A full-house crowd of 150 attended the Business Journal’s second annual 2014 CFO of the Year Awards recently at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk. The crowd brought a lively energy that the award candidates seized upon and amplified with spontaneous remarks at the dais.
If the evening had a casualty, it was any regard of accounting as staid, stuffy and by-the-book boring. Rather, Greenwich Hospital CFO/Yale New Haven Health System Vice President Eugene Colucci said, “It used to be you solved for X and it was a black-and-white situation. Not anymore. You have to be involved from the very beginning. What you can’t do is tell somebody, ‘That’s a really bad idea you’ve got.’ You want to be involved right away so you can be a backbone and move the process forward.”
To do that, at least in part, Colucci said, “You have to get inside people’s heads.”
He identified optimism as a key component of a successful CFO. Other attributes of success included being a realist, a psychologist and a bricklayer. Of the bricklaying, he said, “You get in early and build; you don’t destroy.”
Acting, too, is an important CFO tool, Colucci said. “You tell them their ideas are wonderful. You have to keep that poker face. Then you get back to your office and shut the door. And then you explode.”
The winner in the large-size business category was Patrick McCabe, Yale New Haven Health System’s senior vice president for corporate finance and CFO of Bridgeport Hospital. The medium-size business winner was Richard Luce, financial team leader, Stamford-based Rosco Laboratories. The winner in the small-business category was Douglas Polistena, general manager and CFO, The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury.
The other nominees were Jeffrey Gulbin, CFO, Stamford-based Finacity Corp.; Ashley Marks, CFO, defense aircraft and support business unit, Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.; Saeed Nasiri, CFO, Greenwich Hospital; Mark Peterson, vice president, finance and materials, Shelton-based OEM Controls Inc.; and Mike Walsh, CFO, United States Beverage in Stamford.
The sponsors were White Plains, N.Y.-based Rakow Commercial Realty Group (with a Stamford office) and beverage company Heineken USA; Stratford-based helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky; the Stamford office of McGladrey – Assurance, Tax, Consulting; TD Bank, with offices in Stamford, Darien and Norwalk; and Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich, which showcased a pair of two-door cars at the mansion’s front door. Marianne Wilson’s Complete Catering from Wilton provided the food.
The judges were Patricia Poli, associate professor of accounting, Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University; Peter Gioia, economist and vice president, Connecticut Business and Industry Association; and Arthur Renner, executive director, Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants.