equity venture capital is not what I’m going into. At least not right now. I’m going into FP&A, but it was really valuable to me.

Derek Baker:

That’s actually the class that I use the most in my day to day because whether you’re private equity, venture capital or FP&A your goal is the same. Your goal is to generate or maximize wealth for the shareholders. And when you’re a private equity principle valuing a deal, you’re trying to maximize wealth for your shareholders, which are your LPs and the same. Thing’s true. If you’re in FP&A. You’re looking at your business and saying, how can I maximize well for our shareholders? And so a lot of the principles that we learned in that class, I still use today, a lot of the frameworks and methodologies, the ways that we analyze business market revenue model all those different things. I think about a lot, um, in my day to day FP&A work. So, uh, I love that class as well. I think it’s one of the most applicable classes we took and learned a lot from it

Paul Barnhurst:

All. Well, thank you. Um, Gabriel, I know you’re not going to answer that class since you’re at UDub but what was your favorite finance class?

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

I would definitely say like my first one, my intro to finance, because it was so broad, you know, and I really liked seeing all the different aspects and facets that finance had. We did business cases, we did all kinds of different exercises, talked about what would go on, what would go on in the economy every day. Um, one thing that I thought was super cool was that we were going over like net present value. And at first I was like, I don’t know how I feel about this in terms of like confidence of like how, I don’t know at that time I was like, I don’t know, is this really important or whatever, whatever. And then I get to my internship and like we’re working on net present value and I’m like, wow, this is like, you know, when you really see it like at work for the first time, it was, it was, it was a surreal moment, but I really appreciate learning that and in that class and, and seeing how it actually applied in the real world and practicing it.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. No, I appreciate that. And you know, for me, it was my, it was my MBA. When I really fell in love in finance. It was my advanced finance class with a guy by the name of professor Gallagher. And he made us drink from a fire hose, the whole, you know, eight week course

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

<laugh>

Paul Barnhurst:

Crazy amount of work, but I loved it. It was a great, great learning experience. So appreciate each of you sharing that. And I did a venture capital one in MBA, and it was a really great course, so I could appreciate a little bit of that. Didn’t cover private equity, but we did cover VC. All righty. So next question here, we’re going to go a little more kind of personal. This is one, we ask everybody on the show. So we ask everyone to share something unique about themselves that we typically wouldn’t find online. And so we’ll go ahead and start with Gabriel on this one. We’ll give you the opportunity to share something unique about yourself.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Definitely. I really wanna share about like how passionate I am about like government and civic engagement, but like the question specifically says you couldn’t find that online. You can, like, I think you can like find that online. So something that you

Paul Barnhurst:

I’ll still let you share that one, if you, yeah. We’ll, we’ll give you that opportunity.

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Okay. That’s good. Because otherwise I would’ve said something like lame, like <laugh> like something random, but, but like, um, I’m really passionate about like once again, government and civic engagement, because I feel like sometimes people see like the economy, they see business and they see government as separate, but it’s, it’s really not, it’s all intermixed. And so I think the more we understand how we can get involved with our economy beyond just work and perhaps how our work or how our industry or whatever it affects the economy in society, I think is really important. And so, you know, it’s beyond just voting it’s beyond just going to work, but rather going back to like, you know, how people are trying to find purpose in their work, they’re trying to do something good, you know in their role in their career. And so that’s something I’ve always been interested in and I think I’m very glad to be in finance and in business because I will use that when I, you know, hopefully become a public official and a public servant one day is having that background as a business person. And being able to apply that. So yeah, I’ve done a lot of involvement in that and I, I, I hope to continue to do that in my future for sure.

Paul Barnhurst:

Thank you. I really appreciate that answer and I can relate my in undergrad, my minor was political science, so I can relate to the government side. And you know, one thing I like to say where you mentioned, they’re not separate know, some people talk about free market and there really is no free market. There’s a question of what’s the right amount of regulation and how should government regulation regulate our society and being involved in that can help benefit business society. And everybody, we may, you know, people may differ on how we do it, but the reality is government has a role to play and, you know, business does as well. And the more we recognize that and can work together the better for future generations. So thank you. I really appreciate that answer. We’ll go over to you, Derek. What’s your unique thing?

Derek Baker:

Yeah. My unique thing is I love to have new experiences like trying out new things, um, and going to different places. My wife and I like to travel. We actually just traveled to the middle east, um, at the beginning of the summer. And we spent time in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Jerusalem, and Jordan. And that was just cool experience. Uh, I enjoyed, enjoyed going those places. I never been to any of those places before and getting to know different cultures, getting to see how, um, all the history that is in all those places. And that was just , I love having new experiences. And one of my favorite things I did on that trip was got scuba certified. So, um, that was a, a cool new skill I learned and one that I hope to continue building upon.

Paul Barnhurst:

Great. Well, I appreciate that answer and that that’s great to experience new things. So Charlee, how about you?

