The Faces Of CFOLC ~ Meet Debbie Dunn
Our team members make all the difference! The CFO Leadership Council (CFOLC), established in 2006, has a team that spans across the US & Canada supporting each other, our chapters & national initiatives 100% virtually. Through these interviews written in their own words, you’ll meet these innovative, driven and creative team members who make CFOLC what it is today.
Meet Debbie, Marketing Director for all of our California chapters (San Diego, LA, Orange County, San Francisco, Silicon Valley). As a dynamic leader and team player, Debbie brings her vast marketing prowess to our team & to the broader CFOLC community. Here’s her story.
Debbie, tell us your story. Your path here at CFOLC & beyond
A Series of Fortunate Events
Strangely, 25 years of marketing experience mostly in the children’s consumer products business has brought me to the CFO Leadership Council. But nothing is truly accidental in a career. Like I tell our senior financial executive members, it’s all about networking. Through my career to date, I’ve been fortunate enough to work for, and with, some truly talented individuals. Many are brilliant, or bordering on brilliant. In my opinion, it isn’t worth the time spent if you can’t learn from someone. And if I do anything really well, it’s that I surround myself with people who are much wiser and more creative than myself. Then latch onto them to see if just a small bit of their superpowers rub-off on me.
Luck Be a Lady
I’ve been so lucky to have been mentored by so many individuals in my career. Former bosses, colleagues, and partners. Male and female alike. And as stated prior, I’ve got a bit of a Spidey-sense for picking the good ones. But my one rule always applies when choosing a boss. You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be the kind of person I’d be proud to introduce to my grandma. Narcissists need not apply.
Over the years, I’ve also worked on some of the most interesting (and varied) brands. Blue chip consumer brands like Arm & Hammer, McDonald’s and Disney. Automotive brands like Dodge and Vespa. Sports brands like The Professional Bull Riders and WWE. Charity organizations like The Humane Society of the United States, Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association, Spark of Love and more. Children’s entertainment brands like Power Rangers, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and many more. Mega tech apps and talent like Talking Tom & Friends, and Snoop Dogg (I negotiated a deal for a male-targeted line of dog toys and apparel with him), and more.
“Debbie is such a delight to work with. She puts 200%+ into everything she touches. Her creativity constantly amazes me as does her ability and willingness to always think outside of the box. I am so fortunate to have her on the team.”
Stacy Hall, California Regional Director, CFO Leadership Council
All Roads Lead to the CFO
Which brings me to The CFO Leadership Council, and how I networked my way in the door. Years ago, I worked with Stacy Hall, Reginal Director for CFOLC at a toy company called JAKKS Pacific. Long story short, I happened to catch up with her at just the right time, and she asked me to meet Jack about working with her as the marketing director for SoCal. Two years later, Stacy and I partner together closely as team to grow five California chapters for our members and sponsors. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. Each chapter in our Golden State has its own distinct personality, which keeps us on our toes. I like to refer to myself as Stacy’s “Robin.” Holy cow Batman!
And going back to surrounding myself with brilliance, CFOLC definitely puts me in the right place. Our financial leaders are the elite of business society, and I’m proud to be the dumbest person in the room at every event.
On a personal note, I’m a California girl, the fourth generation in my family from Los Angeles County. The only people that say there are no native Californian’s are transplants! In 2020, I celebrated my 20-year wedding anniversary to my Minneapolis transplant, who still let’s people know that he’s from Minnesota; even though he’s been in California since 1983. (Many more years than he ever spent in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.) We have two children that are “practically perfect in every way” as Mary Poppins would say, and they are the light of my life. Our dog Trudy is 15 lbs. of fear and fury, and she’s spoiled rotten. My family means the world to me, and I thank God for them every day.
I’m a sci-fi junkie. Right now, I’m watching “The Boys” on Amazon and “Mars” on Netflix. My favorite movie of all-time is Stars Wars (Episode IV) – the real one! Don’t even get me started on the prequels.
Star Wars or Star Trek? Both. My favorite Star Wars character? C3PO. I know that’s weird but I always have a thing for the comic foil. My favorite Captain? Picard. (I don’t need any of your hate mail Kirk fanboys.) Favorite Marvel movie character? Thor. (No explanation needed.) My husband and I both share this passion. He’s a collector, but I definitely do not share his collection-obsession. We have a cataloged comic book collection in our closet, thousands strong. I always tell him that they aren’t really worth anything until you sell them… I’ve been known to attend Star Wars Celebration, and a sci-fi convention or two. Not into cosplay, but I love seeing the 501st in action.
“I have met, few, if any people in my career with the energy level and enthusiasm that Debbie brings to the CFO Leadership Council. If you attend a meeting in one of Debbie’s chapters, there is an energy in the room that is hard to describe, but I think her attitude runs off on other people and creates a fun networking environment for members and sponsors”
Jack McCullough, Founder & President, CFO Leadership Council
Why should CFOs get involved with CFOLC?
From what I’ve learned from working with senior financial leaders the last two years is that they are the hardest working people on the planet. They are strategic, thorough, honest and forthright. Not just because they have to be, but because that is just who they are. Many CFOs hold much of the burden of their company’s success on their shoulders. Which means, they’ve also got their heads mired in the details. So much so, that they are generally not the personalities that do a great job with networking. The facts are that the average public company CFO lifespan is 18 months. The average stint for a private company CFO is three years. That means that CFOs and other senior financial executives should always be on the lookout.
