Employee Spotlight: Gwénaël Lesaulnier talks global ERP delivery and making the impossible possible
Welcome to the FinancialForce Employee Spotlight Series! Here we highlight the many employees that help drive success of the company – across departments, offices, and the globe. These are the faces of FinancialForce.
In this edition, we speak with Gwénaël “Guena” Lesaulnier, Workflow QA Architect based out of our Granada, Spain office, to learn more about what led him to FinancialForce, his newest role in global product delivery, and his enthusiasm for the future of the company.
Hi Gwénaël! You have been with the company for nearly seven years. What was your background before FinancialForce?
Gwénaël: I was working as an SAP and CRM consultant for UNIT4 for about 10 years. I got to work with some of the largest businesses in Europe (e.g. BMW, British Telecom, and Hewlett Packard). I got to travel a lot, see different places and cultures, and learn more about the inner workings of a global business.
What led you to your role at FinancialForce?
Gwénaël: For me, it started as a UNIT4 consulting project, which led to a full-time position at FinancialForce. It was a career opportunity I was not going to pass up! When you are a new consultant and you work in IT, you think everything is decided in Silicon Valley. Now I get to be a part of this world, working for a dynamic San Francisco startup on some very innovative projects and with the latest technology. It was very exciting—and still is.
What is a typical day like for you now?
Gwénaël: I now manage a team, and it’s important to me to have regular communication with them – individually and as a group. We are responsible for managing and monitoring the automated QA process that runs thousands of tests everyday. These continuous full checks allow us to maintain the consistent quality of our products. I also have regular meetings with all the various product and development teams in the UK discussing product enhancements, project status, roadmaps, and what should be done to ensure quality.
Is there any specific accomplishment from the past year that you’re most proud of?
Gwénaël: This past September, I took on a new role to help establish and consolidate the development of our global ERP solution for the customer within R&D. My responsibility is to ensure all products are working well together and comply with our quality excellence requirements. We currently have 10 products and various teams each focused on a separate component of the solutions. I am now part of a new team, challenged to move the work of each product organization into a world of one. The work is not easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding and will benefit both the company and our customers.
What do you like most about working at FinancialForce?
Gwénaël: We have so many interesting people! Between the people I get to work with every day and the ambiance at the office I just know it’s going to be a good day. On a business level, what I like most is that the company is changing all the time. I’ve seen so many different stages of the company since joining in 2011, and I am sure in a couple of years the game plan will change even more and that’s very exciting.
Definitely! Change can be challenging for some people, and exciting for others. Do the changes over the past couple years make you optimistic about our direction?
Gwénaël: I think it’s probably the most important event in the last four years for FinancialForce. The new executive team and many other new people I work with come from some of the most successful software companies in the world. They arrived with a fresh mind and a very modern way of working, and I’m very proud to be part of it.
What are the things that you most love working on in your new role?
Gwénaël: With my experience as a consultant, I have always been focused on the customer because I worked directly with them day-to-day. Now being in QA, I get to focus on delivering the products that our customers want and make sure the products meet and exceed their expectations.
Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like working in Granada for those of us who have never visited?
Gwénaël: Granada is a very beautiful, friendly city with a lot of history. We have a fantastic downtown area, the beautiful Alhambra Arabic palace, mountains all around, and scenic views from all parts of our office. It’s a city that’s not too big and not too small. It’s also very social. I’m not Spanish, I’m French, but I’ve lived here for many years now and appreciate the social, generous nature of the people here.
Sounds beautiful. And what do you do in your free time?
Gwénaël: I really like to be outside so I do a lot of walking and hiking in the mountains. Also, I really love cooking. On the weekends I spend a lot of time in markets getting inspiration for what I can cook for my family. I can spend hours in the kitchen trying to create the next best dish.
What’s your favorite food to cook?
Gwénaël: I tend to focus on French cuisine.
What do you wish someone had told you 10 years ago?
Gwénaël: Yes, I would say “do what you’ve always dreamed to do and don’t wait.” I say this because later you may not have the opportunity or you may have other reasons to not do it. For example, I love sailing, so I would like to sail around the world, but now I have a family and kids. I know it’s going to be more difficult, but I could have done that ten years ago. But I will never say never!
Gwénaël: Blue… the color of the sky, the sea, and also my eyes.
Gwénaël: Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. You not only see some beautiful landscapes from America, but also you can see so many aspects of the human soul.
How about music?
Gwénaël: I like all kinds of music but rock is my favorite, and the fun 70s stuff.
Do you have a superpower?
Gwénaël: Yes, I am never lost (well, almost never). Physically, I can be anywhere in a city I don’t know, and I always know which direction to go and where the hotel or the meeting is. Also, emotionally, I never have the sensation of not knowing what to do or what’s coming next. It’s not always correct but it’s always clear!
Finally, who is someone that inspires you?
Gwénaël: Mike Horn. He is a South African-born Swiss professional explorer and adventurer who drives a survival program on French TV very similar to “Running Wild with Bear Grylls”. He has an amazing talent in helping people see and do things that they thought were physically impossible and that’s very inspiring to me. My favorite quote from him: “The impossible exists until only we find a way to make it possible.”