Education Planner – MBA Finance

A Day in the Life of David K. Executive vice president and chief financial officer of a major hospitality company. This post comes in the series Education Planner – MBA Finance.

What I Do

I am responsible for the financial affairs of my company. It is my responsibility to ensure compliance with GAAP [generally accepted accounting principles] and SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] regulations, to maintain adequate funding for operations, to strategically plan capital structure, to determine the strategic plan for the company, and to communicate all of these to the investment community and our board of directors.
What I Enjoy Most

I like developing and executing the strategic and operating plan for the company. Creating something and seeing the effects of my decisions are very rewarding. Students who struggle with math issues should take a closer look at  some programs that offer free online math lessons to brush up their knowledge 

What I Enjoy Least

The hardest part is that we are in a turnaround situation. There’s desire to get results quickly, yet it is more important to have patience than haste as we look for the best ways to improve our business.

Why I Chose This Career

From my first job in asset management, I became more and more interested in financial decision making—why a company might need a certain amount of equity or fixed income, for example. Then, later on, Wall Street after the MBA, I was able to gain a more strategic outlook, and I focused on the hospitality industry. This position combines all of those skills I developed and moved me from advisor to principal.

Desirable Traits to Be Successful in This Career

You must have a broad base of skills—it’s not just a finance job. A solid understanding of the business drivers is important to think with numbers but to think nonlinearly; you have to consider many factors all at once. You have to be a self-starter and a person who can stand up in a potential investment situation and say, “That may not be the best path.” You must realize that numbers provide the most compelling arguments, but you must also be able to communicate those numbers with confidence.

Words of Advice If You Are Considering This Career Path

Look for ways to be well rounded in all the business disciplines. Practice your communication skills—especially creating the compelling case, backed by numbers.

What I Did Before This (Including Pre-MBA and Post-MBA Jobs)

With a degree in economics, I got a job with Bankers Trust in asset management. This was an administrative role—proofing financial reports. But three years of that gave me comfort with the concepts of finance and taught me the value of attention to detail and the need for precision. It also convinced me that I wanted to pursue an investment-related career with an MBA. With the MBA, I joined Deutsche Bank. On Wall Street, I covered real estate and lodging in the mergers and acquisitions group for five years. This was a strategic advisory role that prepared me for the job I now have as a decision maker for a hospitality company. I feel that going from the advisor role to the decision-maker role was important in my development—enabling me to see issues from both sides.

Educational Background (Undergraduate, MBA, Other)

  • MBA, SUNY, Finance, 2012
  • Bachelor of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Economics, 2006

In MBA Programs, I’d Suggest You Check
Look for not only a strong finance curriculum, but good marketing, operations, organization design, communications, and strategy curricula. It’s the ability to synthesize and communicate all of the business variables that enable you to do strategic business development and improve your corporate bottom line.