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CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a ground-breaking business podcast, hosted by Jack Sweeney that 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?
 
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Within 4 months of her 2019 arrival inside BDSI’s CFO office, Terry Coelho had spearheaded a product acquisition and managed a successful equity raise—two finance milestones that would produce generous sales tailwinds for the specialty pharmaceutical firm. BDSI would experience 100% net sales growth in 2019, followed by 40% net sales growth in 2020…
 
Back in 2014, when FM Global wanted to entice finance executive Kevin Ingram to move back to the US from England, the UK finance director was offered a position no one at the company had ever heard of before. “My CEO came to me and said, ‘It’s called sr. vice president of corporate services and that means nothing to anybody, but I love that because…
 
Each Wednesday morning, as the CEO prodded his team for business projections and troubleshooting ideas, the midsize company’s top managers would huddle around a white board inside a glass-enclosed office. For 20-something Ken Kaufman, the management huddle was a silent spectacle—except for the occasional bouts of laughter that burst out from behind…
 
Long before growing numbers of digital nomads freely roamed the planet, Hamza Benamar had achieved a borderless professional life inside the world of internal audit. “I went through a phase in my career when I was not even planning the next year—I was too busy getting my work noticed and getting proposals to go somewhere else,” explains Benamar, wh…
 
For Rebecca Mahadeva, the late 1990s audit of a minor league baseball team was the type of rare career assignment that never failed to intrigue both accountants and non accountants alike. At the time, Mahadeva had been serving a variety of technology audit clients as a young associate for Coopers & Lybrand when she added to her docket a major leagu…
 
When Paul Ottolini is asked to share a personal trait—one that a family member might divulge to us— the seasoned finance leader tells us that he likes to cut his own lawn and that he is known for being “cheap.” Still, Ottolini makes clear to us that it’s more the satisfaction of completing a job and not the cost savings that regularly fuels his pur…
 
When Stéphane Berthier joined Uniphore of Palo Alto, CA, as CFO this past January, the move no doubt raised more than a few Silicon Valley eyebrows. For more than two decades, Berthier had served a list of prestigious Bay Area tech companies as a top audit partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers, where his impressive tenure had originally been kicked of…
 
When CFO John Collins is asked how his background in data modeling and strategy is influencing the role that finance plays inside LivePerson, the artificial intelligence (AI) software firm that he first joined 2 years ago, he draws our attention to the mountains of data accumulating alongside most businesses today. “Given the volume of data that ex…
 
As Christian Geyer sees it, the path to the CFO office can begin just about anywhere. For him, anywhere happened to be the accounts payable department of a DC-area construction company. Having built numerous government facilities across the region, the company hired Geyer—along with three other “payables specialists”—to manage the process of paying…
 
A little more than a decade ago, Ron Knutson remembers, when he first stepped into the CFO role at Lawson Products, he quickly realized that the productivity improvements that he was expected to help drive would demand a number of significant infrastructure and technology investments. In anticipation of the investments that would need to be made, K…
 
Looking back, AgroFresh CFO Graham Miao says that the decision to change careers early in his professional life was triggered more or less by resource allocation. Originally, Miao had trained as a biologist, but after having earned a doctoral degree in biology from Columbia University, he quickly found gainful employment as a scientist at a researc…
 
When Ed Goldfinger is asked to relate a moment of strategic insight that he has experienced as a finance leader, he draws our attention to his CFO tenure at Zipcar, the car-sharing upstart that targets the short-term needs of its customers by being billable by the hour as well as the minute. At Zipcar, Goldfinger would achieve the fabled CFO milest…
 
When Michael Pickrum tells us about ExecOnline, the company that he joined as CFO back in 2019, he wants us to know that the education technology firm is aligned with his goals both professionally and personally. When it comes to the professional side of things, Pickrum says, ExecOnline in certain ways is a media company. “You’re taking some IP and…
 
Back in 2015, after nearly two decades of diligent career-building across United Technologies, Paul Lundstrom fixed his career builder’s gaze upon the span of companies known as the Fortune 500. Like many seasoned finance executives who spend the balance of their careers inside large enterprise companies, Lundstrom had to confront the obvious truth…
 
This Episode Features Human Capital Insights & Commentary from: Dynshaw Italia, CFO, Soldo Brad Kinnish, CFO, Aryaka Will Bondurant, CFO, Castlight Health The Workplace Champions Podcast explores the innovative workforce practices of talent-minded business leaders tasked with opening a new chapter of growth for their midsize organizations. More kee…
 
According to Goodroot CFO Jim Harper, the best way to transform the current U.S. healthcare system is to replace its connective tissue. “It’s going to be a long slog and it’s got to be done one system at a time,” explains Harper, who uses the word “system” while referring to the individual points of connection that knit together healthcare’s patchw…
 
