Jeannine Meo Altrogge likes to think of herself as a people person—a skill set not often characteristic of people in finance and accounting positions. But her decades in financial planning and analysis have put those people skills to great use, both in her prior work at AT&T and her current position as senior vice president of financial planning and analysis for Pennsylvania-based healthcare services company AmerisourceBergen Corporation (ABC).
Before ABC, Altrogge spent nearly twenty years in various AT&T businesses, including LSI, Lucent, Agere Systems, and others, mostly in finance roles. But the last two and a half years saw her spend her time in supply chain work, which taught her about not just allocation and distribution of components but also the value of communication and collaboration. “My favorite part was always the customer service aspect of it, the people side,” she says.
But after eighteen years at AT&T, she grew weary of the yearly layoffs that created an extremely competitive working environment, which dovetailed nicely with a friend’s suggestion to move on to ABC; and in 2010, she came on as director of financial planning and analysis.
While Altrogge was nervous at first to make such a big change, she looks back on it now as “the absolute best decision [she] ever made.” There, she found collaboration instead of competitiveness, her fellow team members working together to make a difference for the patients and practitioners who benefit from ABC’s services and solutions.
However, Altrogge’s introduction to the job wasn’t easy: she had to build a team from scratch in the wake of the departing finance head whose position she was filling. Luckily, her experience working across so many areas of AT&T’s business came in handy; she knew how to talk to people from different departments and disciplines. “I got everyone together to work out what was missing in the planning processes, and figured out how to move forward,” she says.
“Many people think of finance as just numbers, but I see it as a way to prompt [ABC] to thoughtfully plan for a future that achieves our purpose.”
Altrogge also had to create a consistent cash flow model for a business that initially lacked one, which she accomplished with the aid of a complex Excel modeling tool of her own design. The tool integrates profit & loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statements to model long-term financial plans and M&A due diligence analyses. The data is now used by the CEO and CFO for board presentations and approvals.
“ABC has really become more complex, which has driven the way my role in the organization has grown,” Altrogge notes.
The key, she says, was her gift for communication and collaboration. “I have no authority over these different departments,” Altrogge says, “so it’s all about influencing.” Instead of calling department heads with bad news, Altrogge learned to problem-solve by framing issues in ways her recipient could understand, which helped streamline processes at ABC.
One of the biggest projects Altrogge is currently working on at ABC is enterprise performance management, taking a holistic approach to forecasting and SEC reporting on both the planning and consolidation sides of the equation. “Over the years, we’ve had many acquisitions, but we haven’t spent much time integrating them into our systems,” she admits. Rather than act as “serial problem solvers,” she’s worked to move from applying Band-Aids on big infrastructural problems to rebuilding more elegant solutions from the ground up.
Among these solutions is Altrogge’s initiative to create an accessible, cloud-based system that would be easy to use for everyone at ABC, which mitigates the risk of losing information should team members leave. This involved adopting the popular Oracle cloud-based system, a systemic transformation of their planning tools which has been a full-time job for Altrogge over the past two years. “It’s been a ton of work, but it’s going to be well worth it in the end,” she says, as they predict they’ll have all reporting coming out of the new system by September 2020.
Rich Schmitt, managing director and enterprise performance management leader at Huron Consulting Group, reinforces the collaboration and partnership Altrogge has brought to the program.
“A cloud transformation at an organization as big as ABC requires not only strong leadership and vision but constantly keeping the project and business teams motivated and focused,” Schmitt says. “Jeannine’s ability to continually bring the internal and external teams together despite the many challenges of a large program and the ongoing remote work environment has been critical to realizing the value of this ABC investment.”
All of Altrogge’s hard work, she notes, is tied into ABC’s mission statement to create healthier futures. “Handling getting drugs to pharmacies sounds simpler than the semiconductor industry,” Altrogge says of her career path. “But it’s not as simple as it sounds: there are numerous commercial units and corporate functions and so many nuances.”
While her work doesn’t personally touch the end-user, Altrogge sees the finance side of ABC’s work playing a huge part in stimulating innovation and driving collaboration. “Our goal is elevating the services and experience we offer our customers and the patients that they serve,” she explains. “Many people think of finance as just numbers, but I see it as a way to prompt [ABC] to thoughtfully plan for a future that achieves our purpose.”
Boards with a Brighter Purpose
In addition to her work at AmerisourceBergen Corporation, Jeannine Meo Altrogge spends much of her free time sitting on boards of organizations that do good both inside and outside of her organization. First, there’s ABC’s own Associate Assistance Fund, which helps employees experiencing financial hardship. “It’s a great feeling knowing we’re helping our employees through hard times,” Altrogge says. “That’s my favorite meeting every week.”
She also sits on the board of StudentsCare, a nonprofit that matches college student volunteers with pediatric patients to brighten their hospital stay. This cause resonates particularly with Altrogge, who remembers long stays in the hospital with her children when they were seeking medical treatment. “I’ll never forget seeing one critically ill child playing with a toy and seeing something as simple as that making him smile,” she notes.