532 episodes

CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.
We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

CFO THOUGHT LEADE‪R‬ Middle Market Executive

    • Careers
    • 4.6 • 93 Ratings

CFO THOUGHT LEADER is a podcast featuring firsthand accounts of finance leaders who are driving change within their organizations.
We share the career journey of our spotlighted CFO guest: What do they struggle with? How do they persevere? What makes them successful CFOs? CFO THOUGHT LEADER is all about inspiring finance professionals to take a leadership leap. We know that by hearing about the successes — (and yes, also the failures) — of others, today’s CFOs can more confidently chart their own leadership paths across the enterprise and take inspired action.

    679: Making a Business Ripe for Investors | Graham Miao, CFO, AgroFresh

    679: Making a Business Ripe for Investors | Graham Miao, CFO, AgroFresh

    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 research facility run by pharmaceutical giant Roche.
    It was here amidst the daily pursuit of biological insights that Miao began to observe how finance and accounting professionals held sway over many of the resources needed to complete different projects.
    “It made you wonder, ‘What is it that accountants know about science that scientists don’t?,’” explains Miao, who after 5 years with Roche returned to Columbia to study business full-time.
    “At the time, my boss and colleagues thought that I was being crazy and that it was too risky,” remarks Miao, who notes that the pursuit of yet another degree required that he take out a student loan.
    Next, Miao joined JPMorgan, where he worked in equity research and served investment banking clients that were looking to better communicate the “equity story” to investors.  
    “The pace of the job was completely different from what I was used to as a scientist,” comments Miao, who adds that the discussions he found himself having as an investment banker further revealed to him the breadth of finance’s influence and boosted his confidence in having made the right decision.  –Jack Sweeney
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    • 54 min
    678: The Arc of Data's Evolution | Ed Goldfinger, CFO, Quantum Metric

    678: The Arc of Data's Evolution | Ed Goldfinger, CFO, Quantum Metric

    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 milestone of taking a company public. However, the biggest takeaways for him were related to the experience of growing a company widely recognized as an industry disrupter—and thus member of a cohort known as much for innovation in business modeling as for often startling deficiencies in benchmarking data.
    “You couldn’t point to any existing player and say that this was what we should look like over time,” explains Goldfinger, who notes that Zipcar grew from roughly $55 million to $300 million in annual sales during his term as CFO, a 6-year tenure that ended with the sale of Zipcar to Avis Budget Group in 2013.
    Among the more sizable obstacles that Zipcar’s finance team faced was the lopsided rental habits of its weekly customers.
    “There were probably 50 percent more rentals on the weekend than on weekdays,” comments Goldfinger, who reports that the spike in customer demand on weekends burdened Zipcar with growing numbers of dormant vehicles on weekdays.    
    He continues: “I invented a metric that we called ‘weekality,’ which was simply weekend usage over weekday usage, with the goal being to lower it.”
    What’s more, Goldfinger says, the company introduced incentives to make overnight rentals more appealing to weekday customers and at the same time launched a “big push” into the business rental market by using promotions specially designed to attract weekday corporate customers.
    Still, Goldfinger admits that few incentives were more effective than pricing when it came to striking a weekday/weekend balance: “We charged a lot more on weekends on a per-day basis because there was just no way that we could hit our revenue-per-car numbers if we didn’t achieve a better balance during the course of the week.” –Jack Sweeney 
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    • 48 min
    677: Engaging Minds at Work | Michael Pickrum, CFO, ExecOnline

