A Day in the Life of a Finance Director: Dianna Honeywell, City of Diamond Bar
July 13, 2018 – Caroline Bruister
Government Finance Directors have broad authority and responsibility. Their financial knowledge is essential in ensuring citizens get the most out of their tax money and the entity operates in a smooth manner. They are truly at the heart of government.
We had the opportunity to spend one day with City of Diamond Bar’s Finance Director Dianna Honeywell. It is truly amazing what she is able to accomplish from departmental finances to crochet and drought tolerant landscaping!
What does a typical day look like?
7:00 AM: I am a very driven person, I always have been, and that drives me to get out bed every morning! When I get up I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
8:00 AM: Arrive at the office. I look at the city bank balance online and download the daily statement of activity while sipping on my vegan protein shake. I figure out the cash flow and any investment portfolio activity.
10:00 AM: I keep the budget pulled up on one of my monitors at all times. I often have questions about purchasing and invoices, so it’s very helpful to be able to remind people what they said they were going to buy with the money in a particular account. The level of detail in the system vs. a printed budget document is very important when dealing with these issues.
11:00 AM: Discuss various issues with cross-departmental employee. This is the best part of my day when people from all different departments come to my office seeking an answer to their question. We talk through it, brainstorm and come up with a plan. I like being able to interact with people, see what their challenges are, and help them solve their issues. Being part of a small city, you wear so many different hats you get to work with everyone! It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
12:00 PM: Quick lunch in the kitchen. Sometimes I read or watch a bit of TV to unwind.
1:00 PM: Project management to stay on top of the city’s priorities. I have a large glass vision board in my office. I use it to keep track of tasks that I must complete during the month, longer term projects I would like to accomplish during the fiscal year, and other miscellaneous items like audits, council meeting items and policies that I need to update.
8’ x 6’ white board that takes up her whole wall
2:00 PM: No day is the same especially at a smaller agency! Depending on who needs my assistance. I am a working manager that is in the trenches with part-time recreation workers to front line staff to other department directions.
3:00 PM: Best Practice Tips: When I need guidance or best practices during the day, I usually look at the GFOA website first for the “letter of the law” info but my best information usually comes from my peers at CSMFO. I can put a question out on the list serve and I instantly get so much awesome feedback. We are all dealing with the same sort of issues and what seems like constant implementation of new regulations. So many times I have been able to get a policy or an RFP sent to me so I don’t have to recreate the wheel. I can take what someone else has done and customize it for my City’s needs. I have done the same for others. It’s so amazing that I have such a great network of smart people available at my fingertips.
5:00 PM: I organize my desk and prioritize my paperwork for the next day. The “must do” items physically go in front of me so I don’t lose track of them. The “nice to get to” items go behind on the credenza.
6:00 PM: I enjoy working in my drought tolerant yard. I designed it and put it together. Now I am fine tuning and sculpting it into my Zen zone. I also enjoy the beach, hiking the trails around where I live and, believe it or not, crocheting (and I taught my best friend how to crochet last year).
8:00 PM: To unwind, watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette is great because it’s so ridiculous and it makes me laugh after a long day at work. I have girlfriends over every Monday, and we have a running commentary throughout the entire show. And there’s wine.
What is the greatest challenge you face?
Most often my greatest challenge is not having enough time in the day to accomplish what I would like to. Working for a smaller City has its challenges such as wearing a lot of different hats. One hour I may be the Purchasing Manager. The next hour I could be the Budget Analyst. I am sometimes even the Parking ticket dismisser!
What is your favorite book?
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I have a 4x6 picture in front of my computer monitors at work with a list and explanation of each of the Four Agreements so I can remember to keep myself centered.
If finance directors had a theme song, what would it be?
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor - great for a dance in Vegas or to get you through budget season!
What is the one piece of advice you’d give to new finance people in government?
Learn all you can about all of the different operations in the agency. Knowledge about other areas in the agency helps you do your job better now and it will set you up for future success. It is not just about the debits and the credits.
What drew you to being a finance director?
I think becoming a finance director was the natural course of my life. I started in the private sector then took a year off when I had my daughter. When I went back to work, temping was the best option and I worked at a water district as my first municipal finance job. I went on an interview many years ago for a position as an accountant in a City. After getting the job I learned that one of the women on the interview panel told the hiring Finance Manager that I would be a finance director someday. I guess it planted a seed in my head and I made it happen for myself. I am always interested in learning new things to keep my job fun. Moving up through the various positions in the Finance department kept me interested.
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