- By Colleen McNamara
There are many advantages to working at a company that’s transforming from its startup phase into a powerful enterprise. Our financial controller, Annie Blanchette, describes the exciting, dynamic environment she works in everyday — and offers sound career advice for those of you who are looking for the next phase of your professional journey.
First things first — tell us about where you’re from & your background:
I’m a Montrealer! I was born and raised in the South Shore. Fast forward 20-some years later, I was pursuing a science degree at the University of Sherbooke, about 2-hours away from home.
You studied science! How did that get you into the finance world?
Well, I switched out of science after I realized I didn’t have an end goal in sight: I wondered, “what am I going to do after this?” So I went for plan B, and studied Business Administration at HEC. I explored the different areas in business and found my calling in accounting. Eventually, I completed my CPA at HEC as well.
What was your first introduction into the professional world as an accountant?
For six years, I worked for the Office of the Auditor General of Canada as a financial auditor. I worked locally, but I traveled many places as well — from Ottawa all the way to Whitehorse. I had great mentors while working here and it was a really incredible opportunity to visit more remote places in Canada that I wouldn’t typically go to (I love to travel!)
That’s a really cool experience — and seemingly much different than working for a nimble tech startup! Can you describe the path to our front doors?
After I worked for the Auditor General, I was the financial manager at La Place des Arts, which was great because I love the art and entertainment industry. But I was eventually ready to find something that was more vibrant and flexible, where I could learn about business growth from a more general perspective. I did my research and landed on SweetIQ.
How did you land on SweetIQ? What was the process like?
Well, true to “accountant” form, I’m a very structured and organized person! I had a list of criteria. I knew I wanted a job in the tech environment, and I visited the office and I loved the people and the atmosphere and the opportunity for growth! At the time, SweetIQ was located on Rene Levesque, and I was greeted by Sudo (our office dog). You can’t beat that.
What made SweetIQ different than other companies you were looking at?
It was a staff culture “win” for me. I wanted a place that was fast-paced and upbeat with opportunity for growth and learning.
Tell us a bit about your day-to-day tasks.
Well, from a broad view, I manage the entire finance team. I look at everything that is under the umbrella of the B2B operations: billing, account receivables, accounts payable, the cash flow, forecasts, etc. I’m also working on a ton of synergy management with our new parent company, ReachLocal.
How would you describe working at SweetIQ to someone else?
First thing: it’s a super young company that moves FAST! There are so many talented people who work in this office for you to learn from and engage with.
What’s your favorite part about working at SweetIQ?
I love my team! I like the challenges that we face together and figuring out how to solve them. There’s always something new to learn, and I can explore so many concepts that I learned academically within a day-to-day context. It’s much different than a highly structured, old-school organization, as everything is new and in flux. Because of that, there is a ton of room to innovate as we build our processes.
What’s the best piece of career advice you have for someone?
Find a place where you know you’ll be brought out of your comfort zone, and be sure you can bring unique value to the table. You should think of your company as a mutual exchange of knowledge: you give your knowledge, and the company gives you knowledge back.
LifeIQ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received from an employer?
When I was working for the Auditor General, my director had a great knack for bringing things back down to earth. He always contextualized our role within the greater scheme of life and business, and really encouraged us to have fun and enjoy ourselves along the way. It’s good to laugh at work!
LocalIQ: What’s your favorite place in Montreal?
Oh, Montreal summers are my favorite. I love the parks; they are so lively. You can relax with your friends and have people around you cycling and playing music. In the winter, I’ll head for a chalet outside of the city.