They think we sit on top of a big pile of cash

February 26, 2021
Marco Bech Demontis, Senior Finance Business Partner at Milestone, is a young finance professional who was born and raised in a small town in Denmark. We were curious to hear about his background and how finance and technology go together.
“I’m born in the Esbjerg area, in the southwest of Denmark, to a Danish mother and an Italian father. My father decided to seek opportunities outside Sardinia, where he’s from, and came to Denmark some 35 years ago. That’s where he met my mother and the rest is history,” says Marco and adds that he and his Danish family try to visit his Italian relatives at least once a year.
“Solving complex problems is a great motivator”
Marco grew up on the countryside, in a small town with less than 100 inhabitants. “I worked as a paperboy, and then when I was thirteen years old I started working at a farm in our neighborhood,” he says, and explains that this was a natural step for teenagers in the area.

“It’s a very educational experience where you learn what real hard work is but can also enjoy a special kind of freedom. I got a lot of responsibility at the farm; I was driving some big machines considering my age! It was all so much fun and I was proud that someone would trust me with such big machines, which taught me that by doing well you earn trust and responsibility.”

Today, Marco lives in Copenhagen with his wife, Pernille, and their two-year-old son, August. However, the family is soon to become bigger. “August will become a big brother in June as we are expecting a baby girl,” explains Marco and the excitement is clear in his voice.
Marco admits that having a growing family takes up a lot of time, but in his spare time he enjoys active pastimes such as football and hunting. “I also enjoy travelling and seeing the world but one of my favorite hobbies is kitesurfing,” Marco says, adding that he in fact went to Brazil in 2009 to train for the Danish kitesurfing championship.

After finishing high school, Marco studied at Aarhus School of Business. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2011, followed by a master’s degree from the same school a few years later. When asked about his motivation and the path he took to becoming a finance expert, he says:

“I have always been curious about how things work. So, helping people finding solutions and solving complex problems is a great motivator for me. Of course, the human body is one of the most complex things there is, so I actually wanted to become a doctor. So, I went through high school planning to become a doctor, focusing on physics, chemistry, math and the whole deal necessary to prepare for medical school. But after high school I realized I wasn’t ready for another seven years of sitting on the bench.”

He adds that he was tired of theory and reading. Not being the type to sit still, he wanted to get some real-life work experience — and study something complex with multiple options. That’s why he enrolled in business school.
I’ve always had a great interest in business, both from the perspective of growing a business, but also because at the end of the day business is mainly about people and behavior.
“A part of the role is to invent my own role”
When it came to choosing a master’s degree, Marco decided to study Finance and International Business (FIB). He also did one semester as an exchange student at EMLYON Business School in France.

“FIB was the most popular masters at Aarhus Business School, but the focus of the program is divided so it’s 50% finance, 25% strategy and 25% marketing. It’s a broad education where I expected to learn a bit of everything and by doing so open many doors for the future,” he says, adding that the program lived up to his expectations and has proven useful in his role as a senior finance business partner for Milestone’s sales and marketing division.

But what does Marco actually do at work?

“It’s a bit funny, but when talking to people outside finance I have the impression that they think we sit on top of a big pile of cash and do nothing other than count and ensure all the numbers add up,” Marco answers with a laugh.
I think this caricature explains the old, classic finance role but the finance industry is moving fast towards proactive value creation.
“A concrete example of this is that at Milestone we’ve recently started a finance business partner journey, with an external seven step course on how to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders — that is the business you work for — and find out what they need, what they don’t know they need, and how to be proactive with helpful insights.”
Marco believes that working in finance is changing towards being a data-driven, proactive role using all the data we have at hand today. Consequently, Marco doesn’t spend his days counting coins as some might think. On the contrary, he explains that as a finance business partner, no two days are the same for him.

“My days are usually very theme-based. I listen to the needs of my colleagues in sales and marketing and try to tailor-make solutions that fit those needs. A tailor-made solution could, for example, be making some straightforward overviews together with an analysis supporting complex strategic decision-making or some other data-driven, objective insights to solve the issues the business is facing,” he explains and adds: “So, depending on the needs of each day, my schedule can change very quickly!”

But he feels his role is also flexible: “A part of the role is to invent my own role. I need to find out what it is that the business needs to know, so I depend a lot on relations and listening to the business to find opportunities.

“I joined Milestone right before the pandemic and everything suddenly went online, which naturally made it harder to pick up on stakeholders’ challenges. But I couldn’t just sit on my hands, so I started looking into where we could expand the business, using new metrics for decision-making that Milestone hadn’t used before.”

Marco explains how Milestone’s focus on not becoming too bureaucratic allowed him to do the analysis he thought was best for the company. He presented his findings to the executive management team, and his ideas became the basis for the Milestone’s current geo-expansion.
I’m happy that I could contribute with new perspectives and how well it was received. During these times, it’s even more important than before to be creative and think out of the box — which is something that is encouraged and well received in Milestone.
“The biggest surprise is that there are no surprises!”
Having worked for an IT service provider for four years, Marco joined Milestone in January 2020. When asked why he decided to do so, Marco says that the main reason was the impact he felt he could make.
Milestone is a young company and has a high entrepreneurial spirit. To me it was appealing to join a company where I felt I could have a big impact and really be a part of shaping its future success.
Marco mentions that joining a new company always comes with a risk: “The premise from which you decided to take the job can be different from what you actually experience when you start working.”

However, that has not been the case at Milestone.

“I can honestly say that I’ve only been happy with what I’ve seen at Milestone. There are no big surprises — maybe that’s the biggest surprise!”

When asked what he thinks is the reason for this positive experience he says: “During these tough times, I really appreciate that Milestone has introduced many good initiatives to keep us all safe and happy — there is a strong focus on making sure my colleagues and I are happy.”
Marco also cites the flexibility along with Milestone’s global operations: “The work environment is very trustful, flexible and inspiring and you can really feel that everyone is trying to be and do the best they can.

“Milestone is a global company, so we work in different time zones, but we make it work. Sometimes you are very busy, but then you are also allowed to cool off during less busy periods. It’s of course a business environment but with time for family and a focus on personal balance. At Milestone we simply have inspiring leaders, great colleagues and a great culture!”
I would encourage everyone to join Milestone, it’s a business as any other workplace but there is a genuine focus on making daily life fun and inspiring and there’s a lot of very interesting projects going on right now with a constant focus on improvement.
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Gunnlaugur Bragi Björnsson
Communications Associate
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