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He also turns this critical eye on the organization itself and never hesitates to cut through old ways of thinking. “There are no sacred cows with Phil,” says Christensen. “Whatever may impede progress or slow growth—whether it is a process we follow, a long-held company policy, [or a] 100-year business practice—if it doesn’t work in today’s market, Phil is quick to accept the realities and lead the company to change.”
This active approach is a result of Johnson’s belief that the CFO is more than the person who produces monthly revenue reports. “The CFO’s role has expanded into a dynamic leadership role focused on business strategy, team management, financial planning and analysis, accounting policies, and operational decisions,” he says. “The CFO should serve as member of the executive leadership team and participate in key decisions.”
CFO, Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce
Tom Klc envisioned becoming an attorney when he discovered he had a hidden zeal for finance. “My father (a practicing corporate attorney) said the best background for corporate law was accounting. Somehow, attaching dollar signs to math made it enjoyable and understandable. I fell in love with accounting and have never looked back.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Utah and an MBA from Westminster College, Klc began his finance career in the real estate industry—an industry that proved both challenging and rewarding, especially in recent years. But Klc never allowed the economic volatility to slow him—or Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce—down. He viewed the turbulent time as an opportunity to outsmart competitors and accelerate forward.
According to Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce’s COO Rodney Gibson, Klc’s leadership at the firm’s financial helm was integral to the organization’s growth (not just stability) during the economic downturn.
“Tom Klc has the ability, experience and confidence to make known his vision for building a better company. This is coupled with the pure skill it takes to put that into action day after day, month after month and year after year,” says Gibson. “By all accounts, he is not a good CFO, he is a great CFO.”
Klc worked alongside Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce’s CEO to secure several mergers, acquisitions and sales. He also helped the organization more than double its transaction volume, as well as open four new offices. During the past year, the firm experienced 19 percent revenue growth, 80 percent net income growth and 111 percent transaction volume growth (from 2007/2008 to 2012). Today, Cushman & Wakefield | Commerce is the largest independently owned and operated commercial real estate firm in the Western United States.
“I love the strategic side of accounting,” Klc says. “The most exciting part of my work is looking at new opportunities. Whether we’re acquiring new markets, or making process improvements, I love finding new ways to support growth.”
Klc says key to a chief financial officer’s success is considering oneself a forward-thinking strategic partner. “Being a CFO is not just about reporting what happened in the past,” he says. “The CFO needs to be a strategic partner to the management team, helping them to understand where the company’s been, and more importantly where they’re headed.”
Flexibility is another key trait of an effective CFO, he says. “Accounting is a fairly straightforward science. Business is messy, unorganized and usually doesn’t follow the rules. Don’t bend the rules, but find ways to support flexibility.”
James C. Dotter
Vice President of Finance, InsideSales.com, Inc.
James C. Dotter’s interest in finance began at an early age. When he was just eight years old, his family was negatively affected by the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. Even at such a young age, Dotter was changed by the experience. He was determined to always maintain control of finances for the rest of his life. He had a knack for math and a love of business, and it seemed natural to have a career in finance. He earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management.
In college, Dotter believed he would need to leave Utah and make his career in a major metro hub somewhere, but he soon recognized that Utah was experiencing remarkable growth in the tech sector and becoming a business hub itself. He decided he wanted to take part in the expansion of Utah’s economy. “Nothing is more rewarding than adding jobs and credibility to Utah businesses,” Dotter says. Since leaving college, he has had plenty of experience creating jobs in Utah.