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A 4x CFO shares her career path and how she climbed the corporate ladder

December 6, 2021, 11:20 AM UTC

Good morning, 

I’m always fascinated and inspired when I hear about career journeys. 

Each finance chief I’ve interviewed had a unique path to leadership, like Laurie Krebs, SVP and CFO at Red Hat, who initially thought she’d be a doctor or nurse but pivoted to numbers. Or Tracey T. Travis, EVP and CFO at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., who began her career as an engineer. That’s why I’m excited about Fortune’s new series called Career Rewind, where we ask executives with interesting career paths to recount how they climbed the corporate ladder. Featured in the first installment of the series is Vanna Krantz, CFO at Passport, a transportation software and payments company.

Vanna Krantz, CFO at Passport/ Photo courtesy of Passport

Krantz previously served as the CFO of Disney Streaming Services, part of the team that launched Disney+ and ESPN+. She held various divisional CFO roles at Thomson Reuters and served as CFO at Masterclass. But to accomplish all of this, she took a risky path. A chartered accountant with a degree from the University of Waterloo and experience as an auditor, Krantz relocated from Canada to New York City in the mid-1990s with her husband so he could pursue an M.B.A. at Columbia University. The Ottawa-native didn’t have a job lined up. So one day, she took a risk. 

“I walked into PricewaterhouseCoopers on Sixth Avenue,” Krantz told me. “I just asked the security guards who the HR person was. One of the guys said: ‘Let me call her up. I know who she is. She has the most visitors.’ I’m practically shaking in my boots. I go up to meet her. And [after talking] she says, ‘You seem like you’re qualified. Why don’t you join one of our Super Saturdays?’” Krantz wound up getting a job at PwC as a principal consultant in financial risk management. 

Krantz shared the ins and outs of her career path including how she became a streaming expert, how she survived a merger, what she took away from 4 CFO jobs at big companies, why she cried on her 40th birthday, and lots of other aspects of the long and winding road that led to her current role at Passport. Read the full story here. You might just take away a bit of inspiration to prompt your own next move.


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Fidelity Investments recently commissioned a survey on holiday spending. About 30% of the “next generation,” defined as the ages 18 to 35, plan on investing in stocks for themselves or others. However, 66% of respondents said they're worried about holiday purchases sidetracking their overall financial goals; and only 32% are completely confident in managing daily expenses. Almost half (46%) said they need guidance on developing a long-term financial plan. Meanwhile, 44% said they need to learn about investing basics. The next generation findings are based on the viewpoints of 1,582 respondents in the U.S.

Going deeper

The Omicron Variant: How Companies Should Respond, a report published in Harvard Business Review on Dec. 3, offers guidelines as the COVID-19 rises. The authors, Jeff Levin-Scherz, MD, and Patricia Toro, MD, both leaders in the health and benefits practice of Willis Towers Watson, provide advice for U.S. employers as they consider protective measures for employees. "We expect that many companies will now pause returning remote employees to the workplace until more is known about the transmissibility and severity of the Omicron variant and its ability to evade the immunity provided by vaccines and previous infections," the authors write.

Leaderboard

Toby Xu was named CFO at Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE: BABA and and HKEX: 998), an online commerce company, effective April 1, 2022. Xu, deputy CFO, will succeed Maggie Wu, current CFO. Wu will continue as a partner in the Alibaba Partnership, and serve as an executive director on the Alibaba board. Xu joined Alibaba in July 2018 and was appointed deputy CFO in July 2019. Before joining Alibaba Group, he was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers for 11 years, where he joined in 1996.

Neal Fuller, CFO at AMERISAFE, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMSF), a specialty provider of workers’ compensation insurance, announced his plans to retire in 2022. Fuller will remain with the company to assist in the transition of responsibilities to his successor. AMERISAFE plans to launch an executive search for a new CFO. Fuller joined the company in September 2015 as EVP and CFO and has over 30 years of experience in leadership within the insurance industry.

Overheard

"You’ve got every day to win a new customer. You can lose them with a bad experience. But just because they have a great experience with you, that doesn’t mean you’re going to keep them, so you’ve got to continue to raise your game to stay relevant."

—Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette, as told to Fortune

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