Inside Illumio is a monthly series that highlights the exceptional individuals behind Illumio’s world-class products. Each post will peek behind the scenes to spotlight a member of our team. Come get to know us a little better and learn more about what makes Illumio’s culture so unique.
This month, meet Eric Zhao, Senior Finance Manager, FP&A. Learn about the cross-functional nature of his role on the finance team and the book series he read that’s heading to Netflix!
Tell us about yourself. What do you do at Illumio?
I joined Illumio over two years ago and serve as the Senior Finance Manager, FP&A. Specifically, I support the go-to-market (GTM) and support and services teams. I like to think of the FP&A team as the glue that holds all of Illumio’s functions together—we achieve our goals by delivering excellence.
We support the executive team through our annual operating planning (AOP) and strategic models, short- and long-term forecasting and analysis, headcount and resource planning, and quarterly business reviews (QBR), board decks, all-hands slides. For individual business groups, we focus on spend analysis, forecasting reviews and discussions, financial reporting and optimization, and any additional ad hoc analysis that is required or requested. And lastly, we also support financial close with data validation, account analysis and reviews.
What made you interested in working at Illumio?
The people and culture are unique at Illumio, there is an entrepreneurial spirit here and everyone plays a vital role in the company’s development. We’re always looking to make improvements and build new processes to drive efficiencies.
What does a day in the life of Eric look like? What are you working on that excites you?
My days are spent working with my business partners to understand their needs. I provide data, information, analysis, and metrics. I also share historical and forecast data, so we can learn more about spending patterns and determine where the teams need added support.
Additionally, we are always building new metrics to accelerate our business growth, either by region or by function. Overall, we’re pretty busy all the time, as different seasons have different initiatives. We’re in the process of automating our master model, which is a very exciting project to be part of.
Right now, I am focused on leading the efforts around our AOP planning to support our corporate goals and objectives and enable our growth.
How do you stay connected with your team while we’re working remotely?
My team has daily huddles and we get on Zoom a lot. My manager, Lilia Posada, has created a supportive environment that is very open and collaborative. She is a great advisor and teacher.
We share not just about work, but also about our personal lives—challenges, kids, COVID experiences, and more. For me, a personal connection is very important. I care about the work, but I also care about my colleagues and their wellbeing. For example, we celebrate birthdays on our team and never forget to share cards and flowers.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at Illumio so far?
At Illumio, I’ve learned that you can achieve any goal you set your mind to, one step at a time. I’ve also learned the power of adaptability. At a start up where things change and evolve quickly, it’s important to creatively adapt and evolve to meet the changing demands of the business.
What are you passionate about outside of your career?
I like to travel, but unfortunately, haven’t been able to travel much lately due to the pandemic.
I also really enjoy reading. I mostly read Sci-fi and biographies. Recently, I read the Three-Body Problem trilogy series, written by Chinese author Liu Cixin, and highly recommend it. In fact, I believe it is becoming a Netflix series, but likely won’t air until 2023.
Which Illumio core value resonates most with you and why?
Onwards Together. Definitely. The team is greater than the sum of its parts. No matter how hard you work, you always need your team to support you. Together, we can achieve great things and I feel fortunate to work with amazing colleagues every day that support me, as I support them.
What do you want people to know about working at Illumio?
I work alongside world-class individuals here at Illumio. People who are smart, of course, but also helpful and passionate. It’s rewarding to be on this journey with other driven colleagues who have become friends of mine.
I’d also like to point out the supportive nature of our executive team. Specifically, I work closely with Anup Singh, our CFO, who is a great mentor and excellent leader for our organization. He’s always willing to share his thought process behind requests, and takes time to provide his perspective. It’s made me a better finance professional and I’m incredibly thankful for his leadership.
Interested in joining the team? Check out our career openings.