Suzy Reese Balances Budget Through Constant Collaboration

Suzy inspects product at our Atlanta DC in Dacula, Georgia. 'The leaders and associates at our Dacula and Jacksonville distribution centers are my primary customers,' she says. 'Financials for a company our size are complex, so I’m here to make sure everything makes sense to them. I support our sales team, operations team, and inventory and purchasing team… I’ve been a part of the sites for many years, so they would probably say they report to me, but really, they lead me. They’re making all the moves every day, and I help coordinate some of those actions and decisions.'

Nursing and finance may seem like two totally different worlds. But for Suzy Reese, a finance and planning manager based at our Atlanta distribution center in Dacula, Georgia, there’s a common thread that led her from one path to the other.

“My mom was a nurse, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” Suzy says. “But when I was face to face with patients during clinicals in my undergraduate program, I realized my sense of empathy was a little too strong for that work. I could literally feel their pain.”

Suzy has always loved numbers as well, so when she later got an opportunity to offer hands-on care and attention through finance — not exactly as she would have as a nurse, but still drawing on personal connections to support her colleagues — it was a natural fit.

“Our company has a lot of moving parts, and people often find math and budgets very intimidating,” Suzy says. “I'm always happy to spend a bit of extra time to work with them to understand the financial statements and make sure everything adds up at the end of the month.”

Image of Suzy, who has traveled to our Columbus and Meridian, Miss., Timberlands with our internal audit team to observe a cruising audit and participate in a woods tour.

Suzy traveled to our Columbus and Meridian, Mississippi, Timberlands with our internal audit team to observe a cruising audit and participate in a woods tour.


Your title is finance and planning manager. Tell us what you do.

Basically, my job is to make sure we’re not missing any opportunities to put money in the bank. I educate the East region Distribution team on the financial statements for our site and what key levers it takes to be profitable. I also help manage inventory, receivables and everything that goes into our financial statements.

I’m in the office at our Atlanta distribution center in Dacula three days a week, I work from home two days a week, and I travel to our distribution center in Jacksonville, Florida, at least four times a year.

What led you to choose this job?

I began my finance career within the auditing and mortgage departments of a major bank chain, but that industry felt unstable. Banks were always getting acquired by each other. So, in 1994, I started looking at other industries.

I started at the Atlanta Distribution Center as an administrative assistant. It was an attractive role because it was close to where I lived — I was a young mom at the time, so I really wanted to stay rooted. It turned out the role was a great fit. I went from wearing dresses in a very structured bank environment to wearing jeans and hard hats in our warehouses. And I had the opportunity to advance my career into finance, moving to credit analyst and then credit manager, then taking on my current role in 2001. My 30-year anniversary is coming up next year!

Tell us what your average day is like.

I run daily reports on stats like sales and inventory and then make sure we’re on track to stay within our budget estimates for the month. Things come up — for instance, equipment breaks down, material comes in short or damaged — and I adjust our books accordingly and look for ways to balance them. Some days, I do physical inventory work at warehouses. Sometimes I feel like a fixer more than anything else! The numbers go wrong, and I have to find the solution. I tweak something here and tighten something there, and everything comes back together.

I’m also a local team lead at both of my sites, which is a very safety-focused and detailed-oriented role. I’m involved in things like new employee training, budget meetings, safety reviews and identifying system gaps and goals to help maintain profitability at the sites.

Image of Suzy and her husband, Michael.

Suzy and her husband Michael "cruising our way through life on Carnival Cruise Lines."

What’s your favorite part of your job?

We root for each other to succeed. Our team probably spends more time together than we do with our families, so we get to know each other really well and try to build personal relationships. We encourage each other to be the best we can be at our jobs.

You must have some challenges. What are they?

Employee retention is a crucial factor in our success. It takes money, time and effort to train new employees, especially when it comes to safety practices and procedures. Our team is working hard to retain our people by making our company a great place to work, making sure safety is everyone’s first priority, and making sure everyone feels supported.

Tell us something about your job that might surprise people.

My job is more than just a bunch of math on a computer screen. It’s actually very social and interactive, requiring constant collaboration and conversations with people throughout the business. Sometimes we have to make compromises or find adjustments to make everything work.

Image of Suzy with three of her grandsons: Mikhai, Matthew and Myles.

Suzy with her three grandsons: Mikhai (12), Matthew (9), and Myles (10). 'They're one of the biggest reasons I wake up each day with a mission to succeed,' she says.

What advice would you give people who want a job like yours?

Find a mentor — particularly someone whose work ethic you really respect, and who displays a mastery of the work you want to do. Ask a lot of questions and observe them closely. Participate in companywide projects and share your aspirations during PMP reviews. The best way to learn is to be present and accountable and step out of your box. An easy way to do that is to attend events put on by Reflections of Color and our other Employee Resource Groups. These events are a great way to meet so many new people from all over the company and learn what they’re working on.

Tell us about your other interests. What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I got remarried about three years ago, right at the start of COVID. My husband and I love taking cruises and rooting for the Dallas Cowboys! We also spend a lot of time with family and friends. We cook out and spend time in the yard. My husband is lucky, because I love to cut the grass! I have a daughter and three grandsons who are 9, 10 and 12 years old, and they keep me on my toes and fill my heart with happiness. I’m a part of a sorority, and community service is a big part of that, so I volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and other organizations. I also foster kids. Just like with my own children and grandkids, I want to help people be the best they can be. It’s one of my most important motivations in life.