Welcome to the next in our series of ‘5 Questions With…,” an article series that profiles CFO Leadership Council members as they share their insights on their personal journey.
In this article, we chat with Linda Cozzi, CFO of the Philadelphia Cricket Club and Philadelphia Business Journal’s “CFO Of The Year” award recipient. Linda has also been instrumental in the growth of the Philadelphia CFO Leadership Council Chapter.
Since Linda Cozzi’s arrival at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, its revenues have increased from $11.5 million to $18.3 million and the organization has completed almost $20 million in capital improvements. Its usage and membership numbers are at the 161-year-old club’s highest level ever.
Describe your career path for us including your advice along the way
I’ve been driven to excel since I was a child, which probably stemmed from playing sports and having my dad as the coach. Since the beginning of my career, I have never stopped learning – I was always doing the next position before it was offered to me, and I have been promoted in just about every company for which I’ve worked. It’s important to note that I didn’t wait for the training to be offered; I asked. This is an important distinction. I was aggressive and hungry, and promoted largely due to my willingness to take on more responsibility.
Some of the best advice I ever received came, fortunately, early in my career, when a mentor told me that a key to better results was working as a partner, rather than just a monitor, of the operations team. This advice really helped shape my career and set me apart from most of my peers. Throughout my career, I have been a mentor, partner, and advisor to the operations team, and the result has been great relationships and successful performance. I have become a better financial manager because I stopped reporting numbers and started telling the story behind them.
My advice outside of keeping up with your technical skills is to be a team player. The partnership you form with the rest of the organization will not only make you better, but will make the organization better.
What’s exciting for you as a CFO?
The partnership I have with the operations team. I absolutely love working with innovative operators; their ideas and out of the box thinking is exciting for me. The lines between the CFO and COO have become so blurred, and I love it. Being able to understand and interpret the financial impact of some of the crazy ideas is the best part of my position. Watching the team succeed, and knowing that you are part of it, is what keeps me motivated.
How do you keep yourself educated on the latest developments that affect your profession?
I decided to go outside of my industry to get the education I desired. I joined the Board of the CFO Leadership Council, as well as am a member of other CFO organizations. I have also joined CMAA (Club Managers Association of America) to learn more about the operations side of our industry. This mixture has really helped me stay engaged and continue to grow.
As you work in multiple capacities in your company, how do you stay on top of everything?
In my first CFO position, I thought that I needed to do everything. “No” was not in my vocabulary. I worked A LOT and completed a lot of work, but none of it was great. I ended up sacrificing my work-life balance while never really feeling good about what I was accomplishing. I learned a tremendous amount from that experience. I learned to delegate more, both for my own sanity and for the development of my staff. I learned to say “no” or at least “not now.” I learned to only promise what I knew I could deliver at a high level.
Describe your “Aha” moment or crowning achievement to your career thus far.
I have met most of my career goals, but I don’t consider any of them “crowning” moments. Each time I meet a goal, I’m setting a new one. I have received Manager of the Quarter, a finance award, and most recently, CFO of the Year from the Philadelphia Business Journal. I became a CFO before I was 40, which was one of my early goals. I still feel like I can do more. Honestly, I hope I continue to raise the bar for myself and never settle.
Any final words that you’d like to share with our CFOs?
Never stop learning! Give back – take the time to mentor someone.