In very very exciting news, (at least for those of you who find an abacus to be a neat-o fun game as I do), I managed to close my bookkeeping already for the month.Every single financial transaction for the whole mission has been condensed into tiny tiny little electronic files and emailed off to the people in Amsterdam.Just one of the many many checks to ensure we aren’t blowing all the money on jube-jubes and carnival rides.
The reason why I was able to close so fast my first time was simple.The person sitting at the other desk in my office held my hand, (figuratively of course), the whole way through and kept me from barfing.See, when I worked in Khartoum I was responsible for making sure all of my bookkeeping got to the Finco, but now I’m the Finco, so the admins in the projects are all sending their books to me, and then I’ve got to make sure it’s all authorized and correct, that everything balances and a billion other things, and then I have to send the files off to the people in Amsterdam who do some magical things to them up to and including having small elves checking the math, (at least this is what I assume happens).
And last year, the first time I closed my own bookkeeping in Khartoum, it was a bit sad really.I had a wretched cold (too many airplane rides and changes in climate), I was desperately homesick (one month without friends, family or fiancé), there were strange disparities (that eventually turned out to be due to a simple typo made when the new files had been installed but it took me two days to finally figure that out)… needless to say I cried a lot.Now, I’m not telling you because I’m proud of the crying, (what a great introduction to my new staff, ‘Hi, I’m your new boss and I like to cry in my office!’), but rather, I’d like to juxtapose that experience to this one.This time, not a tear was shed, nor a stomach heaved, as Ambrose answered each one of my ‘one more quick question’s and watched patiently as I slowly worked through the step by step guidelines that come with the finance software.So the reason I have successfully and quickly closed for my first time (!!!) as Finco, is simply because I have a great co-worker.
Ambrose, the Financial and Administrative Supervisor, has been working for MSF in Bangladesh pretty much forever as far as I can tell.He’s got more than 10 years experience, and he can do all of this with his eyes closed.I cannot believe how lucky I am to come in as a new Finco and have someone as experienced and patient as he is to train me.I mean, I took the specific MSF course all about these things, but that was 6 months ago, and it isn’t the same as when you actually do it (our computer program has lots of the ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ type buttons that really do little for my confidence).And I’m lucky enough to get one more month close with Ambrose before he heads off to Amsterdam to become an expat Finco as well.Let’s just hope I’m never competing with him for a job.