Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
I’m Kathleen Quinn, a CFO for nearly a decade and a Finance and Accounting professional for well over two decades. During that time I’ve enjoyed developing a deep knowledge in the finances and operations of companies in industries including manufacturing, distribution and services in both domestic and international markets. In my current role as an Operating Partner at a private equity fund, I am leveraging my experience and network to help portfolio companies create value for the fund's investors.
Some of the organizations I’ve been privileged to serve include Coopers & Lybrand, Quaker Oats, Ameritech, John Crane, RR Donnelly, ABN AMRO, and ORNUA (Kerrygold).
I began my career as an Auditor with Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) and have served most recently as an interim CFO for a variety of companies here in the greater Chicago Metropolitan area. Prior to my recent consulting I served as ORNUA’s CFO for nearly eight years.
Peers and clients will tell you that I’m a proven consensus builder skilled in promoting collaboration between business units to effectively grow organizations. By functioning as a key Senior Manager and trusted Advisor to Boards of Directors, I deliver a big picture focus balanced by a deep understanding of the details that drive results.
Today’s CFO is most effective when he or she can effectively communicate complex financial information clearly and succinctly to key non-finance stakeholders. As a leader I strive to do just that.
I’m on LinkedIn to network with companies and professionals who know the value of financial leaders that offer demonstrated proficiency in leading organizations, business case development, working capital planning, analyses, sales support and cash flow forecasting.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
One of my favorite success stories happened while driving my daughter to lacrosse practice while having a pointed conversation with a colleague about understanding financial results. She said to me that she thought it was really cool that I could explain things to people and they listened to me. She told me I was a great CFO. I am member to keep up advocacy for myself and all women in all of our roles.
What project have you worked on that you’re most proud of? Why?
This is a super geeky finance one. Before I left my role as the CFO for Kerrygold, I had to create a working capital model that then resulted in bonus targets for the executive and management teams that I was leaving. I was super concerned about making sure it was both a stretch to achieve corporate goals and be understandable to the cross functional leadership team. About 18 months after I left, I called my former colleagues and was delighted to hear that the model was such a success that it was replicated throughout the company.
We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?
When I was leaving business school, I interviewed with Goldman Sachs and really did not understand what they were talking about and so I went in to public accounting. People thought I was crazy not to pursue investment banking. Public accounting teed me up for a long and successful career in accounting, corporate finance, internal audit, controller and eventually a CFO. I took all of that experience and then went into CFO consulting and coaching for about seven years. Recently, I bundled all of that together and now work for a private equity fund helping portfolio company CFOs improve the financial leadership needed to help the company excel. All along the way I chose companies and roles that provided flexibility when need for all kinds of personal situations.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
What I am loving about my private equity job is that the purpose of it is crystal clear - create value for investors. And, its broad enough that exploring ways within portfolio companies to do this is really about accelerating and supporting profitable growth. It is focused on the future and not on what used to be.
What is your morning ritual?
First, I find the coffee!!! Then, I make sure my senior in high school is up, showered and has breakfast. She is our youngest and so this is our last school year (even with Covid she is in-person) with her at home. Then, most days I write, reflect and plan for the day using my Passion Planner (that I heard about several years ago on the Ellevate Podcast).
What is your favorite social media site? Why?
I have taken to Pinterest lately as its no opinions, no news, few words and lots of creativity all over the place.
What would you say your personal superpower is?
My personal superpower is sleep! When I am well rested between a good night sleep or a well needed nap, I am happier, healthier and do my best personal and professional work.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
From the Nike ad of the early '90s - Just Do It. From my dad - always shine your shoes and look people in the eye From my mom - choose when you use your work voice From my husband - I got you From my kids - you can do it Mom!
What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?
The arc of being a working mom is long and gradual. The years go by fast and the days can drag. The best factor for success are those in your circle of trust in parenting - co-parents, families, neighbors, friends, educators and their administrators. Its not easy to do this and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Its a sign of an open mind and an acknowledgement that we often do our best when working together. Take me time when you can and each person defines this differently and do what is right for you.
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