When CFO Robert Linder highlights what distinguishes the dining experience at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, it’s easy to imagine him as a friendly host escorting us across a lively dining area filled with spirited patrons. “I love the hospitality industry, and I didn’t always know why—but I love to host and I love the interaction and taking care of so…
 
Years from now, when Castlight Health CFO Will Bondurant reflects back on the varied chapters of his finance career, he may title the current one “The Turnaround”—that is, if he and Castlight CEO Maeve O’Meara are able to achieve what the firm’s previous management team had not been able to: a strategy transformation. Like his CEO, Bondurant is not…
 
When an inquisitive software analyst takes a seat across the table from TIBCO Software CFO Tom Berquist, the inquisitor may not know that TIBCO’s finance leader once sat on their side of the table and in certain ways still prefers it. From 1996 to 2006, Berquist added a distinguished equity research chapter to his career when he became a marquee an…
 
It was a meeting that Planful CFO Shane Hansen tells us that he was not looking forward to. The SaaS developer’s FP&A team had discovered a “fairly large” forecasting error, and Hansen deemed it necessary to brief Planful CEO Grant Halloran on the matter. So, as planning teams are apt to do, Planful’s FP&A crew performed an extracurricular round of…
 
If we were asked to boil down our discussion with CFO Gary Golden to a single word, our answer would be: “judgment.” It perhaps goes without saying that having good judgment is a prerequisite for every finance leader, and the quality frequently tops the list of reasons that CEOs give when asked to describe what sets apart one CFO candidate from ano…
 
We seldom hear a finance leader tell us that they took a pass on a promotion early in their careers, so when CFO Ozan Pamir told us that as a 25-year-old associate he had turned down a vice president position with Echelon Wealth Partners, a Canadian investment banking firm that he had been with for only 2 years, we felt obliged to ask: “Why?” “I’d …
 
It was roughly 12 months ago that Jason Eustace was named CFO of CuriosityStream, an upstart streaming media company launched in 2015 by Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks. For Eustace, CuriosityStream represents something of a flashback career chapter, arguably having more in common with the first 10 years of his finance career than the past…
 
The mid-December conference call was 45 minutes old, CFO Brad Kinnish says, when he began to feel edgy. One of the company’s biggest deals of the year had yet to close, and the specifics behind its commission structure (or lack thereof) had led a number of the call’s participants to begin to flag potential snags. As time passed and commissions cont…
 
It’s a phrase that has historically never roamed far beyond the corridors of pharmaceutical companies, but now—thanks to COVID 19—the term “clinical trials” has entered the vocabulary of the public at large. Perhaps at no time in history have the “trials” that pharma companies use to generate data on the safety of a particular drug, vaccine, or tre…
 
Among the experiences that Rob Barnhart credits with having prepared him for a CFO role was an executive training program in which he participated when he served as director of FP&A for defense contractor BAE Systems. Known as LEAD, or Leadership Enhancement Accelerated Development, the program put a spotlight not on technical knowledge or manageme…
 
Back in 2015, when Gary Swidler was a candidate for a CFO position at Match Group, the seasoned banking executive recalls being told by company management: “On paper, you are definitely not the most qualified person for the job.” The gap on Swidler’s resume was due to the fact that he had never held a CFO position—a void that frustrates many first-…
 
We have been speaking with Hoang Vuong for little more than a minute when he mentions the CFO mentor whom he credits with having influenced his early career decisions. “Hey, what do you really want to do when you grow up?” was the question that Vuong remembers being asked by the CFO, who had gotten to know Vuong personally while the young techie ha…
 
When innovation is a topic for discussion, Dynshaw Italia can’t resist mentioning Cobra Beer—or, to be more specific, “the big bottle.” It was Cobra, of course, that first opted to forgo the UK’s standard 500–550 ml beer bottles and introduce an ever more generously proportioned 650 ml vessel. “Cobra was all about doing things differently and bette…
 
Thinking back to his days as a charter boat captain off the coast of Point Loma, San Diego, Dan Stokely marvels at the responsibilities that he shouldered as a young adult. Serving a mix of customers, Stokely would routinely welcome on board groups of small business owners, executives, and doctors before setting off to sea on 3- to 15-day jaunts. “…
 
Back in 2018—when Deb Ricci’s name topped the list of leading candidates to fill the CFO role at Guidehouse, a management consulting firm carve-out—three career distinctions likely set her apart from other candidates. First, Ricci was a veteran public sector executive whose finance resume included multiple chapters inside the government services se…
 
In front of the restaurant’s dozen or more cash registers, customers were standing six or seven deep when Brice Hill raised his voice and began instructing the hungry mall shoppers to immediately exit the store. “No one listened to a single word I said,” says Hill, who opens our discussion by transporting us back to the mid-1980s, when as a teenage…
 
When Tupperware Brands CFO Sandra Harris is asked what set her apart from the other CFO candidates who aspired to fill the finance leadership role at the iconic maker of food storage products, she doesn’t hesitate to mention that her previous leadership turn was not as a CFO, but as chief information officer for outdoor apparel and footwear manufac…
 
