May 2019 Member Spotlight - Perla Hanna

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Length of FEI membership: New Member
 
Work email: perla-hanna@hotmail.com
 
Work phone number: (813) 424-3219
 
Tell us a little bit about your career, educational/professional background and how you got to where you are today. 
 
I graduated from Binghamton University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Upon graduation, I was hired by Russell Reynolds Associates, a leading executive recruiter firm, as an entry level accountant. The firm was getting ready to open new offices in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, and I spoke Spanish fluently and had knowledge of Portuguese. I started working with the new offices immediately, and that was the start of my career in international finance.
 
Through my time at Russell Reynolds, I was instrumental in opening and setting up many international and domestic offices along with closing them, if necessary. I became the Latin America and Canada legal, tax and accounting expert and got involved in the restructuring of the Asia Pacific department. My most recent role as Finance Director of Americas allowed me to work with the CFO and other senior finance leaders on financial planning and analysis and on moving the business forward.
 
What is one piece of information you wish someone had told you when you first started your finance career?
 
Trust your gut. Sometimes your gut remembers (or figures out) something your head hasn’t yet.
 
What personality traits and intangible qualities do you look for when recruiting new talent?
 
Many skills can be taught at a job, but you can’t teach someone to care. I look for a strong work ethic including integrity. The positive attitude and values of all members of the team are important to a positive work culture.
 
How did you discover your passion for finance?
 
My passion for finance began when I discovered my passion for math and numbers. I moved to the United States from Brazil when I was 7 years old and spoke no English. I would get pulled out of class for a few hours a day to work with a tutor. The rest of the time, I would sit in class and not understand most of what was being said. My teacher quickly discovered that I could easily understand math worksheets as there were no language skills needed.   She would keep me busy for hours by giving me math work to do. With numbers, I didn’t feel overwhelmed or confused. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed working with numbers and get excited when I can apply this knowledge to tackle a finance challenge. 
 
What are some of your personal hobbies outside of finance?
 
Last year, l learned to play Mahjong and really enjoy the challenge of the game. I like to bake and my favorite is making and decorating cakes for my children and friends. I also enjoy spinning and taking walks.