Charlee Wambolt:

Yeah. Um, honestly I think, you know, like I spoke a little bit about like mental health awareness earlier. But I think that just like trying to live a healthy lifestyle is something that I have become very passionate about in the last couple of years. And I think another big, um, component of that is taking care of your physical health. And I think that, you know, similar to how we pursue different careers based on our interests, I think that you know, caring about your physical health does not need to be like a yes or no checkbox. I think that there’s a lot of different things that attract different people. And, I was lucky enough a couple of years ago to do a lot of, um, exploring new things. I think similar to what Derek was saying, but in a different way.

Charlee Wambolt:

And I was able to find some physical hobbies that I really enjoy. Like I really enjoy rock climbing. I love playing pickleball. Um, I love being in the water, like just diving into waves or body surfing or, hopefully one of these days I’ll try surfing. I tried it once in Hawaii and you know, probably got to my knees and that was about it as far as success standing up on a board. So I can’t say that I’m like a professional surfer yet, but I think that there’s a lot of, um, positive experiences that I’ve had with prioritizing my physical health. And, um, those are some of the hobbies that I have really come to enjoy.

Paul Barnhurst:

Oh, great. Now I appreciate that. And prioritizing physical health is an important one and developing hobbies. Those are great things to have. So this is the last question we have for each one of you. So the podcast was hosted by Datarails. Datarails are big fans of Excel. I’m also a big fan of Excel. And so what we like to ask people is what is their favorite Excel function? And maybe we’ll start with, go ahead and give you the opportunity here first Charlee, what’s your favorite Excel function?

Charlee Wambolt:

Oh, glad I get to go first. I wouldn’t want somebody to like take mine and then I’d be like, oh my gosh, what? Probably mine is like, I mean, maybe it’s basic, but the offset function just enabling you to kind of choose different cases. I think that there’s so much power that comes with that. Like, yeah, it just, it takes like a static Excel sheet and means that you can suddenly like, let your creativity go out the window. Like, just like take, put the Excel sheet through the roof. And so yeah, I have a lot of appreciation for the offset function. I probably use it more than anything else.

Paul Barnhurst:

That is a great function. And there’s a lot of things you could do with it. Thank you for sharing that one. Gabriel, what’s your favorite

Gabriel Valentin Navarro:

Mine? It’s ctrl alt v because I feel like with that function, I think if you don’t know that function, you think there’s only one way to pay something, but once you get ctrl alt v you either get like this, this like task manager pulls up like 10 ways to paste it and it’s so, so helpful. It’s so helpful because like, if you didn’t, you’d be like, oh, how am I gonna, you know, it’s, it’s the greatest shortcut. Just like, go find it, go practice it. I barely like discovered it like two days ago. So it’s my favorite.

Paul Barnhurst:

Yes. Bringing up paste special alt E alt ES will also do that as well. So that’s another way you can do that one. I’m a big fan of the paste special menu. I use it all the time, so yeah. Yeah. I’m also a big fan of offset. So those are two great ones. All right, Derek your turn.

Derek Baker:

Yeah. Um, it’s hard to pick just one, but, uh, <laugh>, I’d say the one that I’m always excited to use that I don’t get to use very often, because it’s a little more complex are array formulas where you can do a lot of custom logic, and like custom sums or counts. And I love when I get the chance to use them cause I’m kind of a geek and I think they’re kind of fun, but I don’t use ’em very often because no one else knows how to use them. And it’s terrible to inherit a spreadsheet that I use, but I’d say the, the function I cannot live without is power query. I’m going to too your own horn there, Paul and uh, get on the power query train. Like everyone needs to learn how to use Power Query. It’s the best tool for automating data. Um, data wrangling, all data cleansing, all that stuff. So every spreadsheet that I use external data for uses power query.

Paul Barnhurst:

So you’ll laugh at this one. We had an episode, we released last week’s episode. The lady gave Power Query as well. But in her answer she said the heavens parted, the angels came down when I learned about power query so you’ll have to listen to that. It was pretty funny. And I was like, really? It’s like yes and puppies and rainbows. So there you go. It definitely made me laugh. Well, I’ve really enjoyed the time with you guys today. I appreciate you carving out some of your Saturday. I know a couple of you are in New York and you know, wrapping up your internships here soon. So I hope you get some time to enjoy and get out and see some of the city and enjoy that experience, you know, and Derek, I know you’re down in Provo and just working for the summer and then you got school to finish up here only a few months left. So thank you. Each of you I’ve really enjoyed this. And you know, I just wanna say that I’ve been super impressed with each one of you. I think our future is in good hands, I’m confident you guys will all do great things in the finance realm and you know, hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to have our, you know, paths cross again. And if I can ever be of help to you guys, you can always reach out to me. So thank you so much for being on the show. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Derek Baker:

Thank you.