May 2020 – Oyinda Salako

Oyinda Salako, Sr. Financial Analyst

“Diversify your day – do different things that give your brain a workout”
This is a best practice that I aim to live by in all areas of my life. Professionally, this encourages me to get out of my comfort zone by adventuring into something new. Experiences like this are crucial for furthering your growth. Last year, I graduated from the novel Finance Development Program after finishing two very different rotations. These opportunities challenged me and broadened my perspective – giving me the ability to acquire new skills and connect with others.
The first rotation focused on building multi-faceted reports using Power BI. Tracking key performance indicators and problem-solving were the main components of my day to day. I may have briefly used Excel in my college classes, but I had never even heard of Power BI. Luckily, I was on a team where every single person was willing to teach me the ropes and bring me up to speed. After 6 months, I finished my rotation managing 9 Power BI dashboards for executive leaders across Xandr. This experience allowed me to learn from inquisitive tech-savvy professionals which has fueled my own curious mindset. I’ve since earned a Data Analyst nanodegree – refining my ability to prepare data for exploration and visualization while advancing my programming skills.
Focusing on any type of technical work can be very frustrating as it requires an abundance of patience. Very similar to programming, there is more than one way to reach a goal, draft a presentation, or produce a report. Especially when collaborating across teams, it can be difficult to figure out ways to incorporate different ideas into one final product. For me, this occurs when I am building a new dashboard for large teams. One of the key elements to success in a situation like this is to listen carefully to others with the aim to understand their emotions or reasoning behind their ideas. Doing so, has grown my emotional intelligence – enabling me to create win/win situations for everyone, only after we come together to recognize the needs of every stakeholder.
The other rotation was a chief of staff support role where I helped create executive presentations with talking points for chief leadership meetings and conferences. The need to quickly understand the evolving drivers and strategies of every business unit was tricky. Thankfully, this was a team where organization was key; well-documented reference notes filled in any gaps – explaining the interdependence between business silos. By the end of my 6 months, I crafted stories for board of directors meetings, operations reviews, leading with distinction, town halls, employee group conversations, and more. I learned how to communicate overall business strategy and connect the plan to audiences across many levels of leadership.
Although divergent, these opportunities brought me out of my comfort zone to advance my development and diversify my skillset. I gained the technical ability to perform data manipulation and integration, the emotional intelligence to manage multiple conflicting ideas, as well as the communication skills to craft a captivating and honest story. Currently, I am a financial analyst on the AT&T Real Estate Analytics and Systems team, (AREAS). I provide analytical support for Real Estate Operations with an emphasis on designing business intelligence reporting to communicate operational progress and support data-driven decision making. As I progress in my career, I’ll always seek opportunities that promote continuous learning, expand my perspective, and introduce new skills. I advocate that others do the same. When you have the initiative to cultivate a growth mindset while remaining open to the possibilities, you’ll find yourself developing in better ways than you imagined.