Happy Birthday Full Stack Modeller

Full Stack Modeller has just celebrated its two-year anniversary, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on our journey to date and what we have planned for the future

What started off as various ideas for a financial modelling course has grown into something quite different, and special (in my opinion).

My co-founders and I set Full Stack up with one particular idea in mind. It took each of us well over a decade of front line, bumpy, stress-inducing experience to reach a stage where we felt we were "good" at what we did. There's always more to learn, but I remember my early years as a modeller being intense, deeply frustrating at times, but enormously rewarding (I can say that now with the benefit of hindsight).

We believed almost all of the key lessons we'd learned along the way could be taught in a structured and comprehensive programme, which would take some time to complete… but nowhere near a decade!

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So the Full Stack Modeller membership is our alternative training route for finance professionals who are serious about transforming their skills. We bring you in for a year initially, set you off on our award-winning accreditation programme that covers Excel mastery, financial modelling, data visualisation & analytics, lots of soft-skills work, and we support you every step of the way. You have opportunities to put your training into practice with our community challenges, and you can lean on the global network of modellers we've built up since we started whenever you like.

Two years ago, all of this was just an idea. Today, it's very much a reality. We've seen more than 350 members join us either individually or as part of their wider finance team, and our members tell us all the time how much they've developed since they joined us. Members have gained huge promotions, tackled daunting projects they never thought they'd be able to deliver, and built connections with other members who have become valued partners and friends.

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Here are some of the most significant lessons I have learned since we started:

1. A community is hard to build, but it is a true differentiator if it has genuine engagement and value. 

I'm so happy with the activity I see in our community platform. I could share countless examples of members asking for support and getting it within a day or two from other members halfway around the world. What makes it special is the range of experience brought to the table by our members, from all over the world. I learn something new almost every week from something a member posts or answers in our community platform.

2. We're not actually a financial modelling training course provider

Ok, we are that… but that's not all we are, and it turns out many companies aren't that concerned with this element of our training.

We've seen teams from some of the largest and most recognisable companies in the world join us and specifically ask for more Excel, data mastery and data visualisation training, and less of the financial modelling training. We've listened, and we've even got an accreditation path that skips advanced financial modelling altogether.

I'd say our training is now very much suited to your typical FP&A team as well as pure financial modellers. Some finance professionals just don't need to build or manage complicated three statement models with multiple tranches of debt… and you know what, that's ok!

3. We're all different. That’s a good thing.

I have a particular way of modelling. So do my co-founders. Our approaches are not the same (although they are similar). We do not, as part of our training approach, preach that our members should build models exactly how we do. Our key message is to look at what we present to you, look at other options available to you (which we are open about) and then go with a modelling approach that works for you and your team.

I'm so happy we took this position when we started. I see small pockets of experienced modellers berating other experienced modellers (usually on LinkedIn… sometimes on Reddit) for daring to do something in a different way. The use of Named Ranges is a classic example of a topic that seems to get people really wound up. The truth is that there are many ways to build reliable models and to reach solutions, and more than one of those ways are actually very good. Honestly, there are more important things in life to lose sleep over…

4. Some elements of live training can add real value

Sometimes intense, live training days are extremely inefficient. Your students burn out halfway through the day, and often end up remembering less than half of what they were taught. Our standard annual membership costs less than many of these one or two day live training courses, which is bonkers really; 12 months of accredited training and active support for less than the price of a couple of days of live training!

There are some benefits to live training though, and we’ve had plenty of requests for more of a blended approach.

To cater for this, we’re going to be rolling out a fantastic series of live bootcamps in 2023. Students attending our bootcamps will gain access to our training and community platform for a period of time after their live sessions come to an end, giving them plenty of opportunities to test out their new skills with us.

We'll kick off in early 2023 with our Excel Mastery bootcamp, and places will be limited. You can register your interest here to ensure you’re notified when we release the tickets. 

Confidence

To close, with two years of Full Stack experience behind me now, I’m laser-focused on that word “confidence” for 2023. 

Yes, I want Full Stack members to become excellent technical modellers, but I also want them to be confident, thoughtful, self-aware professionals who understand the importance of stepping back and seeing the bigger picture, building relationships, and of actually listening to alternative points of view.

That focus will apply to our bootcamp students as much as it will our full members. I think half of the battle for anyone trying to advance in their career is an internal one; believing you're capable of stepping up, and really putting yourself in the firing line whilst being accountable for your decisions. I hope what we continue to build at Full Stack helps our members with that battle as much as it does the technical one.

I look forward to connecting with many of you next year.

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