Hi David, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi everyone! My name is David. I currently reside in DTLA and I work for NBCUniversal.
Just to share a bit of background information about myself, I was born in Korea and moved to Orange County in middle school. I then went on to graduate from Pepperdine, where I spent my 2nd year studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. Coming from a diverse background, I learned to cherish every moment & make the most out of every situation because those moments sometimes only happen once and they shape who you are today. I also greatly value relationships, so spending time with family and friends is one of my favorite things to do. Aside from that, I love watching and playing sports (primarily soccer, baseball, golf, and football). I also enjoy going to music concerts ranging from classical music to EDM (electronic dance music).
Can you tell us what you do as a Senior Financial Analyst at NBCUniversal for those who are unfamiliar?
I am a part of the Film Finance HQ team at Filmed Entertainment Group (Universal Pictures). At a high level, we consolidate the financial aspects of movies distributed by Universal Pictures by communicating with 10+ Business Units and reporting to the executive team & NBCUniversal NY Headquarters.
As a Senior Financial Analyst (FP&A) in FilmHQ, my job consists of 50% FP&A (financial planning) and 50% financial strategy.
For financial planning, I create estimates of the revenues/costs of each title (movie) for the upcoming 10-year period (this 10 year financial model is called an “ultimate”) since its release. Each title’s financials are tracked starting with the greenlight/budget phase, when the title’s production and financing has been approved.
For financial strategy, I build out scenarios of the titles depending on the release strategies to forecast the CTM (“Contribution to Margin” or basically revenues less exploitation costs & amortization costs) which feeds into company’s recognition and financials. We use other metrics such as Cash on Cash (Rev/Cost) to see if the title is worth the investment too.
These are only a few main things among many other responsibilities that I handle in this exhilarating role. Personally, it’s very exciting to be in this role also because once a title is tracked, you know about the movie’s business strategy and financials better than anyone in this world.
How did you decide to pursue finance?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always liked numbers, whether from math classes or sports statistics (like I mentioned I am a huge sports fan!). Numbers have always excited me because I can use them to tangibly compare and forecast things that would have otherwise been impossible.
On a business level, I love how financial backgrounds can positively impact companies. For example, they can allow one to evaluate the growth of the company or point to a better business choice. It is not an understatement to say financial information is the backbone of all businesses. Without accurate financial planning, a company may not succeed long-term. To me, it’s very thrilling to understand how companies work in teams and to participate in the decision making process.
I want to continue to explore financial planning, strategy, and corporate development to help the companies make financially sound decisions.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
To be a part of an entertainment company, you definitely need to have a strong interest in the industry. This could be displayed by any past work experiences/ internships related to media/entertainment. Also, keeping up to date about the current/recent entertainment news helps as well.
Also, this particular job heavily relies on Excel and financial modeling so having the understanding of the Microsoft program and different types of modeling will be beneficial. A basic background in accounting, in terms of understanding how financial statements build off of each other, will be helpful.
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
I would definitely recommend someone who is planning to break into FP&A to study macros/VBA as it will be a crucial skill set to have when you work on financial modeling. Some websites I recommend are Coursera and Linkedin Learning.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
• Strong sense of responsibility – ownership
• Problem solving
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
The most satisfying thing for me is when I witness my work come to fruition. There is really no other better feeling than to watch the movie that I have worked on with my family/friends (although I may not have contributed to the production of the film). Moreover, when the movies are recognized by the public and win any awards, it’s a pretty rewarding feeling. I believe this is one of the coolest parts of the job as I can witness the outcome of my work and be reminded of what I am working towards.
The most challenging thing about my job is not only do I need to be proficient at my job but also I need to fully understand the 10+ Business Units’ (BU) jobs. Sometimes, it requires you to intervene and fix BU’s issues and solve any problems on their behalf. Think of it as if you are working on a group project with your fellow classmates and you were tasked with compiling everyone’s section on the due date. However, as you are consolidating everyone’s work, you run into a page where a section is deviating away from the prompt. Then you would most likely need to step in yourself and fix the page right before you submit the project. Therefore, although it is not a part of the job description, you may need to understand the business entirely and step in to solve any issues on your own.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
First, I would tell myself not to worry too much about my career path. When I was in college, I was pretty anxious about securing a full-time job, especially because I had been rejected many times. Also, I would tell my younger self that it’s okay to make mistakes and that failures and mistakes make you a better person!
Growing up in a traditional Asian household as an only child, I felt weighted down by the high expectations that my parents set for me. Thus, I felt like I had no room for failure. I would remind myself that God has complete plans for me so trust in Him. Looking back, every experience and step that I took have been great lessons for me as they shaped me and taught me lessons that I still live by. That being said, there is no wasted time so whatever I do, give it my best.
I would also like to say to go do fun things by either hanging out or traveling since it’s very important to enjoy life and make memories.
Best advice you've received/heard?
• Extra 10% rule: when you deliver every task, what is the extra 10% I can do to make it better? The CFO of Universal Pictures shared this piece of advice to me as he explained a rule of thumb that he lived by ever since he started his career and to this day. It may sound very simple but that extra 10% in every task will allow you to stand out at your job and quickly gain trust from your supervisors.
• “God finds us in the holes we dig for ourselves. We see failures; He sees foundations” Although this is not advice, this quote from Bob Goff always encourages me when I feel small/lost and hopefully this serves as a reminder of the greater truth.