Data, supply chains, digitization—here’s what mattered to CFOs this week

Good morning,

Here’s what happened this week:

I had the opportunity to sit down with leadership and management expert Michael Useem, the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, to discuss data, enterprise risk management, and strategic partnerships. “Data analytics has become the ‘coin of the realm’, and for good reason,” Useem told me. “In every field, my personal view is that if you’re not working with your intuition and data analytics, you’re not getting your job done. You need to combine both.” However, experienced wisdom and a “profound understanding of the human condition” is still enormously important, he said. The 10th anniversary edition of Useem’s book, The Leader’s Checklist16 Mission-Critical Principles, was released in October. He explained why the COVID-19 pandemic is a redefining moment for leadership.

As the war for talent rages, CFOs worry whether they’ll find the right candidates with the skills to push forward digital transformation. BlackLine, Inc. (Nasdaq: BL), a provider of financial controls and automation software, released a white paper on Tuesday titled, Today’s must-have skills for tomorrow’s growth. A key finding: just 14% of CFOs surveyed are confident that their finance team has the skills required to help their companies grow and adapt over the next five years. The leaders named the areas with prevalent gaps: leadership skills, tech skills, and strategic thinking. The training for these skills must start in academia. To delve more into this topic, I asked Gregory Dawson, Ph.D., of Arizona State University’s School of Accountancy, and former advisory partner at PwC, about BlackLine’s findings. 

As the global semiconductor chip shortage continues into the holiday season, a C-suite position that’s under pressure is the chief supply chain officer (CSCO). “At most companies, the glory in the C-suite has typically gone to the executives who dream up new products, plot bold market expansions, or out-innovate the competition with money-gushing patents. Think Target’s chief merchant or Tesla’s CFO. But this is 2021,” writes my colleague Phil Wahba. In his piece, From obscurity to superhero: Chief supply chain officer is now the toughest job in the C-suite, Phil explores how the CSCO role has become vital to an organization. Gartner actually proposes that a strategic partnership between CFOs and CSCOs can optimize resilience during volatile times. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly further propelled the profile of the CSCO. Phil writes: Macy’s CSCO Dennis Mullahy is not surprised that so many companies are elevating their CSCO’s profile, and says the job was changing a lot already even before the pandemic. Read more.

Ever wonder what your investors really want from you? To gain some insight, I recently spoke to Broadridge CFO Edmund Reese. He spent his career at companies including American Express, Merrill Lynch, and Smith Barney before he joined Broadridge (NYSE: BR) in November 2020. The fintech offers investor communications and technology platforms for governance, capital markets, and wealth management. I spoke with Reese about trends he’s seeing and being in the CFO chair. One trend is digitization, he said. “The pandemic acted as a catalyst for tech transformation,” Reese said. Take the company’s virtual shareholder meetings product: “In fiscal 2019, we did 300 virtual shareholder meetings,” he explained. “Last year, our fiscal year 2021, we did close to 2,400 virtual shareholder meetings, covering 80% of the S&P 100, and over 50% of the S&P 500.”

As always, I appreciate your readership. Have a great weekend.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

The 2022 Information Technology Outlook, published by 451 Research, the enterprise technology research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, explores topics including the need for workplace technology innovation and digital enhancements and the impacts of digitization in customer experience. More than half (54%) of the companies surveyed have digital transformation strategies, an increase from 43% in 2019 and 29% in 2016, and are increasing workloads in the cloud. The report also found that digitization leaders outperform in equity and credit markets. 

Going deeper

Here are a few Fortune reads for the weekend:

It’s not just the U.S.: Inflation alarm bells are also ringing in Japan and—most worryingly—in China by Grady McGregor

Nearly 40% of employers expanded mental health benefits during the pandemic by Megan Leonhardt

Strategy Session: Instacart CEO Fidji Simo on how she found her own leadership groove by Maria Aspan

Empathy is the go-to leadership skill of the moment—and yes, it can be learned by Chris Taylor


Some notable moves from this past week:

Hope Dmuchowski was named senior executive vice president and CFO at First Horizon Corporation (NYSE: FHN), effective Nov. 29, 2021. Dmuchowski will succeed interim CFO Anthony Restel. She joins the company from Truist Financial Corporation where she most recently served as EVP, head of financial planning and analysis and management reporting. Prior to that role, Dmuchowski served as CFO of corporate banking, commercial banking and corporate groups with leadership responsibilities for the business line CFOs throughout the organization.

