Employee Spotlight: Rania Sambar, Director, Financial Projects & Client CFO

Welcome to the Apparatus Spotlight series, where we take a moment to highlight members of our diverse and talented team, share a little bit about their role in our organization, and find out what they enjoy most about working at Apparatus. To kick off this series, we spoke to Rania Sambar, Director, Financial Projects & Client CFO!

What’s your current role with Apparatus?

By title, Director, Financial Projects & Client CFO, but I would say my role is really serving nonprofits as a solid fiscal partner. My focus is financial success so that organizations can carry out their mission and keep their eye on the larger vision so that together we can have a thriving, sustainable organization.

How long have you been with us?

I had to count the other day—it’s almost been 7 years now!

What do you like most about working at Apparatus?

[laughs] Am I allowed to be tacky and quote Aristotle? Because I really think with our group, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve worked with most of the team, and everyone has different insights and backgrounds and strengths and experience and so being able to collaborate or go to someone for their knowledge… I like that we have this little inner circle. I would say that’s my favorite part. 

How has your career grown since you’ve been with Apparatus?

Different clients give you different experiences, and I feel like I understand this industry a lot more. I think I’m really passionate about learning and I have a lot more to learn, but I think there has been this progression with Apparatus, I would say now I’m in a space where I’m figuring out, ‘what else am I good at?’ or ‘what else do I want to do?’

You’re going to be working on something in the coming weeks that’s along the lines of financial health assessments & analyses for nonprofits. Tell us a little bit about that. 

More recently I’ve been involved in more project-based work than ongoing [financial] work, which I really like. I’m working with an organization for three to six months on something very specific, and one of those things is a financial management survey that Bob [Seestadt, Chief Client Officer at Apparatus] has put together and working to refine. We’re still learning from the process, but it’s proven to be super valuable so far.

The role that I’m stepping into is more project-focused and doing this whole assessment of ‘Where do you stand governance-wise? With your financial reporting? With your policies and procedures or internal controls?’ And how can we get our clients to that golden standard or think about things that are important but not urgent?

Changing up from the business side of things, what’s something most people don’t know about Rania?

I’ve had no formal education in English. My parents always spoke to me in Arabic and then I was put in French schools and all of my subjects were in French. So, until I was 11 or so, I didn’t really have any formal education in English and, while I do consider English my first language now, my internal thoughts or when I count in my head, it’s in French.

With everything we’ve experienced in this past year—COVID and all—what do you like to do for fun or to relax and find yourself again?

If I can plan my fun, I would say I love to travel. Any opportunity—whether it’s a short weekend trip or I can take a couple of weeks off. That’s my favorite thing: putting myself in experiences that challenge me or push my boundaries. On a day-to-day basis, I would say anything creative. I love anything where I can be creative, whether it’s cooking or if I can do a little project in the house. We’ve been renovating and I love the design process, so any chance where I can cut out the designer or the middleman, and I’m like ‘I’ll just do it.’ I take that on because I think it’s really fun!

You mentioned traveling. As travel restrictions continue to lift, any destinations in mind? 

This past year, we haven’t left the country—we’ve done small trips, especially hiking trips or trips where we can be outside, but we haven’t been anywhere new that feels different—different language, different culture. So with things loosening up, we are going to Croatia, and that’s something we’ve always wanted to do. What’s interesting about Croatia is the landscapes are so different—there’s the city, they have some hiking trails, they have beautiful beaches. We’re going to get a lot in one trip, I hope. It’ll make up for the last couple of years!