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2016 Top CEOs & CFOs

by Michelle Boyles

In every company, the buck stops somewhere, usually with the Chief Executive or Chief Financial Officer of the organization. They have a tremendous amount of responsibility and are often faced with making tough choices necessary to keep a business going. Here, seven of these Philadelphia professionals share some of their history and provide insight on what it takes to do the job.

Mary Cheeks
Senior Vice President of Finance & Chief Financial Officer, SugarHouse and Rivers Casinos

Prior to joining SugarHouse and Rivers, Cheeks worked for Caesars Entertainment (formerly Harrah’s Entertainment) for 10 years, first as the Director of Finance for Showboat Casino and finally as the Chief Financial Officer for both Harrah’s and Showboat Atlantic City. In her more than 20 years in the casino industry, she has held senior level management positions for several gaming and hospitality companies, including Resorts International Casino, SMG and Caesars Entertainment.

Q&A
What was your first job?
My first job, at age 14, was working as a dietary aide at a nursing home. I worked two hours after school every day and some Saturdays. This was a great experience and I really enjoyed the job. I learned a lot about people, responsibility and how to better handle money.

What’s the hardest professional decision you’ve ever had to make?
During a corporate restructuring at a former employer, I had to terminate otherwise good employees because of downsizing, not performance. Telling employees that they no longer had stable, family sustaining employment was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. And I’ve never gotten over it.

What’s the biggest challenge facing managers in today’s business climate?
Managing uncertainty is among the greatest challenges for today’s leaders. Uncertainty in the global economy, credit markets, regulatory environments, emerging technologies, among other factors, shifts focus to short-term results, and away from long-term investment and plans for the future. Having an informed long-term strategy is vital relative to customer trends, market trends and overall innovation initiatives; and is critical to driving healthy, steady growth for the business.

David Ertel
Chief Financial Officer, Einstein Healthcare Network

Ertel oversees finances for Einstein Healthcare Network, a 1,200-bed system that generates $1.1 billion in annual revenue. He joined Einstein in 2013 after serving as a managing director at Morgan Stanley & Company and head of its National HealthCare Group.

His investment banking background is an asset to the system in long-range capital planning. Previously, Ertel served as Budget Director of the New Jersey State Department of Human Services for five years where he managed budget planning and control activities.

Q&A
What was your first job?
I was hired as a health care budget analyst in the New Jersey Department of Human Services which created my interest in the health finance field.

What’s the hardest professional decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I’ve faced professionally was to leave investment banking after 25-plus years to take on the role of CFO at Einstein Healthcare Network. It has ultimately proven a very rewarding decision.

What’s the biggest challenge facing managers in today’s business climate?
Certainly one of the biggest challenges facing managers in the C-suite is to ensure that the company can keep up with the increasing pace of change which is affecting every industry.

Lucinda Duncalfe
Chief Executive Officer, Monetate

A seasoned entrepreneur and innovator, Duncalfe has proven experience building mature sales and operations cultures, and developing product strategies that accelerate company growth. She has served on Monetate’s Board of Directors for the past seven years, and helped Monetate create and establish a multi-billion dollar market for digital personalization. Prior to Monetate, Duncalfe was founder and CEO of Real Food Works, a start-up delivering meal programs for health based on a real food diet, using local restaurants as suppliers.

Q&A
What was your first job?
My first “real” job was as a secretary at a San Francisco-based startup called Automated Call Processing. I quickly moved on from that role to become a City Manager, then East Coast Operations Manager, then Product Manager in San Francisco. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was enjoying the main benefit of working for a startup early in your career: incredible opportunity for growth.

What’s the hardest professional decision you’ve ever had to make?
I’ve made many tough decisions throughout my career, so it’s difficult to pinpoint just one. It is always hard to believe in yourself when you know you need to let someone go—those I lost sleep over for sure. And I hope that I always do.

What’s the biggest challenge facing managers in today's business climate?
There are a few issues that are facing us right now that are new. The first that comes to mind is pace, and our always-on culture. It’s becoming very hard for managers to find a balance, and help their people find a balance. The second is managing millennials, who think about work differently from prior generations. At Monetate, we look at those challenges as opportunities. We provide almost unlimited flexibility in work hours and locations. And we focus on the deep meaning of our work, which unleashes the passion of our people.

