CFO THOUGHT LEADER

CFO THOUGHT LEADER

CFO THOUGHT LEADER brings you first hand accounts of CFOs who are driving change within their organizations. Our interviews capture their actions so that you can learn what might work for your organization. In addition to their company history we share the career journey of our spotlighted guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful?

Episodes

August 7, 2022 40 min

When Peter Walker looks back on his career, he never hesitates to highlight “the big asks,” or those times when he asked a boss to “take a chance” on him. One such instance occurred when he asked his CEO to sponsor his studies as he pursued an executive MBA on nights and weekends at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

“He said ‘Yes,’ and the degree really flipped my brain from being that of an accountant to that of a bi...

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Michael Sumruld recalls that after investing 10 of his finance career–building years in oil field services giant Baker Hughes, he found a deep fog settling on the career path before him. Unlike the case with BH engineers—who could always be confident of being able to place a foot on the next rung of an ever-present career ladder—the climb upward for finance executives was becoming less and less visible.

Or at least such was the cas...

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Brett & Jack discuss how the economy's is sending the hiring environment mixed signals and how the inefficiencies of the recruitment function continue to be a drag on industry aspirations for building a more productive workforce.

This episode features the workforce insights and commentary of CFO Adam Swiecicki of Brex, CFO Manish Sarin of Sprinklr, CFO Jason Keen of Mills Nebraska, and CFO Komal Misra of Starry

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As the 32-year-old CFO of Brex, Adam Swiecicki has a professional narrative unpopulated by the tales of economic and business hijinks that many of our CFO guests share.

Instead, Swiecicki’s forward-looking delivery seems intent on making a clean break from the CFOs of the past, whose career lessons frequently have involved the same one or two finance constituencies.  

“I just realized that there is a broad ecosystem of people whom ...

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Just where and how Glenn Hopper came to acquire his finance skillset exposes an organizational dysfunction to which no small number of finance leaders have likely contributed.

As a product manager for a small telecommunications firm, Hopper was asked by the vice president of marketing to begin giving presentations at a recurring management meeting regarding the allocation of marketing dollars and their impact on his specific produc...

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Steve and Jack discuss how pricing strategy has increasingly become top of mind for finance leaders as businesses become more responsive to customer behaviors, and Steve reflects on the virtues of time travel and how by asking finance leaders to reflect on their past experiences we enjoy a front row seat to view those experiences as they happen. Featuring commentary and FP&A insights from Planning Aces: CFO Mike Milotich of Mar...

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Looking back at the early years of his finance career, David Bedell recalls being frustrated when a business unit leader remained leery about the merits of a potential deal.

“I had done all of the analysis and was convinced that it would make a lot of money for the company, but I just couldn’t figure out how to convince him,” explains Bedell, who spent the balance of his early career years at software developer Intuit, where he adv...

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When Kabir Ahmed Shakir first arrived inside the CFO office at Tata Communications, the former Microsoft India CFO quickly determined that there was one person above all others who held sway over the company’s maturing transformation plans.

“The person who is actually giving pricing to our customers needs to know how much cash we make on Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3,” explains Shakir, whose 2-year CFO tenure has spanned a period in w...

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It was the type of assignment that Mike Milotich had been awaiting for most of his career. An innovative product team at American Express had just launched a promising new offering, and Milotich had been assigned to the group to help “optimize its day-to-day decision making”.

“I arrived when it had been live for only maybe 4 to 6 weeks, and all of the traditional metrics indicated that it was a runaway success,” explains Milotic...

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Last winter, when China ordered tens of millions of people back into a pandemic lockdown, executives inside the $170 billion automotive aftermarket parts industry took a deep breath.

Jeff Shepherd, CFO of aftermarket giant Advance Auto Parts, says that the possibility of another China shutdown had just not been part of Advance’s procurement calculus. Still, parts “in stock” at Advance stores during 2022 have dropped only a few perc...

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It was nightly business conversations at his parents’ dinner table that first led Prashanth Mahendra-Rajah to consider alternatives to business when it came to building a career.

“As most small business owners do, my parents worked all the time—and as with most small businesses, things could at times be financially challenging,” explains Mahendra-Rajah, who vividly recalls business rent increases, outstanding receivables, and the d...

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Even after serving in multiple CFO roles and spending 10 years on Wall Street, Manish Sarin still marvels at the plus-size experience that he acquired in the mid-1990s when he worked for Price Waterhouse as a financial advisor in its Nairobi office in Kenya, East Africa.

At the time, Sarin recalls, an abundance of available funding from the World Bank and IMF was enticing growing numbers of state-owned business in the region to pri...

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When Mark George first joined Otis Elevator’s accounting team back in the late 1980s, he found fixed asset accounting to be different from what he expected.

Says George: ”We had to run around the company and put barcodes on any new piece of furniture that the company had purchased.” What’s more, George tells us, he roamed the corridors as a deputy in the accounts payable department, “punching A/P vouchers” and acquiring any necessa...

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Looking back on her career as a corporate finance executive, Angela Pierce says that the call of leadership arrived at a moment of unvarnished frustration.

Sixteen years ago, when the management of Level 3 Communications was expressing a keen interest in acquiring Pierce’s then-company, Broadwing Corporation, it was not the first time that Pierce found herself sitting across from Level 3 corporate development executives.   

In fact...

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Among the career milestones that CFOs prefer to highlight for us during our discussions, there’s little question that examples of driving business growth are an ongoing favorite.

However, for Jason Keen, who built his finance career inside midsize construction firms, management’s growth goals have always needed to be mindful of a company’s organizational culture.

Inside the construction realm, where multigenerational, family-owned ...

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Steve and Jack discuss how growing concerns about a possible economic recession are helping fuel CFO aspirations for creating a more agile finance function, and Steve reflects on how different career experiences and backgrounds influence how CFOs lead and make business decisions. Featuring commentary and FP&A insights from Planning Aces: CFO David Barnes of Trimble, CFO Komal Misra of Starry, Inc. and CFO Jason Keen of Mills Ne...

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Generally, when legendary CEO Roger Enrico wasn’t happy, just about every PepsiCo executive from junior grades on up knew about it. So it was that when David Barnes was told he would be presenting to Enrico on a subject known to inflame the CEO’s ire, he knew that his presentation—one way or the other—would be career-defining.

“Enrico was known to be very impatient with those who would present a bunch of facts but offer no insights...

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Among the many strategic changes that finance leader Danielle Murcray has helped to put in motion during her multi-chapter CFO career, perhaps none better reveals her mantle as a strategic leader than the move by cybersecurity firm AttackIQ to adopt a 100 percent–remote U.S. workforce.  

With the arrival of the pandemic, Murcray—like many of her CFO peers—became laser-focused on the company’s finance liquidity and operational effic...

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When Komal Misra, a software engineer turned asset manager, decided that it was time once again to make a career change, she found herself staring at a computer screen filled with stocks from various portfolios that were being traded based not on business fundamentals but larger macro-driven trends.

“It got me to thinking: Here I had invested so much time in understanding these businesses and why they were good or great investments...

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