Women and Innovation: Linda Parker

At L&P, we’re inspired by our colleagues who go above and beyond to enhance our businesses. This month, we’re sharing stories of women at L&P who have improved our products and processes with their creativity and leadership.

Meet Linda Parker, Controller for U.S. Operations within Home Furniture! Throughout her 25 years with us, Linda has enhanced our businesses by improving efficiency and introducing new forms of standardization. We asked her some questions about work, mentorship, and how she overcomes challenges.

What is a day at work like for you?

Every day is different. At the start of a new financial period, I might field questions related to the previous period and start preparing forecast material. That morphs into the Finance and Accounting team preparing forecasts that I review and consolidate. After the forecasts are consolidated, I provide financial explanations to our Home Furniture group’s management.

Sometimes, I work on different analyses for Home Furniture’s management team so they have the financial information they need to drive our business forward. I also work with branch management on accounting and internal control issues.

How have you enhanced our businesses?

There are two enhancements that I am most proud of. The first relates to my tenure in overseeing the compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We had an issue where we needed to revise our physical inventory procedures, and I visited branches to see what the pain points were. I assembled a team across L&P to help solve the issues, and our process changes resulted in annual savings of approximately $1M+ for the company.  

The second enhancement relates to standardizing accounting processes for Home Furniture. Standardization allows team members to easily cover for each other when there is a personal emergency, makes process changes easier because the team is executing the task the same way, and helps reviewers find the information they need to perform a good review. This work was already in process when I joined the Home Furniture team, but I found additional areas where we could improve our efficiency and accuracy in financial reporting.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Implementing procedures to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act were challenging because compliance guidance kept changing and there was no roadmap on how to comply. There was also stakeholder resistance to these changes, and it was difficult to ensure that we had minimal impact to our operating locations. I found that the best way to tackle these types of large-scale projects is to break them down into pieces, use the best information available, and overcommunicate.

Process changes cannot be completed in a vacuum. I try to involve subject matter experts whenever possible. I learned very early in my career that, when converting locations to L&P systems, you need to involve representatives from all areas of the process so that you do not have unintended consequences. A change that makes sense for one area may cause problems in another. 

You’ve served as a mentor at L&P to plant accountants. What has your mentoring experience been like, and why do you think it’s important to be a mentor?

Each plant accountant on my team wants different things out of their career. As a mentor, my job is to listen to what their career goals are and help them achieve those goals – whether that’s progressing to a more advanced role or learning more advanced accounting processes. It’s very rewarding to see individuals achieve a career milestone or grasp a complicated accounting concept that they thought they couldn’t grasp.

I’ve benefited from some outstanding mentors – like Bill Weil, Joe Franklin, Megan Dawson, and Mike Carter – who have helped shape my career at L&P and enhanced my understanding of the manufacturing environment. I think it’s important to be a mentor so that there is someone who can be a sounding board for problem solving, help with identifying career opportunities, and be a source of technical knowledge. I also learn from our plant accountants!