Mark Ott joined Next Stage Solutions this Spring. Read on to see what Mark has been up to – he has a great story to tell!
Most Satisfying: In your CFO work you have done in the past, what is the most satisfying feedback you got from the CEO?
The most satisfying feedback I received is when the CEO told me that he knew he could spend a considerable amount of time out of the office (with customers, investors, board members, press, etc.) knowing that everything back at headquarters was being looked after with me looking after things.
Most Inventive: Given that as CFO we understand the importance of providing our clients with more than just accounting and financial reporting, share with us a project that truly made you a value creator.
When we moved a company from California to Massachusetts, I had to build a complete infrastructure pretty much from the ground up. This included the recruitment/interviewing and engagement/hiring of new corporate attorneys, external auditors, Accounting Manager, Office Manager, and Human Resources Manager as well as establishing new banking relationships and corporate insurance programs. All of this had to be done in a matter of three months.
Most Positive: CFOs have different skill set, yet often we are viewed as one of the same. Tell us a story where your actions made a powerful positive change and why.
When I was European Controller for a large networking company, I had eight country controllers reporting to me. Some of the countries (like the UK and Germany) were larger contributors to the results of the overall operation than others (like Spain and Sweden). In that environment the controllers for the larger countries tended to be more influential in group decisions and the controllers for the smaller countries would sit back and complain that their needs were always overlooked because of their size. This ultimately led to a team that did not work very well together and this was reinforced by pre-existing cultural differences. One of the things I did to turn this around was to solicit ideas from the controllers concerning topics to be covered in an upcoming quarterly staff meeting. When the time for the meeting came, I appointed the controller who suggested the topic as the leader of the discussion leader and subsequent action items. This forced the smaller countries to play a much more active role in the group in identifying their issues and forced the larger countries to sit up and listen and help find solutions as they were cast in more of a “follower” role. Following this pattern in subsequent staff meeting resulted in a much more cohesive pan-European staff.
Best Business Book: What should every CEO be reading going forward in this tepid economy?
“Leadership in the Era of Economic Uncertainty: The New Rules for Getting the Right Things Done in Difficult Times” by Ram Charan, McGraw-Hill.
Funniest Fact: Tell us something funny about you.
My fraternity brothers used to call me “Howard”, which is my middle name. They thought that it was an “amusing” middle name, so they thought they could get me going if they kept calling me by that name. It worked for a while but the nickname stuck throughout college and they will even use it today in those rare occasions when we get together.
Stay tuned for our next team member’s story!