10 Questions with Kim Male (March 2020)
1. What do you do at The Marquee Group?
I am a Director on the Consulting team. I work with clients to help them solve complex business problems with Excel. I like to think of myself as a detective; I listen to clients to uncover their needs and then create unique solutions to better standardize and streamline their models.
2. How long have you been at Marquee?
I have been at Marquee for just over four months.
3. How have your first few months been?
Fantastic. This is probably one of the most challenging and fun experiences I have ever undertaken. I have the opportunity to do what I love all day, every day. In my previous roles, I was responsible for a lot of cyclical internal reporting and I instinctively always knew when those tasks were looming each month. I remember being at Marquee for a couple weeks, sitting at my desk, and being overcome with the feeling that I didn’t have to do month-end anymore. I could actually just model all day and thought, “this is my dream!”. I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many like minded modelers. One of my favourite things in the Consulting pod is the “Excel nerd talk” we have. I now catch myself saying things to my colleagues like, “now that is an elegant formula.” For me, what I get to do at Marquee is a truly wonderful thing.
4. That’s great to hear. I don’t think I’ve ever complimented anyone’s beautiful Excel formula but I will now look for an opportunity! What did you do before you joined Marquee?
I was in corporate finance for 20 years at a variety of different companies: Pharma, Chemicals, Fresh Food, CPG, and most recently, Manufacturing. I spent the majority of my career in FP&A. In my last role before I came to Marquee, I switched over to a more traditional accounting role in controllership and did that for about two years.
5. It sounds like you have always been fascinated with numbers. When did you start to really enjoy modeling?
I have used Excel extensively throughout my career mostly for the purpose of extracting and analyzing information from ERP systems. Over time, I became more knowledgeable about how to use numbers to tell the right story and more effectively communicate complex ideas. Modeling used to be something I did on the side of my desk – almost like special projects – and I loved the creativity with Excel. But then it became something I really started to invest time in because I learned to build tools that could do something in 30 minutes versus 3 hours. I was able to spend more time understanding what the numbers actually meant rather than just building a report. It became a matter of efficiency. My colleagues started to notice and I then I started helping them with their models.
6. Working in Excel for long hours sounds like it would make you hungry. What is your favourite snack to munch on while building a model?
Peanut M&M’s. I used to work at Mars Canada and developed a special affinity for them. That was one one of the perks of working for a candy manufacturer; I was surrounded by my favourite handheld modeling snack at all times! It was pretty amazing. There was chocolate everywhere you looked.
7. What is your favourite keyboard shortcut or modeling tip?
Alt + W + F + F to freeze panes. When you are scrolling through big spreadsheets and creating formulas into those double letter columns to the right, being able to quickly freeze columns is a big timesaver. It’s a simple shortcut with a big impact.
8. A little bird told me you are really into cake decorating (and really good at it!). Tell us more about that.
When my youngest son was born, I decided that I would go all out and order a custom cake from a bakery for his baptism. The bakery made the most beautiful cake in the shape of my son’s baptism vest. I fell in love with the look of the cake and how it was designed. But I knew that I couldn’t afford to order a custom cake for every single celebration. So I decided to take a cake decorating course and practice my skills at home. When I took the cake decorating course, the primary focus was various flowers; I have two young boys which means I don’t really get to make those often! I spend a lot of time at the hockey rink with my sons so decorating cakes is a great way to escape and focus on my own hobby. Now for the boys’ birthdays, they get to choose whatever theme they like and I get to create it. It’s kind of like modeling – it’s a creative space while learning different techniques
9. I think you have the makings of a burgeoning master cake decorator! But if you weren’t working at Marquee, what would you be doing?
If you had asked me that question six months ago I would have said an architect. Again, it’s that combination of technical and design skills that I enjoy. But honestly, now that I’ve found this role at Marquee I don’t think I would have changed the path I took. I really love where I’m at right now.
10. L-shaped Enter key or straight Enter key?
Straight. Anything with the ‘L’ reminds me of my brother’s C64 (that’s Commodore 64 for anyone born outside this century).