What a great opportunity to gain some insight from one of our original members! A longtime member of The Boston CFO Leadership Council, Dave Butler has been with us from the beginning, back in the days when we were The CFO Roundtable. In fact, he vividly remembers our first meeting, almost 10 years ago, when attendees were scrambling to move their cars out of the MIT parking lot before they were towed. We have certainly come a long way since then!
Here are some of Dave’s thoughts on the industry.
Describe your career path for us, including your advice along the way for other CFOs interested in this progression.
Because I am a non-CPA CFO, it has not always been an easy career path. As a creative type who thinks outside the box, I believe that there is always another solution to any problem. However, in today’s “check off the box” world, this philosophy does not always work. My career advice to anyone looking to get ahead in the industry is to become a CPA early on and work as an analyst for a while. Then, if you get the opportunity, move on to a treasury role.
What’s exciting for you as a CFO? What do you enjoy the most about your profession?
Never knowing what challenges each day will bring. Are we going to buy a company today? Are we going to be bought? What situations and problems will I encounter with the sales force? These are just a few of the issues for which you must be prepared in a moment’s notice.
What’s the one thing that you could do without as a CFO?
The never ending changes that seem to be coming out of FASB and the SEC on almost a weekly basis. They are creating more problems than they are solving. For example, consider what they are doing with the IFRS and the now schism between public and private company reporting. At one point there was one GAAP standard for all companies and it should be this way again.
The CFO/Board landscape changes all the time. How do you keep yourself educated on the latest developments that affect your profession?
This is an area in which The CFO Leadership Council excels. Issues are brought to our attention before they become problems, helping us to be aware of all of the changes going on in the industry.
Describe your ‘Aha!’ moment, or a crowning achievement to your career.
First, here’s a bit of career advice, though, perhaps not for the faint hearted. If you are not a CPA, you can pretty much give up on being a CFO, at least for a public company. Those words are difficult to hear, but I think that they are truthful.
As for my “Aha!” moments, they can be defined by the successful sale of a company or, more specifically, taking Sequoia Systems public.
And, on a personal note about Dave from our team –
If you mention Dave’s name at one of our Boston meetings, more than likely you’ll get to hear a great story about him. For example, our president Becky Blackler will tell you that he always remembers her children’s names, as well as the big Christmas presents that she has bought for them through the years. And, in a world that moves at the speed of light, it’s those special moments that stay with us.
“Dave has been part of The CFO Leadership Council since its inception,” states founder Jack McCullough. “His advice to me was critical when I first founded the group, and he was an original member of both the board of directors and the Boston steering committee, and he was at our first meeting. It’s no exaggeration to say that the group would not have lasted beyond a few informal meetings if not for Dave.”
But, regardless of the story or memory, what you’ll always hear about is Dave’s kindness and generosity. And, while we don’t get to see him as much as we’d like these days, we hope that he knows how much we respect and admire him, and we thank him for all he’s done for us.
From all of us to you, Dave, thank you!