Mark Quinn has spent the last seven years as the CFO for the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), a privately owned membership and business organization network for the promotional products industry. Recently named CFO Of The Year Finalist by the Philadelphia Business Journal, Quinn manages the day-to-day liquidity needs of ASI and ensures compliance to standards and regulations. He is also a founding steering committee member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the CFO Leadership Council.
Describe your career path for us including your advice along the way for other CFOs interested in this progression.
My career has been a culmination of experiences. I started out in the transportation industry in the internal audit department of Conrail. This position not only enabled me to receive broad corporate experience, but it also introduced me to team management. I was provided with the opportunity to rebuild a team within Conrail’s contracts department, develop a business strategy, incorporate technology, and lead our department to become the benchmark for contracts administration within the industry. I would recommend internal audit to individuals who are either starting out in the field or at a crossroads in their career.
Next, I moved into an operations management role where my team was responsible for the direction of the day to day utilization of intermodal equipment. This position allowed me the opportunity to learn to use industry associations to affect change. Moving into operations for even a short period is critical to better understand what it takes for financial results.
Following my experience at Conrail, I worked at a technology company owned by Reed Elsevier, where I started out managing the business planning functions. When the organization was split and sold, in part, to Thomas Publishing Company I was named CFO of the newly formed company. This position was an incredible opportunity to work with a very experienced CEO to develop and implement a strategy from which to build the company.
As the CFO of ASI I have established a team of which I am very proud, as we are true partners to the rest of the organization. We are a family owned business and our achievements are a result of providing the products and services that our members need to be successful.
What’s exciting for you as a CFO? What do you enjoy the most about your profession?
Most exciting to me is the creation of value to my company. Value is defined as many things: the establishment of an incredible team that partners with others to best serve customers, the implementation of technology to make a company more efficient, the successful resolution of a customer inquiry, or the insight as to how each team member serves the strategy of a company. Whatever the shape or form, it is the value produced that keeps me motivated to achieve more.
What I enjoy most about our profession is that it is uniquely positioned to understand the drivers of a business and we are able to partner with management to set strategies and develop tactical plans and measurements to achieve them. All of this culminates into the continued success of our companies.
What’s the one thing that you could do without as a CFO?
I would have to say taxes in their present form. The tax codes are continuously changing, both at the state and federal levels, and it requires considerable attention to understand them and ensure compliance while still trying to grow a business. Smaller companies are not afforded the luxury of tax advisors, which gives them a disadvantage.
The CFO/Board landscape changes all the time. How do you keep yourself educated on the latest developments that affect your profession?
Through networking / CPE events, especially those offered by the CFO Leadership Council, I surround myself with those who know more than I do, as I continue to develop relationships outside of my company.
As you work in multiple capacities in your company, how do you stay on top of everything?
I have built an incredible team that does a super job and communicates freely with me. I encourage this team to continually be curious and challenge the current process. Together we have established processes, controls, and metrics to ensure that we stay on top of everything.
Describe your ‘Aha!’ moment, or a crowning achievement to your career thus far.
Every day is full of new experiences, some more memorable than others. But all of them culminate into how you deal with the next experience.
Any final words that you’d like to share with our CFOs?
Never stop being curious and enjoy the journey.