Ari Fischel was named CFO at Capital Rx, a health-tech company. Fischel brings more than 20 years of financial management and strategic planning experience to the role. Fischel most recently served as VP of finance and accounting at Oscar Health, a health insurance company. During his five year tenure at Oscar, he helped lay the groundwork for the company's March 2021 initial public offering. Prior to Oscar Health, Fischel served in senior finance and leadership roles for The Nielsen Company and General Electric.

Andrea J. Funk was promoted to EVP and CFO at EnerSys (NYSE: ENS), a stored energy solutions provider for industrial applications, effective April 1, 2022. Michael J. Schmidtlein, current EVP and CFO, announced he plans to retire from EnerSys on March 31, 2022, after a 26-year career with the company. Funk currently serves as VP of finance, Americas. She joined EnerSys in 2018. Funk previously served as CFO at Cambridge Lee Industries LLC. She has also served in positions of increasing responsibility at Carpenter Technology, Arrow International, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Bell Atlantic Corporation and Ernst & Young.

Noel Marsden was named CFO at GRUBBRR, a commerce automation company that provides self-ordering kiosk technology. Marsden brings over 20 years of experience to the role. The company is currently targeting Series B funding, and Marsden is leading the charge. Prior to GRUBBRR, Marsden served as CFO at a financial services company specializing in short-term working capital solutions. He was also president and CFO at CareCloud, a SAAS technology platform provider. Prior to CareCloud, Marsden was SVP and CFO of services and treasurer at Brightstar, a subsidiary of SoftBank.

Donald R. Marvin was named CFO, EVP and chief operating officer (COO) at Chemomab Therapeutics Ltd. (Nasdaq: CMMB), a clinical-stage biotech company. Marvin is a biotechnology executive with over 35 years of experience. Until its acquisition earlier this year, he served as EVP and CFO of Lodo Therapeutics. Marvin was previously chairman, president and CEO of Concentric. Before Concentric, he was president and CEO of IdentiGEN. Marvin was a co-founder of Nasdaq-traded Orchid BioSciences, where he served as COO, CFO and SVP of corporate development. Earlier in his career, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Abbott, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer and PepsiCo.

Eric Muhlheim was named CFO at Mozilla Corporation. Most recently, Muhlheim provided strategic financial and operating services as an independent consultant to a variety of early stage and privately-funded startups. Prior to that, he served as chief financial and administrative officer at BuzzFeed. Muhlheim started his career at The Walt Disney Company, where he held various leadership roles over more than 15 years, including managing the expansion of Disney English in China. Following his tenure at Disney, Muhlheim was CFO at Helix Education and at OpenX Technologies.

Karine Pinto-Flomenboim was named CFO at Arbe Robotics Ltd. (Nasdaq: ARBE), effective Nov. 8, 2021. Pinto-Flomenboim will succeed Danny Klein, who will assume a senior management position in Arbe. In her most recent role, Pinto-Flomenboim served as CFO at TIBA Parking Systems. Prior to this, Pinto-Flomenboim held the positions of head of corporate finance planning and analysis, and director of business controlling at Caesarstone Ltd., and served at various financial positions at Intel.

Craig Pommells was named SVP and CFO at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (Nasdaq: CBRL), effective December 6. Pommells will report to the company’s president and CEO Sandra B. Cochran. Pommells has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, most recently as the EVP and CFO at Red Lobster. Prior to Red Lobster, he spent more than 10 years with Darden Restaurants in various finance and business analytics roles.

Audrey Zhao was named CFO at CloudBees, an enterprise software delivery company. Zhao has experience leading technology organizations through accelerated growth and global expansion. She most recently served as SVP of finance for Cloudera. She facilitated the company’s initial public offering, merger with Hortonworks, and the acquisition by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR. Prior to Cloudera, Zhao was VP of financial planning and analysis and acting CFO at SugarCRM. She also held senior finance positions at Chegg, PayPal, and PRTM Management Consulting.


"He talks investing, just like Ted Williams talked about discipline at the plate."

—Former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, who launched a venture capital firm this year, on what he's learned from Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, as reported by Yahoo Finance.

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