In just under five years, Keith Cowan has increased AAA Arizona’s revenue and membership — all while the nation’s economy spiraled downward.
During Cowan’s tenure as chief financial officer, AAA has grown from $58.4 million in revenue in 2006 to $74.3 million in 2010. In that same period, membership grew from 709,000 to 791,000.
Cowan accomplished all this by taking on several initiatives to keep the company growing and healthy. He enhanced strategic partnerships with other AAA Clubs; led the move of the club’s data center, which significantly reduced the organization’s operational risk; launched AAA Arizona’s new intranet; and initiated and sponsored a new time management program.
His leadership also has produced important improvements in AAA Arizona’s reporting. Awareness of financial and other detailed metrics has increased through monthly operational and strategic review meetings, and dashboards for all levels of the organization.
“The goal setting needs to occur in an informed way, so we strike the right balance between pushing to achieve continually improved performance and being grounded in a realistic assessment of the stretch capabilities of the team,” he said.
Thanks to his “can-do” attitude, Michael N. Deitch, chief financial officer for Providence Service Corporation, is recognized as a positive and powerful force within the company. In this past recession, that positive attitude has served Providence very well.
During the economic downturn, Tucson-based Providence Service lost 90 percent of its market value. But by staying in front of banks and rating agencies, Deitch has been key to the company’s turnaround.
“I must be proficient and current in accounting standards, SEC rules and regulations, and congressional legislation that affects public companies,” he said. “This knowledge is also required for managing a public company’s finance and accounting department effectively.”
Providence Service Corporation is dedicated to providing and managing government-sponsored social services. Benefiting from the growing trend for government privatization of social services, Providence provides human services and non-emergency transportation services management directly to children, adolescents, young adults and families who are eligible for government assistance. It provides these services in the client’s own home or in community-based settings versus institutional care.
Infusionsoft is an entrepreneurial venture that has gone to the next level — and company leaders say Chief Financial Officer Mike Effinger has played a major role in that move.
Before Effinger joined Infusionsoft more than two years ago, the software company was being successfully run through intuition and customer growth. Today, Infusionsoft’s senior management acknowledges that Effinger has provided guidance and direction to “mature” the company and lay a solid foundation for growth.
“As CFO, those I work with know that my primary objective is the accomplishment of our business goals and ensuring that those I work with have the information they need to do the same,” he said.
Effinger initiated a complete conversion of Infusionsoft’s financial reporting systems. This reduced the time it takes to close monthly financials by 50 percent.
Even in the midst of the stocks market’s crash in 2008, Effinger was able to help Infusionsoft secure the investments needed to fund a change in revenue model and continue the company’s customer growth. As a result of this change, Infusionsoft is on track to become cash-flow positive by the end of the year.
Golf may be an individual sport, but Ruth Engle understands it takes a team to run a company. As executive vice president and chief financial officer of Troon Golf LLC, Engle believes that one of her most critical roles is to create a strong team to propel the company to success.
“Nothing is more critical than choosing the right team; balancing skill sets to meet organizational requirements; setting lofty but realistic expectations; challenging, motivating and mentoring staff to permit them to reach the pinnacle of their capabilities; encouraging intellectual curiosity and appropriate risk taking; and performance management,” Engle said.
In addition, the team also must align its functions and activities with the goals of its customers and stakeholders, setting strategic objectives, evaluating and improving process and providing the adequate tools.
Engle leads Troon Golf’s total quality initiative, and has been instrumental in defining and mapping the company’s processes. As part of that, she helped to spearhead Troon Golf’s new initiative, which goes by the appropriate acronym of GRiP (Growth, Retention, Individual Responsibility and Profitability). Engle also helped to define metrics for each element of GRiP.