Hello and welcome to ChallengeJP! My story with Excel starts in the early 90s, when my cousin introduced me to a pioneering spreadsheet program called Lotus 1-2-3. This was a long time ago but I still remember how fascinating it was to write a simple formula, connect a few cells, and play around with the numbers to change the outcome. I'd always been the family computer whizz, helping grandpa scan a photo or something of the sort but my newfound love for spreadsheets meant mom would even outsource her accounting work to me! As you can imagine, I got to grips with spreadsheets pretty quickly.
Fast forward several years, I had just arrived in London after five years of studying in the sunshine at the University of California, Berkeley. I was quickly realising that as much as I loved the studies, my degree in Political Science wasn't getting me many job opportunities. Everyone seemed to be hunting for practical skills, so I decided to dust off my spreadsheet knowledge and learn Excel. My first job wasn't particularly well-paid, and it mostly involved running reports and taking care of databases, but it allowed me to meet great people and put me on the right path to developing my spreadsheet expertise further. Over a year later, I started work as a Data Analyst at London's Heathrow airport dealing with massive amounts of data. It was there I learned more about Excel's advanced features, like macros and VBA.s. It was a fantastic, eye-opening experience but I quickly realised I was craving a more exciting, dynamic work environment, so I opted to move on and begin work at a startup. My official job title was "business analyst" but in practice, I was the office "Excel guy". I worked closely with the startup's CFO, which eventually motivated me to develop my financial knowledge and so I passed level I of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. Working in a startup gave me a great opportunity to come face-to-face with creative entrepreneurs and take part in my first venture capital fundraise.
I love new challenges and adventures, so when Yahoo! offered me a senior analyst position with relocation to Switzerland, I couldn’t say no. I loved the landscapes and the surroundings of Lake Geneva, but I quickly found that working in a big corporate environment was not for me. When two of the founders from my previous startup phoned to say they were working on a new venture in telecoms, I decided to pack my bags and join them. As the company was looking to raise over £100m, this was a big deal. I was now working on creating complex financial models and over the next few years I played an active role in taking the company public. After the fun-filled but very dramatic roller coaster of working in yet another ambitious startup, I decided to take a step back and set up my own consultancy, hoping that I can share my Excel knowledge and experience with people like you!
Excel is now only a small part of my life. To keep my creative juices flowing I am working on developing a website called TrashWriters.com where I aim to foster collaboration among people who love to write and share their stories. If that sounds like you then drop me an email so I can keep you updated with my progress.