It was near the end of her 9 years with Intel Corp. that Yevgenia Fink received a bit of advice that today she credits with having helped her to blaze a path that would ultimately lead to the CFO office. As Fink recalls, “Leave Intel before you forget how to open an Excel spreadsheet” was the brief but memorable comment that a respected manager opi…
 
When Russell Burke tells us that his days at Sony Music Entertainment included “huge peaks” such as the release of the hit sound track for the motion picture Titanic as well as huge challenges such as the rise of digital pirates, the two developments quickly converge. Suddenly, in our mind’s eye, we see Burke’s career vessel of choice surrounded by…
 
Twenty-five to 30 years ago, senior executives seeking CFO roles did not think like Tom Tuchscherer. Many still don’t, which is why CFO roles have increasingly come to executives like Tuchscherer, a gate crasher from the world of corporate development. Such was the case back in 2012, when Tuchscherer entered the CFO office for the first time at Tal…
 
When Drew Vollero arrived in the CFO office of Snap (formerly Snapchat) in 2015, the executives occupying the tech world’s traditional IPO talent bench no doubt raised a few eyebrows. Having spent the previous 25 years inside the corporate corridors of Mattel, Inc., and PepsiCo, Vollero had a resume chock-full of strategic planning initiatives that…
 
Of all of the business discussions that Chad Cohen has had over the years, few are likely as memorable as the 20-second conversation he had with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff about midway into his 9-year career stint with the online real estate company. Cohen joined Zillow back in 2006 as corporate controller, a position that he says also had the adde…
 
In 2016, when Jeff Nichols had been a senior member of Glassdoor’s FP&A team for 2 years, he and other members of the finance team were confronting the nagging truth that the firm’s path to going public wasn’t getting any shorter. The online job recruitment firm’s efforts to grow its profit margins had met only mild success, while its cash burn rat…
 
Ross Tennenbaum remembers that back in 2018, when he was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, he had conversations with a number of senior executives from Slack Technologies, Inc. At the time, the fast-growing workplace messaging and communication platform was preparing to go public, and the company was making a special effort to educate bankers a…
 
In 2008, as the economic downturn threatened to upend IBM Corp.’s financial well-being, the company’s leadership was considering different candidates to lead a corporatewide restructuring when Kieran McGrath’s name surfaced. McGrath was known as a troubleshooter inside the ranks of IBMers, a seasoned finance executive whose 27 years with the compan…
 
Had Martin Nolan studied engineering instead of accounting, his career path would likely never have entered the worlds of Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, and Michael Jackson. Still, Irish-born Nolan is quick to point out that it was a Green Card lottery, not his accounting degree, that facilitated his relocation to New York City, where he would meet a…
 
It’s a familiar sequence: A strong-minded investor musters the will to lead and steps into the CEO office determined to revitalize a struggling technology company and put it back on the growth track. For Bill Adams, this swift turn of events occurred only a year into his first industry stint as a corporate controller—a career chapter, he recalls fo…
 
When Adrian Talbot tells us that he parachuted into Thames Television in the early 1990s, the image of the London skyline—once used to brand the popular British broadcasting company —quickly comes to mind. Suddenly, in our mind’s eye, just to the right of St. Paul’s dome, we spy a 20-something-year-old Talbot floating confidently downward. Along wi…
 
Bendetti: I'm trying to steal that great quote from Warren Buffet, "I'm trying to be greedy while others are fearful." And I'm trying to grow. And if you're an existing organization with a big overhead, wow, you're retreating. You are worried about how you're going to continue if you're a 501C6, you're not eligible for the PPP loans. They're in a p…
 
Just as Michelle McComb was imagining that she would shortly be joining another Silicon Valley start-up as a finance leader, the CFO of Lucent Technologies helped to upend her plans. Back in the early 2000s, McComb’s first CFO tour of duty was coming to an end with the successful sale of her company to a larger, publicly held software firm. However…
 
There’s little question that 2020 will long be remembered as a year of crisis for the casino industry. Commercial gaming revenues in the U.S. were down 79 percent during the second quarter when compared to Q2 2019, a fact that made IAC/Interactive’s August announcement that it was purchasing 12 percent of hospitality and gambling giant MGM all the …
 
Back in the late 1980s, Mike Brower’s list of audit clients included a roster of oil and gas companies as well a local university and a number of different state and local government entities. It was the type of client list that any accountant based in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming, might covet, a fact made all the more undeniable by having Taco Joh…
 
Back in 2015, Katie Rooney was only 7 months into her first industry CFO role at Aon when her boss asked her to exit the office. “He came into my office on November 1 and said, ‘I’m retiring, and I want you to take on my role. I’m leaving in 8 weeks,’” recalls Rooney, who says that the news triggered a mix of surprise and fear, which she recalls ou…
 
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