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?


October 1, 2023 59 mins

Of the different acquisitions with which Jason Leet became involved at ExactTarget of Indianapolis, Indiana, there’s little question that the seventh was the most impactful on his finance career.

As it turned out, this would also be his last acquisition—or perhaps we should say his last ExactTarget acquisition, given that this time it was ExactTarget itself that was being acquired.

In 2013, ExactTarget became not only the largest c...

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Brett and Jack draw parallels between the challenges faced by our three featured Planning Aces as they seek to optimize the talent resources and processes in their different organizations.

The pressure to align strategy and execution is increasing, and all three CFOs share their responses to these external pressures. Brett also touches on the adoption of AI in finance. With AI, the depth of analysis and speed of feedback are signif...

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Roughly 20 years ago, Neha Krishnamohan arrived as a college freshman on Duke University’s Durham, N.C., campus, intent on pursuing a career that would someday grant her the agency to develop a product or therapy capable of solving a healthcare problem.

Having grown up among family members with different careers in the medical field, Krishnamohan had inherited a deep interest in medicine—although she felt that her tendency to want ...

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It was late 2020 when Michelle Hook ended 17 years of fruitful career-building at Domino’s to accept a CFO appointment at fast casual restaurant chain Portillo’s.  

“The two things that I was looking for were to be passionate about a new brand and to feel a culture fit,” recalls Hook, who adds that she had long imagined someday leaving Domino’s to join a smaller company that she could help to grow.

“I just didn’t care about going t...

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Not unlike that of many of his CFO peers, Derrek Gafford’s career path has been shaped in part by geography—specifically, by having its origins in a city that was at once home to a state college, the corporate headquarters of a marquee company, and a Big Four accounting office populated with new college grads.

In Gafford’s case, the city was Boise; the college, Boise State; the marquee company, grocery giant...

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We are near the end of our discussion with CFO Svai Sanford when he permits us to unlock one last door to his past.

Unbeknownst to us, 20 minutes earlier, Sanford had handed us the key to its lock in the form of a short story.

The story had begun with Sanford receiving a job offer, to which he had replied, “Are you sure? I do not have any experience in this sector.”

His future boss had replied: “You will figure it out.”

At first, w...

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When Charly Kevers took his mentor’s advice and swapped a corporate development role at Hewlett-Packard for a tour of duty as a director of HP’s investor relations arm, he looked forward to tackling a variety of IR requisites, including crafting the messaging that follows a change at the top.

Two years and four HP CEOs later, Kevers exited HP knowing that his IR term (with its extra helping of CEO turnover) had afforded him a stint...

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Looking back, Jeff Coulter is not exactly certain how he landed a spot on a team tasked with designing and implementing the first-ever budgeting and reporting processes responsible for tracking Procter & Gamble’s marketing dollars on a single worldwide system.

“P&G had hundreds of disparate setups that we had to bring into one system globally,” explains Coulter, recalling the effort behind the information systems upgrade with SAP s...

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The year was 2015, but for Jeff Laborde, a seasoned finance leader kicking off his second C-suite tour of duty, it seemed as though the conference room that he had just entered had transported him back to 2005—or was it 1995?

Across the way, an executive who had noticed Laborde’s presence stopped the meeting and queried: “Jeff, what are you doing here? Why are you in my meeting?”

Caught by surprise and somewhat tongue-tied, Laborde...

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While the leadership journeys of many of our CFO guests began on an upper floor of a glass-and-steel skyscraper affording a wide-angle view of a cosmopolitan metropolis, that of Blackbaud CFO Tony Boor started at street level in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Less than an hour’s drive north of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces is home not only to the main campus of New Mexico State University but also to a c...

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Evan Goldstein tells us that it was at the end of another long day—after a week of long days—as he was walking to the parking lot adjacent to Genentech’s offices that he received a “gut punch.”

Becoming more self-aware of others is something that many finance leaders have told us that they have needed to lean into during their career, but few have shared with us the pivot to self-reflection as vividly as Goldstein, whose multi-deca...

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Marco Torrente kicked off his finance career inside the Milan, Italy, offices of SC Johnson, the household cleaning products giant headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin.

All told, he would end up spending 7 years in various finance roles at Johnson—including that of controller—while relocating first to London and then eventually to Geneva.

Looking back, Torrente tells us that the family-owned company created a “flexible culture” that ...

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Perhaps it would be fair to speculate that were it not for the changing dietary habits of Americans and surprise arrival of a global pandemic, Steven Cirulis would likely not be occupying the CFO office at Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

The pursuit of new alternative proteins inside the land of agtech has in recent years led more than few venture capital firms to seek out the advice of strategy executives familiar with the mathematics beh...

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No matter how many phone calls Matt Gustke receives during the span of his finance career, none will likely be more memorable or important than one he received nearly 22 years ago.

At the time, Gustke, a research analyst for a major bank, was spending his days assessing the carnage piling up in the aftermath of the dotcom bubble burst.

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As listeners to our podcast well know, one of our favorite queries for finance executives who have had a lengthy tenure in one place is, “What kept you there?”

It may go without saying that something with the word “opportunity” in it is perhaps the most popular response. Still, for certain finance leaders—and especially those whose careers span multiple decades with a single company—this question often summo...

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If Paystand CFO Scott Bennion were to break his three-decade-long finance career into different chapters, the software finance leader would likely agree that he and many of his peers have recently opened a new one.

As a starting—or concluding—point, the chapter that has just ended might simply be titled "The Data Set," in order to focus our attention on the means by...

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Of all of the career experiences that Robert Goldenberg has acquired on his way to the CFO office, you would think that his stint with a bankrupt landscaping company would not be apt to make his list of all-time opportunity door-openers.

Still, when we asked Goldenberg to look back to share the experiences that first propelled him into the C-suite, the landscaping b...

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The big-city addresses that frequently prettify the office locations of esteemed accounting houses have continued to be a reliable draw for 20-something-year-old accounting grads eager to be counted among urban professionals.     

Thus we would not have been surprised to learn that back in the late 1980s, when recent grad Jim Caci was assigned to Arthur Andersen’s Roseland, New Jersey, office, he experienced what might have been ca...

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Among the learnings that Dev Ahuja has gleaned from his three-decade-long, globe-hopping finance career, perhaps none has delivered a more enduring instruction than that which followed his very first hop.

By his own account, after Ahuja had reached the summit of Novartis’s finance executive ranks in India, the drug giant invited him to occupy...

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