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Seena, Commercial Controller and Food & Travel Blogger, Based in Dubai, UAE

Friday, January 01, 2021

While Mondelēz International is keen to attract specialists, we are also looking for people who have other interests and want to broaden their horizons through different activities. One such all-rounder is Seena, a finance manager who writes a blog because she likes to do non-finance things outside of work. Here is her career story…

What is Your Background?

I achieved a bachelor's degree in Commerce and an MBA in Finance from Bombay University in my home country of India. Thereafter I started my professional career with Citi Group in Mumbai; then worked for a GCC based jewelry group in their Corporate office in Dubai before taking a break to pursue a Master’s in Accounting and Finance at London School of Economics.

I was approached by Mondelēz International and I found it very interesting because it offered international exposure in the exciting FMCG industry. I joined in their Dubai office in 2009 and have since then moved through various functions within Mondelez, gaining rich experience along the way.

What Attracted You to Mondelēz International?

Mondelēz International has been amazing for a lot of reasons. I've had the opportunity to interact with people from different cultures and to make many friends. There is also a remarkable legacy of brands associated with the company – every brand has its own identity in the market. As it is a global company, I've had the opportunity to work in local and regional roles, which I've thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s a very friendly place to work. Regardless of your level, you are treated with respect. I’ve had many mentors who have patiently coached me along my journey here. At every point I’ve always kept my managers informed about what I want to do next. I’ve been fortunate enough to move roles every two or three years and learn new things.

What Roles Have You Held?

I joined in the Growth Markets business based out of Dubai doing Financial Planning and Analysis.

Thereafter I moved into a regional category finance role covering Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EEMEA). It was a significant challenge, involving lots of new learnings and senior stakeholder management.

In 2015 I moved to supply chain finance to become a Procurement Finance Controller. I had very limited prior experience in this function, so had to learn everything on the job. I business partnered with the Senior Procurement Director and was the one point of contact for EEMEA procurement, also interacting with global procurement functions.

Mid 2016, I became the MEA sales controller for a newly formed cluster within the region. I did that for two years, interacting with the sales controllers in all the countries, coordinating the business plans, analysis and reporting, and presenting to top management.

Thereafter I wanted to gain experience in an operational market role, so in January this year, I started working as a commercial finance controller for the Gulf and Growth Markets business.

What Does Your Job Now Involve?

In commercial finance, no two days are the same. A good chunk of my time is spent in discussions with my various stakeholders, running simulations and feasibility analyses to help them plan the business. I am also involved in discussions with various functional teams to help them see things from a financial point of view. Presentations to senior management, financial analysis and reporting, and coaching/mentoring my team are other aspects of my role.

Have You Faced Challenges Because You are Female?

Quite often I’ve found myself as the only woman in a room full of men. But I think that empowers me.

I've had managers who have given me the power to take my own decisions about how I manage my work and my career. Mondelēz International has been very accommodating.

I have been impressed by the lack of ‘presenteeism’ because all my managers have given me flexibility as a working mum. In fact, there are quite a few women around the company who are managing very well, but it ultimately depends on the team you work with and your manager. I've been fortunate enough to work with people who have confidence in me, who trust that the tasks assigned to me will be done.

We want to promote diversity and inclusion but you wouldn't be able to do that if you didn't offer flexibility towards working women. Flexibility is the key to diversity and inclusion.

What Do You Do Outside Work?

When I go home, it's to my second full-time job with my boys, aged 2.5 and 6.5 years and of course my husband! We also have a nanny who's been with us a long time and is very much part of the family.

I love travelling, photography and eating out. So, in my spare time I write a food & travel blog based on my experiences. I prefer doing non-finance things outside of work.