Larry Berran
Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer, iPipeline

Larry Berran joined iPipeline in 2002, and served as President and CEO of the company through July 2008. Larry transitioned to the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer positions in July 2008 in connection with an acquisition of COSS Development Corporation. During his tenure, iPipeline has grown from $1 million in revenue to in excess of $75 million, completed six strategic acquisitions, and raised over $140 million in equity and debt from Fidelity Ventures, NewSpring Capital, Technology Crossover Ventures, Square 1 Bank and Capital One Bank for acquisitions and recapitalizations.

Q&A
What was your first job?
I starting mowing my neighbor’s lawn in fifth grade and within a few years I was doing lawn care for about 100 neighbors and put myself through college.

What’s the hardest professional decision you’ve ever had to make?
The decision to restructure iPipeline in 2002. We were a very small company at the time and losing money and the economy was still recovering. I knew it needed to be done to save the organization and today we are extremely successful so it was the right decision, but it still wasn’t easy.

What’s the biggest challenge facing managers in today’s business climate?
Managing change is the biggest challenge facing managers today. Technology and needs are rapidly changing these days and it is important to stay sharp and competitive.

Robert H. Lux
CPA, FHFMA, Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer of Temple University Health System

Lux is responsible for financial reporting, budgeting, cash and debt management, payroll, managed care contracting, information technology, revenue cycle, financial planning, decision support and investment management for the $1.4 billion dollar academic health system. He has served as vice president and CFO at Temple since July 1996. Prior to that, Lux served as assistant controller, controller, and associate vice president and CFO of Temple University Hospital. He has been at Temple since 1981.

Q&A
What was your first job?
My first real job was during the summer of 1974 prior to entering college when I worked at a restaurant on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, N.J., where I washed a lot of dishes and opened for breakfast.

What’s the hardest professional decision you have ever had to make?
The transformation of Northeastern Hospital located in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia from a full-service medical surgical community hospital, which employed 900 people, to a viable ambulatory care campus employing less than 100 people. Northeastern had been losing money for years as it tried to adjust to both a changing health care environment and a dramatically changing community. The hardest part of this decision was the impact on the employees, their families and the boarder community.

What’s the biggest challenge facing a manager in today’s business climate?
The Digital Age is transforming every industry at a very rapid pace. Anticipating, adapting and managing that amount of change is the greatest challenge affecting all leadership teams today. The not-for-profit institutions are called upon to manage that change in the context of maintaining fidelity to their social mission, which in many cases is in conflict with the business imperatives of the market.

Thomas J. Todorow
C.P.A., M.B.A., Executive Vice President for Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Todorow has been the CFO of the organization since June 2001. In this role, he oversees finance, accounts payable, payroll, billing operations, treasury, managed care contracting, supply chain and investments. Prior to joining CHOP and the Foundation, Todorow was Vice President of Finance and later Chief Financial Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care from August 1999 through May 2001.

Q&A
What was your first job?
Paper boy; if that does not qualify I was a dishwasher at a restaurant during high school.

What’s the hardest professional decision you have ever had to make?
Back in the early ‘90s when I decided to switch careers, relocated to New York and went into investment banking. I was in my early 30s at the time and had a young family.

What’s the biggest challenge facing a manager in today’s business climate?
I really think it is around time management and how a manager spends his/her time adding value to the organization. I say to myself and my staff if I/we are doing the same thing this time next year then I/we are doing something wrong because we are not adding value to the institution. If you are standing still you are losing ground. We have to challenge ourselves to make changes which improve our organizations and deliver better services/products to our customers whether external or internal.

Guy Hackney
CFO, Cape Bank

Hackney has been the Chief Financial Officer of Cape Bank, responsible for managing its $1.6 billion in assets, since January 2009. A veteran of the banking industry, he has held various other financial positions dating back to 1979. He currently serves on two nonprofit boards: CASA of Atlantic and Cape May Counties as well as the Cape Bank Charitable Foundation. Additionally, Hackney belongs to several financial associations including the Financial Managers Society. He is also a member of the CFO Committee of the New Jersey Bankers Association.

Q&A
What was your first job?
Flipping burgers at Burger Chef

What's the hardest professional decision you've ever had to make?
Releasing employees due to merger and/or downsizing

What's the biggest challenge facing managers in today's business climate?
The biggest challenge for financial institution managers is the significant increase in regulatory compliance and the related expense.

Published (and copyrighted) in Philly Biz, Volume 1, Issue 2 (January, 2016).
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