Karen M. Abraham
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), Karen M. Abraham is known as a “go to” executive who is often called upon by the CEO and senior leadership to help solve a wide variety of business problems — and with good reason. Abraham has been working for BCBSAZ since 1983, starting as a Medicare auditor. Before being appointed a senior vice president, Abraham had served as vice president of finance since 1997. During her tenures as vice president and chief financial officer, BCBSAZ has grown from $313 million to $1.5 billion in revenue.
Among her many significant achievements at BCBSAZ was getting the company in compliance with the BCBS Association requirement to obtain a rating from S&P. The process by which she implemented this requirement resulted in a major change in how BCBSAZ manages its organization, specifically providing an additional discipline in its budgeting, forecasting and rating of its products.
As the “go-to” executive, Abraham has served in various dual capacities, including acting as chief information officer while the search for a permanent CIO was being conducted. During this time, she launched design and construction efforts for the company’s new state-of-the-art, 45,000-square-foot data center. Now Abraham is rolling up her sleeves for the next big challenge facing BCBSAZ — health care reform.
“The new reform law is very complex and has dramatically changed the industry,” she said. “We need to make changes to meet these new demands and to continue to be looked upon as Arizona’s trusted leader in health insurance.”
Bradley C. Anderson’s role at Amtech Systems has been described by CEO Jong S. Whang as “quasi-COO, as well as CFO.”
Amtech Systems is a global supplier of solar and semiconductor equipment, and Anderson’s leadership has had a significant impact on the company’s performance. In 2004, Amtech posted annual revenue of approximately $20 million. Revenue for Amtech’s third quarter this year was a record $43.1 million.
In his four years at Amtech, Anderson has done much to bring the solar company out of the shadows. During his first year, he led the company through two successful secondary offerings, including numerous investor “road shows.” In addition, Anderson instituted quarterly earnings’ calls with analysts, thus helping to raise the company’s profile among analysts and investors. He also has developed a strong technical knowledge of solar cells and semiconductors, which he shares at investor and industry conferences.
Another of Anderson’s achievements is the instrumental role he played in bringing about Amtech’s 2007 acquisition of R2D Automation, a solar and semiconductor automation company located in France. The acquisition has significantly enhanced Amtech’s solar growth strategy by offering an integrated system.
Along with his fiduciary responsibilities, Jason Berg, chief accounting officer at AMERCO/U-Haul, also is a driving force in expanding the company’s real estate and sustainability efforts.
“If my performance creates opportunities for the marketing and operations areas of the organization, I have done my job,” Berg said.
Berg has developed a distressed mortgage loan acquisition program to find and purchase first mortgages on self-storage properties. The company has been able to maximize shareholder value either through taking title to distressed properties at a deep discount or from high yields by rehabilitating the loans. Over the past few years, the company has closed on nearly $30 million in such deals.
He also is a leading voice and contributor to AMERCO/ U-Haul’s extensive sustainability efforts. He was part of a team that created and implemented a program aimed at lowering AMERCO/U-Haul’s environmental impact. Under this program, storage facilities have been retrofitted to reduce their electricity use, pavement has been switched to permeable ground cover, and waste collection and disposal efforts have been further expanded.
In these difficult economic times, Sojourner Center couldn’t ask for a greater champion than Linda Cohen.
Sojourner Center is a Phoenix-based domestic violence shelter for women and children. Sojourner has 280 emergency shelter beds and 32 transitional apartments, and serves 2,900 women and children each year. But in 2009, the organization’s continued ability to provide these needed services came under siege, as the economic downturn battered the state’s budget, forcing a 13 percent funding cut for Sojourner Center.
Cohen’s hard work averted disaster. After countless hours and weekly cash-flow projections, Cohen and a board-run finance committee were able to determine how Sojourner Center could weather the $1 million funding loss, continue to operate at current capacity and avoid staff layoffs.
“For me, ultimately we need to be able to withstand tests of financial stability and sustainability to ensure that women and children who reach out to us for shelter won’t have to look elsewhere, because oftentimes there is nowhere else to go,” Cohen said.
Under Cohen’s stewardship, Sojourner’s annual budget has grown from $2.2 million in its 2005 fiscal year to an estimated $7 million for fiscal year 2011.