Challenge Accepted

Kimberly Hendricks shares how her penchant for taking on challenges has led to serious growth at Hexcel

“Whether it’s a bankruptcy or breaking up a conglomerate,” says Kimberly Hendricks, “I’m drawn to challenging situations.”

The senior vice president, corporate controller, and chief accounting officer at Hexcel has over twenty-five years of experience steering public companies out of harm’s way, so much so that she isn’t sure what she would do with stability. Since coming to Hexcel in 2009, Hendricks has initiated changes in finance that stand to profoundly and fundamentally change the way finance operates at the advanced composites technology company. From streamlining processes to implementing a new ERP, Hendrick’s penchant for taking on a challenge has led to serious growth at Hexcel.

Prior to implementing Microsoft AX Dynamics, Hendricks says Hexcel was operating off two separate enterprise planning systems—one for operations stateside and the other for international operations. “With two different systems, we had to wait until month’s end to consolidate and run allocations,” Hendricks says. “We never really had good data until the end of the month.” It gave the finance team the feeling of flying blind, and Hendricks says shifting to Microsoft AX has allowed for a truly transformational impact on operations.

“We have real-time transactions, updates, and data,” Hendricks says. “Instead of waiting for weeks at a time, it’s right there in front of you.” “Real-time” is the name of the game when it comes to the operational and financial overhaul at Hexcel. Plant bottlenecks can be detected and addressed immediately—again, almost at the speed of occurrence. “Can you imagine the impact that has on efficiency?” Hendricks asks.

It’s also allowed Hexcel to optimize its end-to-end supply chain. “That optimization allows us to reduce our inventory levels, which ultimately ends up as a generation of cash flow,” Hendricks says. Hexcel’s vertically integrated structure requires the team to be able to see the demand flow between its sites to aid in on-time delivery, and this system provides that transparency.

“I really believed in myself and learned that I could take on about any task. That moving around and independence led me to being very bored with status quo.”

When it came to addressing the need for a new ERP, Hendricks says the finance and IT teams were unknowingly holding themselves hostage. “Our people are so absolutely brilliant that they had managed to transform Essbase, which is basically an Excel-based database, into a consolidation database,” Hendricks says. “But we had to write scripts for literally any function or process, and it was very manually intensive.” On the surface, though, the system appeared to cost no money to employ, and so the organization wasn’t too keen to invest in new consolidation software.

Hendricks was ultimately able to convince leadership to implement OneStream, and instead of having to manually manage an entire system, OneStream automatically keeps all functions synced. It’s literally eliminated an entire position in financial IT, and it’s also reset the waiting times on the consolidation process to, again, almost real-time.

The ERP implementation was an extensive and laborious process, but Hendricks repeatedly calls out the expertise of her own team in tackling such large-scale transformation. “There isn’t an obstacle that’s come their way that they haven’t been up to go above and beyond in overcoming and delivering,” she says. “We’ve never missed a deadline or even been at risk of being late because of their sheer willpower.”

Hendricks notes that this level of change is tough on any organization. So why has she repeatedly demonstrated a capacity for taking on situations that might send other CAOs running for the hills? The SVP moved virtually every two years from the time she was born. “I really believed in myself and learned that I could take on about any task,” Hendricks says frankly. “That moving around and independence led me to being very bored with status quo.”

That natural curiosity can be double-edged, Hendricks admits. “I guess you could say that I get involved in a gamut of issues,” she says with a laugh. “I am always willing to offer an opinion, a piece of advice, or just my general experience from issues ranging from complicated M&A transactions to building maintenance.”

It’s her willingness to get involved that keeps her phone ringing and those at Hexcel and beyond looking for her views on any number of issues. Hendricks knows that people feel comfortable coming to her to help find a solution. “If I ever get to the point where my phone stops ringing and I stop learning, I think I’ll know that it’s time to retire.”

The Ram Council

Kimberly Hendricks says she never would have imagined that she would have become involved with the Ram Council Foundation had it not been brought to her attention by her middle daughter. The organization, which promotes substance-free lifestyles and leadership opportunities for teens, has subsequently become an area of devotion for the CAO.

“I cannot imagine losing my own child to addiction, and if there is something I can do to help a parent to never have to experience that, I’ll do it in a heartbeat,” Hendricks says. The group has grown from twelve members to over one hundred out of a population of one thousand students at her daughter’s school.

UHY LLP recognizes Kimberly Hendricks, Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer at Hexcel Corporation for her extraordinary leadership and commitment to the success of the organization.