That’s where the CFO Leadership Council comes in. Not only do we have fantastic learning opportunities that are CPE accredited, but we have a network of thousands of like-minded individuals to learn from. Our CFO Connect is an exclusive and unique Q&A forum where members send out messages to each other in real-time. The knowledge gleaned here unbelievable.
How are you all staying afloat during COVID? Any lessons learned or silver linings?
Instacart. Instacart. Instacart. I need to buy stock. I’m going to quote one of our amazing panelists Simon Davis of Newmark Knight Frank we had just recently on a Silicon Valley panel who said “When crisis happens, innovation excels.”
Do you have a favorite story about CFOLC?
One of our Los Angeles members Russ Whittenburg is the CFO of Forest Lawn. Forest Lawn Cemetery to be specific. He pitched Stacy and I on doing our LA chapter social there. As you can imagine, we were skeptical. Turns out that Forest Lawn is a Los Angeles landmark location originally built in 1906. It is home to a small world-renowned art museum and statuary. The company owns and displays the two largest religious paintings in the Western hemisphere at that location. Who knew?
Russ took me on a 3 ½ hour backstage tour of the place. It was spectacular! Forest Lawn is also home to the largest collection of stained glass outside of Italy, and other stunning works of art. Since then, I brag about it to everyone I know. It is a must-see if you come to Los Angeles. Not to mention, it’s free. The only free thing in LA.
And yes, we did end up having our Los Angeles Chapter social there at the museum. It was fabulous.
What is your favorite part of your job? Something you are most proud of? Your “why”
My favorite part of my job is working with my partner in crime Stacy Hall, Regional Director for California CFOLC (Batman.) But I have to say overall, that it is really amazing to work with so many other female cape crusaders in the group. I can go to any one of them for help. The team is so supportive of each other. It is such relief to be able to count on your teammates.
And the CFOLC dudes are pretty wicked-cool too. (What do you expect? CFOLC started in Boston.)
Sideways – G or Hustla?
Did I mention that I’m part of Generation-X? Yeah, no one talks about us. It went from “The Greatest Generation”, to “Baby Boomers”, straight to “Millennials.” No love for the Atari generation. At least “Stranger Things” made us feel appreciated.
With five chapters, a husband, and two kids, I am the first to admit that I don’t have a lot of time for anything else. I do have one other client that I’ll give a nice plug to called Art of Everyone. They are a one-of-a-kind experiential marketing company that is like nothing else on the market. As you can imagine, with social distancing and government rules on events, it has been a bit of a challenge for my talented and creative friends at AOE during Covid. Please check them out and tell them I sent you. I can probably get you the CFOLC discount. https://www.artofeveryone.com/
If you had a crystal ball, what lies ahead?
Hopefully a transporter, so that we can travel and keep a safe social distance from one another.
Remote work woes
Two words: distance learning.
California Marketing Director, CFO Leadership Council
Managing Director, The Brand Guild “Fearless Brand Representation”
Debbie has 25 years of experience in consumer products business development, marketing, brand management, promotions, public relations, social media, event planning and membership development for many high-profile brands. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from The University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California State University at Fullerton. Debbie is a member of Women in Animation and Women in Toys, Licensing & Entertainment.
About The CFO Leadership Council
What began as a close knit experiment back in 2006 is now a global community, 2000+ members & 26 chapters strong. The CFO Leadership Council offers both live & online programs that feature expert panels and interactive sessions that drive meaningful conversation and leadership development among our membership. Our collection of leadership development resources similar to this article contain pragmatic insights and advice sourced directly from our members and industry experts. Recordings of CFOLC webcasts are made available to our current CFOLC Premium & Virtual members. For a full list of programs, visit www.cfolc.com.
CFO Leadership Conference, CFO Masterclass
The CFO Leadership Council’s 10th Annual National Conference “CFO Masterclass” will be held Nov 11-13, 2020 online and is designed to be all about the CFO. It will explore what you need to be a Masterclass CFO in today’s fast-paced disruptive world. It will provide the specific take-aways that will give you a jump start for entering the 1st years of the 2020s decade. This year includes two full days of programming – roundtable discussions, inspiring keynotes, and expert-led interactive panels crafted to dig deep into key leadership areas and provide you with the specific take-aways that will give you a jump start heading into the 1st years of the 2020s decade. Network and learn alongside 500+ of your peers across North America. NASBA Certified CPE Offered. Reserve your seat today. www.cfolcconference.com
CFOLC Premium Members attend FREE, Virtual & CXO NOW members receive 50% off conference ticket. It’s a great time to join!
About CFOLC Membership
The CFO Leadership Council is a community dedicated to empowering our members to grow and thrive. We provide insights needed to overcome any challenge a CFO may face and meaningful connectivity to a dynamic community of peers in a way that is most convenient and beneﬁcial. Who are our members? CFOs, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents of Finance, Director of FP&A, CAO, Controllers, Directors of Finance, and other senior financial leaders make up our membership and are invited to join. Start engaging today at www.cfolc.com/membership.
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