James Son, WG’11, and Saloni Sanghvi Varma, WG’07, created the latest affinity group, the WCNY CFO Network (WhCFO). It provides a forum for finance professionals to explore ideas, share knowledge and build their networks. The WhCFO seeks to engage finance professionals who work in a broad range of fields related to finance, such as corporate finance, treasury, accounting, tax, supply chain finance, sales finance and e-commerce finance.
Saloni is Vice President of Finance at Hunter Boots, responsible for North America Finance. James is Vice President of Corporate Development at Harland Clarke Holdings, a MacAndrews & Forbes Company. On October 17, WhCFO held its first event, Interested in Being a CFO — Learn From the Experts, with 42 alumni in attendance. Panelists visited each of six circles for 15 minutes, shared their careers and answered questions from each group. Discussions in our circle focused on the CFO role and the prerequisites to become a CFO in the various types of organizations that the panelists represented. Panelists included:
• Howard Katzenberg, WG’06, CFO of OnDeck, has led the finance department since 2009.
• Eric Aboaf, ENG’86, W’86, is EVP and CFO of Citizens Financial Group. Eric will join State Street in December 2016 as EVP and a Member of its Management Committee, succeeding State Street’s current CFO in March 2017.
• Geoffrey Strong, WG’06, is Partner at Apollo Global Management. Prior to 2012, Geoffrey worked at Blackstone and Morgan Stanley Capital Partners.
• Anders Petersen, WG’09, is Partner of VO2 Partners. Before that, he was Vice President at Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity.
• Liam Stewart is Managing Director and CFO of Macquarie Infrastructure Corporation (MIC). Prior to that, Liam oversaw MIC’s Atlantic Aviation and Contracted Power & Energy businesses.
• Rose Mistri-Somers is with the Financial Officers Practice of Russell Reynolds Associates. Rose works with clients on key executive-level appointments within their finance functions.
Reflecting on the event, Eric Aboaf pointed out, “CFO careers is a great topic. There are no natural-born CFOs anymore. The job has become too big and complex. This also means that there are many ways into the job: financial planning and analysis; investor relations; treasury; and for people with a range of analytical backgrounds, strategy, investment banking or capital markets.”
A participant also agreed that the topic was very relevant. Lex Wolf, WG’04, Managing Director at The Beekman Group, shared, “It was great to see Saloni and James addressing the role of the CFO function, which traditionally has not been top of mind for Wharton students. As the CFO function continues to evolve into a key strategy role within companies, I hope and expect Wharton will play a role in training the next generation of CFO leaders.”
The event itself also drew praise. Howard Katzenberg said, “I really enjoyed the speed-dating format and opportunity to answer questions from a diverse group of aspiring CFOs. I look forward to future events with this new and very promising alumni group.”
WhCFO is a great opportunity to build your network and knowledge within the world of commercial and operational finance. If you would like to get involved, contact Saloni Varma and James Son at WhCFO@whartonny.com