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Interview?Mr. Prudeno Natividad, the Parish Business Manager for the St. Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Vallejo (under the Diocese of Sacramento), found himself the subject of this interview. He is the gracious brother-in-law of a former co-worker and friend, and a new addition to my network. As Business Manager for a small, non-profit, religious organization, he shared that he oversees seven employees and four additional volunteers. He added that the organization receives supplementary support or coordinative services including manpower from 15 or more church organizations. Four of the seven employees report directly to him. Wearing several hats in the job, Mr. Natividad intimated that his favorite aspect of the job is dealing with Finance, Accounting, and Controllership. However, given that the organization is rather small, the Business Manager job description also delineates the role ofbeing a staff resource in support of the pastor, overseeing other such duties as human resource management and administration of personnel policies and procedures – on top of managing the finances of the parish.?Mr. Deney (as referred to by people close to him)elaborated on his day-to-day activities. He described that a typical day starts with a meeting with the volunteers and/or representatives of adjacent Catholic church organizations, who seek guidance or clarifications regarding their deliverables and timelines (projects and deadlines). After the morning meetings, Mr. Deney either meets in person or over the phone with suppliers and service providers to identify the most cost-effective deals, and negotiate maintenance- and facilities-related contracts – part of his facilities management responsibilities. He added that email exchanges with suppliers, providers, and contractors are also a significant part of his day to day duties.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, before proceeding to meet with internal and external organizational members, Mr. Deney shared that he conducts a review of the finance and accounting summaries with the Bookkeeper. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he tackles HR/OD, IT, and staff support issues, and on the afternoons, Mr. Deney typically supervises the service providers, volunteers, and church organizations on ongoing projects, ensuring that tasks and goals are done on a timely manner. Fridays, he said, are set aside to perform catch-up duties particularly for the week’s unfinished business. He also uses Fridays to plan and review future parish projects and activities. Lifting directly from his job description (a copy of which he had on hand to help jog his memory), Mr. Deney shared that he is responsible for preparing, administering, and reviewing the budget process in collaboration with the pastor and the Finance Council for their diocese. He also assists in preparing the yearly fiscal budget of the parish, and maintaining adequate internal control system to protect the parish assets and to guaranteeeffectual management of parish resources. His position also entails being in-charge of risk-management and compliance. In addition to coordinating, reviewing, managing, and safeguarding parish funds, he also shared that he signs checks needing urgent attention on behalf of the priests (when they’re not available to do so). He ended his description by adding that important decisions are made in consultation with the Pastor.?As far as the skills requirement, Mr. Deney indicated that such a finance and business management job would normally require knowledge of general accounting methods and practices(including general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, payroll, taxation, and personnel record keeping), and the ability to perform testing of account records and internal control systems, analyze accounting and financial data, and prepare and deliver written/oral reports with clarity and accuracy.  Mr. Deney shared that a keen sense in business and administration would be an asset for such a position, adding that prior experiences in finance, project management, and people management (leadership skills) would get you far in the business. He also specified that skills that people can acquire from any job experience or from the secondary school or college (such as reports writing, proper use of English/ business language including spelling, grammar, and punctuation, effective telephone skills, computer proficiency in accounting software and word processors, and knowledge of filing systems and business math) can all contribute to one’s success in the field. One particular skill that Mr. Deney stated was very helpful and important in the job is the ability to manage/handle/lead the employees and work well with people (interpersonal skills) – something that doesn’t require a degree but one that can be cultivated by anyone in any job or position or level. Mr. Deney did note that in order to be compliant with federal and state regulations, such finance management positions typically require some sort of degree or certificate (i.e., Public Accountancy, Management Accountancy, Financial Analysis, etc.) related to finance and/or accountancy. This Parish Business Manager position specifically requires five years of managerial or professional experience in accounting or business financial management, and Mr. Deney stated that he’s had well over five years of experience in the field, mostly in the Philippines (prior to moving to the U.S.). One unique aspect of Mr. Deney’s current position is that it is for a Catholic, non-profit church organization, and he shared that his being a practicing Catholic, his knowledge about the faith, his prior experiences as a church volunteer, and his previous experiences in Finance and management all contributed to his getting hired and his success in the job. Mr. Deney specified that the educational requirements for such a position would typically necessitate at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Finance, or Business Management or higher (i.e., graduate or even post-graduate degree). For this particular job with the Diocese of Sacramento, they specified the requirement of having a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance (or equivalent). Mr. Deney shared that church administration is both rewarding and challenging. Because his organization operates within the context of a non-profit, religious organization and structure, Mr. Deney noted that the work environment and office decorum can be very different from those of the typical for-profit organizations. One of the biggest challenges Mr. Deneyfaces in the job is the limited financial resource with which to work and operate, which subsequently trickles down to staffing or manpower, and tight control over budgeting. Often, the church is dependent upon volunteers. As such, there is a significant turnover, necessitating the need to continually educate newcomers with regard to their roles and responsibilities. Likewise, the employees and volunteers who do stay often face the challenge of having to handle multiple, cross-functional roles. Then there also is the lack of a more formal business structure common in typical for-profit organizations. Mr. Deney laments that he and the Parish leaders in general are figuring out ways to manage the organization more strategically, with the aim of having in place more robust policies, procedures, and internal controls. Having interacted with Mr. Deney, I realized the importance of having/acquiring the requisite hard skills in finance, accounting, and management in order to succeed in this field. They are the foundations to successful financial resource management and organizational longevity and sustainability. I also learned, however, that soft-skills such as effective interpersonal communication, leadership, problem-solving, creative thinking, openness to and learning from feedback, andbeing a team player – skills that nearly everyone can choose to cultivate in any given job – can all contribute to one’s success in any field, not just finance. Business skills (simple or complex) that we learn from the humblest first jobs to the most challenging big role jobs we ever had the fortune of handling all help to prepare us in tackling the day-to-day challenges of any management-type job we’re involved in today, or going to be involved in in the future.  

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