10 Qs: For Market Force CFO Shauna Callahan, Tech Change Is a Motivator
FINANCE INTERVIEW: How quickly IT changes,and the move toward international standards, head the list of challenges she sees in the job.
At Market Force Information Inc., CFO Shauna Callahan finds adventure in the way her company is growing –- including through two recent acquisitions -- and how it helps client companies transform their use of the customer intelligence they collect.
Market Force’s approach is to study that client customer experience, applying research methodologies, quality control processes and other skills to help improve operations and improve return on investment for their customer-loyalty dollars.
- Age: 42
- Time with company: 4 years
- Education: Bachelor of Science in Accounting, University of Colorado
- Company headquarters: Louisville, Colo.
- Number of countries: The company has a physical presence in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, with coverage in all the major European countries as well, including France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia
- Number of employees total: 500
- Number of employees the CFO oversees: 11
- CFO's areas of responsibility: accounting, financial records and reporting
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
I started out of college with Arthur Andersen here in Denver. It was a fantastic learning experience, but after spending three years there I knew I wanted to work in a company where I could more directly influence business decisions. So I went to work for a company called Coram Healthcare. That was a consolidation of four different companies and it was extremely challenging, but I was hooked on figuring out how to pull all of that together. A couple of years later, I was approached to do something similar in Australia for Corporate Express. They were rolling up nine companies and I jumped at the chance to get involved.
I came back to Colorado in 2000. Since then, I've been fortunate to get quite a range of experience working for small companies, large companies, public and private companies. That experience has really allowed me to be open to new opportunities. I thrive on challenge and that has led me to make career changes to have increasing levels of opportunity in new environments.
2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?
Who I worked for has been a huge factor for me in where I've chosen to work. I can honestly say that every boss I've worked for has been influential for me. The one that jumps to mind was my CFO at Corporate Express, Neil Guest. He challenged me to do things faster and smarter. The second week on the job he erased our entire [organizational] work chart, which was about 50 people, and asked what we would do if we could start over from scratch. That was really empowering.
In addition, he paired up accounting with the sales executives to develop a return-on-investment model with our largest potential customers and he gave each of us in accounting a sales quota. What a way to focus on how to add value to our customers.
3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?
The challenges are multifold. First is clearly the speed of change, especially around technology. How does your company stay ahead of the curve, how does technology potentially disrupt the market you're in and how can you make sure that your technology is being disruptive?
Second is the level of regulation in terms of financial accounting standards. You throw international standards and tax considerations into the mix, and it's really challenging.