During these turbulent economic times, David A. Jackson has played a critical role in keeping Knight Transportation Inc. roadworthy.
Jackson has been the chief financial officer at Knight Transportation for nearly seven years, after being promoted to the position at the age of 28. He joined Knight in 2000, and prior to his appointment as CFO, Jackson served as the corporate purchasing manager.
As part of his efforts to keep Knight strong, Jackson restructured personnel, allowing the company to do more with less and compete successfully in a weak marketplace. He also designed a variable, performance-driven compensation plan for Knight employees.
Externally, Jackson made sure the company had access to capital, while minimizing risk. Knight remains debt free and has been able to grow its market share. Throughout the financial crisis, Knight also was able to preserve capital investments through such strategies as investing in pre-refunded municipal bonds and avoiding the freeze in the auction rate securities market.
“I believe the single-most important role of a CFO is in defining the long-term strategy of the company and aligning all appropriate financial capital and human capital to pull it all off,” he said.
As the nation’s health care industry enters uncharted waters, Scottsdale Healthcare (SHC) is secure in the financial leadership Todd LaPorte provides.
“I am very excited about how finance will be very relevant in helping the health care industry shift from being volume-focused to being value-based, where hospitals will be as involved with helping patients avoid hospital stays as they will be involved in delivering the highest quality acute care during hospital stays,” LaPorte said.
As senior vice president and chief financial officer at SHC, LaPorte is in charge of long-term financial and capital planning for the $1 billion organization. He also manages a $300 million investment portfolio and developed SHC’s long-term debt refinancing strategy, which is expected to save the system millions of dollars. In 2008, as the national credit markets unraveled, LaPorte refinanced several bonds for SHC. Along with saving millions, LaPorte’s action also led to a dramatic turnaround in the balance sheet and a stronger bond rating for the hospital system.
What makes LaPorte even more highly valued at SHC is his compassion for patients, and skill in working with and understanding input from various sources.
For nonprofit organizations, the quality of their programs is the most powerful tool they have in their quest for funding. That program quality relies on organizational strength — strength that is partly based on solid financial management and systems.
VALLEYLIFE, which provides residential, day treatment, vocational and in-home services to people with disabilities, can thank its chief financial officer, Linda Miller, for providing that needed solid financial stewardship.
Miller has continually strengthened VALLEYLIFE’s financial and reporting systems, which have assisted in improving the organization’s operating efficiencies. Currently, VALLEYLIFE’s administrative overhead ratio is less than 7 percent.
“Even though I don’t work with the individuals who receive the services directly, I make a difference by ensuring that the resources of the organization are used appropriately for the members’ services,” Miller said.
She is one of a two-person executive team consisting only of a CEO and the CFO. Miller also is the leader of the organization’s Revenue Diversification Committee, which is developing additional revenue from varied and non-traditional sources.
Before Brent C. Nelson joined SCF Arizona as chief financial officer in 2007, the insurance company was facing some significant issues with its accounting systems.
SCF had just completed a comprehensive technology transition that included converting from the western to the eastern method of insurance accounting. However, design and execution were seriously flawed, leaving SCF to deal with major errors and excessive manual workarounds. All that led to external auditor management letters and reporting of significant deficiencies for 2007 and 2008.
Thanks to his experience, work ethic and drive, Nelson turned the situation around. Nelson and his team created an IT to GL coordination function and an internal/external reporting function that corrected most of the manual workarounds. The auditors were pleased, and in 2009, they did not issue a management letter.
“I engage with managers and employees in understanding how their roles and actions affect performance,” Nelson said. “I get a thrill when the ‘aha’ moment occurs — the discovery and insight into the crucial connection between their work activities and operating results.”