- FP&A Trainee
I really enjoyed my finance placement year at Johnson and Johnson and definitely think that it is one of the few companies where your role here is integral to the department. Placements at J&J do a considerable amount of meaningful work and the work culture here is incredibly relaxed and friendly whilst maintaining a productive flair.
Colleagues at Johnson and Johnson have a keen eye for hard work and are more than happy to show it if you are willing to put the effort. Johnson and Johnson have the Encore Awards system were you even have monetary bonuses depending on your level of contribution to the team and company. Your managers are seated right behind you in an open plan system making it an extremely friendly environment. We have monthly finance team meetings where achievements are celebrated as well.
Having had multiple managers throughout the placement year, it was a bit difficult to get accurate and timely feedback as I hadn't worked long enough with either manager. Johnson and Johnson managers are very friendly and it is something about the company and its credo that makes everyone nice. It is a bit difficult to get true and critical feedback from your managers as there is no set review structure in place to mark placements against and it is something they are working on.
J&J finance department's workload varies extensively on the calendar. The workload gets intense during Month Ends (being first week of the new month), where there is lots of month end reporting and accounting to be completed. The rest of the time is spent primarily on forecasting the next month estimates mid-month or building corporate forecasts quarterly. Other than these, there are various ad-hoc tasks finance gets requested to do which takes up bulk of the time. Also, the amount of work you are willing to take on definitely affects your workload.
My role specifically had an overwhelming amount of responsibility which I was lucky to be placed in. Finance around the world within Industry and especially within Johnson and Johnsons is undergoing a major change to move from standard menial processes to advanced analytics and more business partnering to add real value to the company. As I reported to a Cluster lead, I was heavily involved with senior management in delivering knowledge transfer to Shared Service Centres who would take up the workload of Financial Planning & Analysis giving us advanced analytics to use for business partnering. Being a part of the transition fast tracked my personal and career development.
University and schooling definitely did not prepare me for the real groundwork that is required in a corporate work environment. Most of the excel skills I required where all learnt on-the-job. Johnson and Johnson managers extremely understand and train you very well in the first few months to get you on-board your role. There are various training sessions at the start of the year to help you jumpstart your understanding of this incredibly complex company. These are standard transferable technical skills which will come in use no matter which company or role you take on in the future, The work ethic, time-management, prioritisation, etc. that one develops in any standard 9-5 job is also extremely helpful in future academic studies.
The atmosphere within the finance department is incredibly cheerful with senior managers who have worked here for 10+ years to managers who have just joined the department (externally or internally). Everyone is surprisingly always cheerful everyday which really helps make the work smoother and more enjoyable as well. This atmosphere is a true reflection of J&J’s credo and what it stands for.
We had several induction sessions at the start of the year which was set up by the previous placements with various departments. We were also given additional technical training to kick-start our placement year. Other than this, there is not much planned placement rotation programs or structure in place throughout the year to further develop one’s career as your role does tend to become quite stagnant after a while. The only way to enhance your experience is to put yourself out there and grab other opportunities which J&J does allow.
The company does invest in you in the start with various training sessions but most of your role is learnt on the job anyways. The Training and development you receive completely depends on your line manager, their years of experience, and their managing style. But since you tend to work in bigger teams, you get called upon by various managers and learn to adapt to various styles and learn something different from every one of them.
The FLDP (Finance Leadership Development Program), though not a standard grad job placement, is a company-wide accelerated route to upper management program that people all over the world as well as within the company apply to. It is a 2 year program where you work abroad for a year and back in your home country for another year. You have an extensive amount of training given, 6 week training program in the US, as well as a mandatory rotation program where you get to work in a different country (not possible in several companies). It is definitely a very appealing future job.International students might find it difficult for entry into FLDP in UK though.
The social scene amongst the fellow placements completely depends on the people who join and whom you stay with. There are about 12 – 15 placements who join and there is a considerable opportunity to set up your group at the start. Since Maidenhead is very easily connected to London and other Major cities, the placements on our year tended to go out back to Uni or Home during the weekends mostly. However, we did manage to squeeze in quite a few movie and Poker nights, BBQ sessions, football games, birthday dinners etc.
Maidenhead is mostly a retirement village with the exception of the big major companies within business parks across the town setting up headquarters here. Most employees live in surrounding areas outside Maidenhead, but most of the placements will end up living in maidenhead due to the convenience. There is a free shuttle bus from the train station across bath road to the J&J offices which is extremely helpful to get to and fro work and would advise you to live alongside its path. The cost of living and socialising is relatively high here due to it being close to London and is only going to go up with the Cross rail coming to maidenhead. But if you’re lucky you may be able to bag a bargain for rent on spareroom.co.uk.
What nightlife? Maidenhead has 2 clubs (pubs) primarily called Cocos and Smokey Joes. All placements will pass a “sort of” initiation by going to these places at the start of the year and then never go there again! There are an array of other pubs around with good food, karaoke, etc., but you will rarely go here. We usually ended up going into Reading or if we felt really fancy would also end up going into London.
There are quite a few company-wide sporting events to get involved in with free pizzas and beers later. There is a Football team and Cricket team which have weekly matches to get involved in and various charity events as well. The Alexander Devine local charity is J&J Consumer NEC’s primary charity partner and there are loads of events throughout the year to get involved in with them as well.