– My Story –
Shoes, Mixtapes and a Car Wash
Since my childhood, I dreamed of building a great business. In the early days of e-commerce, I learned the basics of supply and demand by selling rare sneakers on eBay. I learned the dynamics of marketing and pricing when running a two-person car wash business. I even broke into the music industry by selling a mixtape of my friend’s music, needless to say, it never went platinum.
Pump it Up: A Gas Station Story
Then in the early 2000s, my father became an owner of a gas station. I was ecstatic – it was a real business, a family business, that I could help manage. While my optimism was high and my mind always thinking about ways to grow the business, it was a grind. When not in school, I spent many hours pumping gas, working registers and taking inventory of stock – summer was not spent on break, but rather a time of booming business since it was peak travel season. Eventually, long hours (open 24/7) and increasing rent made running the business physically unsustainable and unprofitable; my father sold the station. It was my first major encounter of failure in business. Though I did not fully realize it at the time, my decision to pursue a career in business was influenced by a desire to unravel what went wrong with my family’s business, and to use that knowledge in my future business endeavors.
Around the (Finance) World in a Year
I vacillated between majors in college and graduated with a dual degree in the liberal arts, but my heart told me to pursue a career in business. I took a chance and applied to Safeway as part of the inaugural “Finance Leadership Program,” which seeks recent college graduates looking to start a career in finance. Lucky for me, the Program Lead welcomed non-business majors. After rounds of interviewing and demonstrating my willingness to pursue business despite my non-traditional background, I was hired.
I soaked information like a sponge. For one year I rotated through various finance departments – supply chain, external reporting, business unit and sales finance – and was exposed to how each impacted the business. I gained the technical skills required to efficiently manipulate data and complete financial analysis. I became an Excel geek.
From Excel Geek to Finance Lead
I quickly outstripped my responsibilities at Safeway and looked for a new challenge at Del Monte Foods (now JM Smucker). There I matured from Excel geek and basic Financial Analyst to Finance Manager leading forecasts to Finance Director with full P&L responsibility for a high-growth business unit. Beyond the technical skills and financial acumen gained, I matured as a leader. From learning how to negotiate with retailers, selling ideas internally to secure investment funding, or making high-impact decisions with imperfect information, I learned a mark of a great leader is not only having the skills to get the job done, but the grit to see the job get done right. I believe in the impact finance can have on a business – the power of being able to influence decisions with financial insight and being able to communicate the story behind the numbers. Ultimately, finance plays an integral role in helping businesses evolve.
Leveraging experience and skills gained at Fortune 500 companies, including marketing and sales, I’ve cultivated my passion projects into side businesses. These projects are rooted in my adolescent days and my desire to build a great business. Upon self-reflection, what I have learned about myself is a desire to deliver value to an audience. I love creating things of immense value and architecting solutions to problems. Whether it’s analyzing how to develop a brand campaign with the highest ROI, helping people discover the coolest birthday candle or preparing families for emergencies, opportunities to build something of value is what fires me up every day.
I would love to be able to talk with you on how we can build something great.
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