Taking over from one of three divisional controllers at Sea-Invest, TriFinance’s project consultant Steven Verniers knew he was in for a challenge. The assignment at Sea-Invest, one of the world’s largest terminal operators for fruit, dry and liquid bulk, was to help transform the financial data into valuable information for operations.
It's not a replacement
Sea-Invest has established a worldwide reputation in the field of stevedoring, transport, warehousing, and other port-related activities. The company is active in no less than 25 ports spread across two continents and is integrated into a great number of industries. When one of its three divisional controllers (liquid division) was about to leave the company in June 2020, Sea-Invest contacted TriFinance to take over on short notice. CFO Dominique Waeytens wasn’t simply looking for a temporary replacement.
We want to encourage our divisional controllers to gradually take on the role of business partner. So we were looking for someone who could do both.
Dominique Waeytens, CFO Sea-Invest
Something old, something new
At the same time, project consultant Steven Verniers was wrapping up a financial controlling project at Eurofins. “We knew that Sea-Invest and Steven would be a great match”, TriFinance’s business manager Monika Jaskiewicz explains. “Steven, one of our senior consultants, had extensive experience with change management at multiple companies. At the same time, he wanted to learn more about credit controlling and audit. Both aspects were part of the job description at Sea-Invest.”
Bridging the gap
“The first part of the assignment was evident “, Steven says. “I had to gather as much information as possible from the divisional controller I would soon be taking over from. Quite a challenge in itself, since there wasn’t a lot of time.” Steven had to get a hang of the various entities within Liquids, in order to check the bookkeeping, harmonize workflows, and cooperate with the auditing processes (both internal and external).
“After the first couple of weeks, I gradually expanded and streamlined controls to deepen the analyses, standardize reports, and provide more detail into the data”, Steven adds. “I also automated and simplified reporting processes in iController, to speed up the availability of reports for management and operations.” Furthermore, the team engaged Steven to pick up the budget process for the various entities. And Steven learned to enjoy preparing and presenting financial data to management. Last but not least, Steven started setting up a strict closing calendar. “A tight schedule enables operations to follow-up closely on the business from a financial perspective”, he explains.
The culmination of team efforts resulted in (the first steps towards) a new way of working. “At the end of my project in January, the controlling unit had already evolved a great deal, and it was gradually taking on the role of a business partner. You could already feel the positive impact it had on the team, on its willingness to grow. Because of course, It feels good when you can create added value for your company, when you feel like you’re making a difference.” It is a feeling Steven recognizes, because it is exactly why he signed up for TriFinance in the first place.