Q&A with Deepak Jayaprakash
Deepak Jayaprakash, Finance Director of Expedia EMEA talks to us about how they do things over at Expedia, about a few things that have changed since their 2016 training programme, and about his experience of F-TEN®.
What were the highlights of F-TEN® for you?
I really enjoyed working with a C-suite Mentor, with whom I would go for lunch and talk through business issues and my career development. The group training sessions were also excellent, with a mix of teaching, peer-to-peer discussion groups, and talks from a variety of CFOs/CEOs. The talks were great in offering a window onto the career decisions and journeys these leaders have taken, and how I can apply this insight to my own career.
- How has the in-house training changed the way you do things?
One of the great things about it was the focus on how we can improve the impact of the reporting we produce. I have now heard several anecdotes where delegates have taken their data-heavy reports and converted them into reports that showed fewer numbers/charts but showed the critical data that management should be concerned about. These were then backed up with insights as to why the data is important and what action should be taken. This is where Finance can really add value to the business: by kicking off a discussion that can lead to positive action.
The other area that the programme has helped is in improving our ability to influence, through techniques around simplicity, positive language and contextualisation. One of our CFOs has even remarked that she has seen her team using these techniques to argue for better pay rises.
- Expedia’s experienced a lot of growth, both organic and M&A. How has F-TEN® influenced the way you manage the challenges and opportunities this presents?
One of the most valuable things about F-TEN® has been the networking opportunities with both fellow FDs and experienced finance leaders. The sharing of ideas and experiences has meant I have useful alternative frames of reference when considering some of the opportunities and challenges facing Expedia. For example, we acquired a new business last year and I was able to apply some of these learnings to integrate the business into Expedia in terms of data migration, reporting, people and strategy. Speaking to those involved in the F-TEN® programme was very helpful in shaping my approach to make this a successful integration.
- How do you think professional courses play a part in making improvements to business and strategy?
Expedia has a strong culture of taking calculated risks. For instance, one of our core tenets is to ‘test and learn’ everything to move the business forward, and we run hundreds of tests a year to improve our service. What this means is that we are comfortable with making mistakes as long as we can learn from them and apply them to the next thing we do. This gives us the confidence to be innovative and entrepreneurial.
I think professional courses are crucial in providing a fast-track to understanding what works and what doesn’t, and applying that to the business. Moreover, some of ICAEW’s strategy courses helped provide a framework to the finance community on how best to frame discussions and ask the right questions when debating strategy within the business.
What is the next step for you and your team in terms of professional development?
Given the success of the 2016 programme, we are continuing the Expedia-ICAEW training programme into 2017 and hope to have around 90 European finance professionals investing up to five days each of their time in professional development. Our leadership team takes training investment incredibly seriously, as we believe it is a very cost-effective way to develop our team and improve its impact on the business, and a great way to attract and retain the very best talent.