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Visa’s CFO offers career advice to start your year

January 3, 2022, 11:02 AM UTC

Happy New Year! 

For many, the beginning of the year means setting new career goals. That could mean aspiring to advance in your current field or even choosing a new career path. I recently had a conversation with Visa Vice Chair and CFO Vasant Prabhu for Fortune’s series Career Rewind. Prabhu discussed his climb up the corporate ladder, including his current position at the global credit card and payments powerhouse. But finance, it turns out, wasn’t initially on his radar.

“If you had told me when I was 21 that I would spend more than half of my career being a CFO, I would have said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m an engineer, and I love marketing and media,” Prabhu told me. “I tell people—build your skills, build your relationships, build your reputation. But stay flexible in terms of what you’re willing to do because you never know what your next opportunity is going to be.”

Photo of Vasant Prabhu
Visa CFO Vasant Prabhu.
Courtesy of Visa

Prabhu’s curiosity for business changed his path from engineering to finance with a few twists and turns along the way. For the past 21 years, he’s had CFO roles at public companies. “I guess I just have been the sort of person where you throw me into the water, and I’ll figure out how to swim,” he said. While pursuing an MBA, a senior partner at the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton hired Prabhu as a summer intern. Chrysler, led by CEO Lee Iacocca at the time, was his client during the internship. “I was shocked that someone would actually pay me to go and learn how businesses worked,” he said. But the “most profound thing was that someone would bet on me.” That has been a theme throughout his career. 

Prabhu started his business career as an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. But he would go on to leadership roles in various industries, including president of the information and media group at The McGraw-Hill Companies. “It was 1998, just as the internet was taking off,” Prabhu said. He took on a big challenge. 

Prabhu revealed the four factors he has considered throughout his career when changing jobs. He also talked about the hardest part of any leadership position and why he took on his current role at Visa. You can read more about Prabhu’s career journey here. It may inspire you while charting your course for 2022. 


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

XpertHR's recent report found that 69% of employers surveyed expect to increase their workforce in 2022, compared to 48% in last year's survey. However, among the most challenging issues facing the HR function this year include employee retention (79%), workforce planning (67%), and vaccine mandates (66%), according to the report. The findings are based on a survey of 351 U.S. employers.

Courtesy of XpertHR

Going deeper

Macy's chief human resources officer, Danielle Kirgan, was also named chief transformation officer just weeks before the pandemic upended business. In the feature piece, What does a chief transformation officer do? Talking strategy with Macy’s turnaround expert, Fortune's Phil Wahba discusses with Kirgan how she spearheaded the department store chain's multi-year reinvention plan. "The chief transformation part of her title is ultimately about making sure there is an achievable strategy in place, often centered in digital initiatives, and that all executives are on the same page and are accountable," Wahba writes.

Leaderboard

Richard Pimentel was named CFO and EVP at Community West Bancshares (NASDAQ: CWBC), parent company of Community West Bank, effective Jan. 3. Pimentel succeeds Susan Thompson, who recently transitioned to SVP, interim SEC reporting manager. Pimentel most recently served as CFO at CalPrivate Bank. Throughout his career, Pimentel served as a finance leader for community banks and has many years of experience in accounting and finance.

Katrina L. Sparano was named treasurer and CFO at Espey Mfg. & Electronics Corp. (NYSE American: ESP), effective Jan. 1. Sparano succeeds David A. O’Neil, who was appointed the new president and CEO. Sparano most recently served as Espey’s assistant treasurer and principal accounting officer. She previously served as interim principal financial officer from June 2, 2014 to Jan. 31, 2015.

Overheard

"Great work by Tesla team worldwide!"

—Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted Sunday on Twitter that in the fourth quarter, the automaker achieved production of more than 305,000 vehicles and deliveries of over 308,000 vehicles. In 2021, Tesla delivered over 936,000 vehicles.

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