Introducing Finance: Bess Landolt and Chris Peper

A lot has changed in UVAFinance in the past few years (understatement!). There are many new faces, changes to the organizational structure, and lots of differences in the way we do our jobs. When remote and hybrid work is added into the mix, it's easy to become unsure about which department does what and who works where.

Introducing UVAFinance is a recurring blog feature created to introduce our team to our team, a couple of members at a time. Every other week, we'll present readers with two team members to get to know. To understand how these colleagues are situated within the greater UVAFinance structure, check out this resource on the UVAFinance website. (Keep in mind that it's not an org chart, but rather a map of what functions of central finance exist in which general areas.)

Let's go!


Bess Landolt, Solution Center Payroll Specialist

What do you do as a Solution Center Payroll Specialist?

I review inquiries that come to Payroll for issues that need to be resolved, and then I collaborate with other departments or others in Payroll to ensure that we take care of the concern as efficiently and quickly as possible. Though many inquiries begin with us, it “takes a village” to make sure all pieces of an employee record are in place for proper payment.

Who do you work with on a regular basis?

The Payroll team has a lot of cross-over with HR, including the Compensation team, Benefits team, and the Talent Support group. We also work directly with employees or departments to guide them in the needed steps to resolve a problem or to connect them with those who can best assist them

What seasons are busiest, or what rhythms exist in your job?

Every week, there is at least one pay group that is being paid, so there is no real slowdown for the Payroll team. Some weeks, we have as many as 4 payrolls in progress, plus additional off-cycle payments for special cases. The start of the semester can be a bit busier than usual with newly hired employees coming aboard, but the weeks fly by each year because we are busy every week.

What might surprise people about the work you do?

People might be surprised that we have a relatively small team, but we process thousands of payments for over two billion dollars annually. We merged 3 payroll groups when transitioning to the Workday payroll platform (the Medical Center’s payroll team, the Academic payroll team, and the University Physician’s group payroll team.) Though we have some presence in the office each week, we have largely been a remote operation since 2020.

What do you like best about working in UVAFinance?

UVA Finance has a wonderful group of people working in it. Everyone is kind, supportive, and helpful. I appreciate our focus on being collaborative partners and our recent work using the DISC analysis tool to help us all understand our own and others’ communication styles. 

How do you connect your work with the UVAFinance values?

These efforts to build a better understanding of our teammates and be collaborative both within Finance and outside of our own department help us to better serve the finance needs of the University.

Chris Peper, Director of Budgets and Planning

What do you do as the Director of Budgets and Planning?

I always feel like this is both the easiest and hardest question to answer. In short, as the Director, of Budgets & Planning OFP&A, I help folks with their budget planning and execution. More specifically, I collaborate with units across the Academic Division to assemble the institution-wide budget and multi-year financial plan from the unit level up to the larger institutional perspective. I also help initiate OFP&A’s change efforts in budgeting and planning in partnership with the Academic Division units, working with them to improve the overall quality of the annual budgets and multi-year financial plans, improve the quality of the budget conversations with leadership, and reduce duplication and waste in OFP&A and unit processes.

In executing that role, I engage with internal and external stakeholders to provide objective, accurate, and timely information, analyses, and decision-support tools while ensuring a high degree of transparency, collaboration, and compliance.

If that sounds a lot like a job description, you’re not wrong.

Who do you work with on a regular basis?

Within UVA Finance, OFP&A engages regularly with the Business Intelligence, Financial Accounting & Reporting, and Treasury teams. The Workday FDM is much more apparent than the Oracle GL/GA accounting system we converted from, so routine collaboration with these teams has been essential to enhance understanding of the financial data and help units solve issues and answer questions associated with the conversion. Working closely with these teams has also helped OFP&A (and vice versa) develop our understanding of university accounting and state financial reporting requirements, and the interface of that information with budget and planning and managerial reporting.

Additionally, each member of the OFP&A team has their respective unit budget assignments and Reshma Gali (OFPA Budget Analyst) and I partner to work with several schools (Arts and Sciences, Education, & Data Sciences), the Provost’s Office and its reporting units, including the Vice President for Research, and the Miller Center.
What seasons are busiest, or what rhythms exist in your job?

Honestly, it’s been busy all year round since the Workday conversion and update to Adaptive Insight 3.0, but typically, OFP&A is busiest during the annual budget process, which is from late August through early June. The budget process ramps up as we approach the unit submission deadline (1st week of February) and continues with budget analysis and unit budget meetings until the budget is formally approved by the BOV in early June.
What might surprise people about the work you do?

What surprises me (and probably most UVA finance professionals) is how we’ve all incorporated words like “debit” and “credit” into our daily vernacular since conversion to Workday. That said, I really do like the new system. For sure it’s been a big adjustment, but that’s true of any ERP conversion. But I really like the transparency of the new FDM and the transactional efficiencies in Workday. Without question, I have gained a deeper understanding of university fund accounting, and the flow of funds within the University. Much of that is also due to coming from a school finance position into a central role, but the new system has helped expand my knowledge considerably.
What do you like best about working in UVAFinance?

I really like my OFP&A team. It’s a solid collection of personalities, interests, and skills and we complement each other’s abilities well. Consistent collaboration with the other UVA Finance areas and units in the field is also a bonus of my role. All these interactions contribute to ideals that are important to me in the workplace: collaboration, problem-solving, identifying & implementing efficiencies, learning, continuous improvement, and service. Combining all that with being able to work with a strong finance leadership team and daily interaction with a variety of different business models within the university (auxiliaries, schools, research institutes, administrative units) is why I like my job. 

How do you connect your work with the UVAFinance values?

At the core, I want to ensure that I exhibit qualities that demonstrate I’m a genuine, valued, and trusted partner within the university finance community. A bit of great and good if you will.

UVAFinance Mission & Values / UVAFinance Organizational Structure / Past Introductions can be found on our site under "Resource Shelf"

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