Meet Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year, Asslam Umar Ali

edited March 2023 in Blog

Meet Asslam Umar Ali (@Asslam) — our Anaplan 2022 Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year, and Manager, Financial Performance Management with over 15 years of experience. Asslam currently manages the enterprise planning program, including the Center of Excellence, at Fortescue Metals Group. Asslam is passionate about Connected Planning and specializes in business-led transformation. He strongly believes in breaking down data silos, helping stakeholders with their financial vision, and envisages the digital evolution with evolving technologies to improve decision-making with a single source of truth and to close the loop between strategy to execution.

Asslam took time to share with the Anaplan Community more about his journey, the lessons he's learned, and the experience that led to him winning Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year.

“I envision a world of data-driven organizations. Being a Certified Master Anaplanner has helped me enable organizations to ask the right questions on how they can lower their operating costs, reduce risk, and create transparency in financial data.” – Asslam Umar Ali

Tune in to hear more about Asslam’s thoughts on the Certified Master Anaplanner program and the benefits it's brought him. (Transcript also available below.)

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Click "spoiler" to read the transcript


Hello everyone, my name is Asslam and it's great to be with you. I have an amazing opportunity to lead the largest Connected Planning ecosystem in Australia, including the Center of Excellence (CoE), with a very talented team. I'm really excited today to join you all to share my experiences, my journey, and my lessons of becoming the global Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year in 2022.

Since my post-grad MBA and over the last 15 years, I have worked in a range of industries, predominantly in data analytics, data modernization, and enterprise performance management. My goal is to leverage these experiences to develop and implement a truly Connected Planning organization. I choose to take a noble approach to Connected Planning. Starting with the customer first, understanding their business performance, and taking them on a transformation journey, enabling them to be a confident change ambassador, and embrace technology without resistance. 

Share with us your Master Anaplanner journey.

I always enjoy helping people utilize data and analytics to drive business value. Strangely, back in the days, technology solutions were complex and with a very long lead time. And even after implementation, there was clearly a disconnect between the technology and the business users.

When I was introduced to Anaplan in 2017, I got really perked with the whole solution, and I was able to realize how the solution would be a game changer for the business. First, the solution uses no code to low code, and its functions are equivalent to Excel functions, which means 90% of the business uses are covered.

So what I realized was a great opportunity with the solutions to have transformative results and also close the gap between the technology and the business users. After completing 10 training sessions on my friend's laptop, slowly the pieces started to fall into place for me. I got genuinely passionate with the whole solution and started pursuing different opportunities.

I've done the classic consultant life with Deloitte — traveling from the East coast to the West coast for an unplanned implementation. But certainly the curiosity of learning simplified models following DISCO methodology, learning our different ways of implementing solutions, and also reading David Smith's solutions on the Community kept me going in achieving my Master Anaplanner certification.

How has becoming a Certified Master Anaplanner impacted your career journey?

Definitely being a Certified Master Anaplanner has validated my experience and my Anaplan skills. It's proven to the employers that I have invested my time in expanding my expertise in achieving something which is valued in the industry. Suddenly, being a Certified Master Anaplanner has accelerated my career opportunities with multiple job offers. It's given me the opportunity to be a part of a global community network and learn and share with other organizations and expand my professional network. Finally, it's given me the opportunity to lead a digital transformation program at an enterprise level. 

Why is it important to have Certified Master Anaplanners involved in an organization?

I really reflect on Aaron Smith's message: it does not matter how great the product is, if the customer experience when they engage with it, is negative. A great product and great experience is not enough to have a successful outcome. We all know the secret ingredient is customer participation, which has a multiplied effect on the value of realization. This becomes very evident if you think about the internal customers — to enable them to have transformative results across the organization, a Certified Master Anaplanner becomes a critical role and plays a central stage to have that Connected Planning influence and impact.

I've often seen organizations making early decisions on models and solutions and later realizing the challenges from a Connected Planning and scalability perspective. But a Certified Master Anaplanner enables the bridging of this gap, engages the customer, takes them on a transformation journey, and advises them earlier in the process.

We often talk about breaking down data silos and silos processes. I believe that engaging a Certified Master Anaplanner in the Connected Planning journey enables organizations and prevents them from having siloed models on the platform.

What do you see most valuable in being a Certified Master Anaplanner?

I envision a world of data-driven organizations, where a Connected Planning platform supports the CFO office to drive a single source of truth for real-time planning and decision-making.

Certified Master Anaplanners are in the right position to streamline business processes and integrate technology with the right people. They act as a data chief to articulate required data fluency to senior executives, and required data governance across the organization. In the age of technology uncertainty, they take a leadership role to drive the digital transformation program and showcase the value of a data-driven organization. 


  • What a phenominal story of success and the benefits of being a Certified Master Anaplanner from 2022's Certified Master Anaplanner of the Year award winner @Asslam! Thanks so much for sharing your story and insights with us and the rest of the Anaplan Community!

  • Congratulations @Asslam with your award! And thanks for sharing your story!