    677: Engaging Minds at Work | Michael Pickrum, CFO, ExecOnline

    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 figuring out how to distribute and monetize it,” comments Pickrum, while boiling down the somewhat complex approach that ExecOnline uses to repackage the curricula of top business schools and universities to better serve the specific people development needs of a variety of corporate clients.
    Still, Pickrum’s shorthand description is intended not to spotlight the facets of ExecOnline’s business model but instead to draw our attention to its similarities with his past media industry experience—such as his 17 years with BET Networks, where he occupied the CFO office for 9 of them.  
    As for the personal side of things, Pickrum says that he is a “big believer” when it comes to the transformative power of education.
    “I went to public schools growing up—I was very fortunate to go to a great university, and it changed my life,” remarks Pickrum, who adds that ExecOnline packages the academic IP not with aspiring college students in mind but with an eye toward first-time managers as well as more senior business leaders.
    According to Pickrum, part of the added value that ExecOnline offers corporate clients derives from providing the IP in a more relevant and efficient way.
    “Most of our programs are 1 week, 3 weeks, or 6ix weeks,” explains Pickrum, who says that at times the material being covered can be applied to a specific project that the managers are undertaking within their company.  
    “It’s just a great marriage between the business school’s IP, professors, and resources, and our platform and ability to engage people where they are, which is at work.” –Jack Sweeney 
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    • 42 min
    676: The Next Transformation Journey | Paul Lundstrom, CFO, Flex

    676: The Next Transformation Journey | Paul Lundstrom, CFO, Flex

    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 that for every company, the CFO office has but one occupant.
    By all accounts, a Fortune 500 company was a worthy target for Lundstrom’s CFO ambitions, but here, too, the number of CFO roles quickly diminishes when you consider the industry-specific focus that spans the arc of Lundstrom’s career and those of so many others.  
    Finance executives often tell us that it was here within this realm of heightened ambition and shrinking opportunity that they dared to add one of the most satisfying chapters of their CFO careers, and so it was for Lundstrom.
    Last fall, the UT veteran landed safely inside the Fortune 500 world when he was named CFO of Flex, a $24 billion contract manufacturer. However, it was the 4 years between UT and Flex that Lundstrom now points to as constituting one of the most satisfying periods of his career.
    Back in 2016, Lundstrom exited UT to accept a CFO position with Aerojet Rocketdyne, a struggling aerospace company that had recently found it necessary to restate its financials.
    “This was a $2 billion NASDAQ company that did not have a controller,” explains Lundstrom, whose 4-year tour of duty as Aerojet’s CFO coincided with a rise in the company’s stock price from $16 to $50 per share (pre-COVID).
    “The goal was business transformation,” explains Lundstrom, who now characterizes his Aerojet years as a “turnaround” chapter that no doubt put yet another stripe on his CFO career path sleeve. –Jack Sweeney
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    • 37 min
    For the Luv of Dictators, Marching in Step with OKRs

    For the Luv of Dictators, Marching in Step with OKRs

    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 keenly aware of the competitive price of employee burnout and workforce attrition — many midsize companies are today busy rethinking how they attract, hire and inspire employees.

    • 30 min
    675: When Complexity Equals Waste | Jim Harper, CFO, Goodroot

    675: When Complexity Equals Waste | Jim Harper, CFO, Goodroot

    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 patchwork of payers and providers.
    For Harper, connection points are where waste gathers within the larger system – and where companies often add unnecessary complexity in order to extract more dollars.
    “Because there is so much money flying through the systems there are a lot of organizations that have become involved here and they are greedy,” comments Harper, whose shares his opinion of the healthcare system as a preface to explaining the mission behind Goodroot.  
    Not exactly a business incubator, and not a private equity firm, Goodroot prefers to be dubbed a “community” of businesses dedicated to improving the current state of healthcare delivery.
     Harper once more tells us: It's a mission that can only be achieved  "one system at a time." - Jack Sweeney
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    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
93 Ratings

93 Ratings

Santos-L-Halper ,

Relatable and applicable

This podcast truly marries useful finance tips and insights with human stories about finance professionals. It’s such a great mix of information any company can apply today and the characters and personal stories behind that info. The combination makes each episode memorable and valuable.

321 Capt ,

Super informative and thought provoking

I have an MBA and I really enjoy this show. Jack asks probing questions that get into the mind of his guest. I feel like I’m a fly on the wall listening to a couple of intelligent movers and shakers sharing their most important business secrets. This show is a must-listen for anyone who aspires to be a leader in the business world.

Powerful Eric ,

Impressive Professional Wow!

Impressive unique show that gives the serious professional the tool they need to evolve in the business world. Nice work. Great podcast. Highly recommend!

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