Five winners were announced at CFO of the Year Westchester County on Oct. 5. The Westchester County Business Journal and sponsor RSM recognized the winners along with eight finalists at the annual event at Whitby Castle in Rye.
Dee DelBello, publisher of Westfair Communications, opened the program speaking about the role of CFOs, who help make difficult financial decisions.
“There’s no doubt CFO is a vital part of every business management team,” DelBello said, “That’s why RSM and Greater Hudson Bank have partnered with Westfair Communications to bring you this very important awards program.”
In addition to RSM, sponsors included Greater Hudson Bank, Rakow Commercial Realty Group, Val’s Putnam Wines and Liquors and Westchester Talk Radio.
The winners, who were chosen by a panel of judges, were Kara Battinelli, CFO and chief operating officer of Paragon Uniform & Apparel Inc.; Kevin Conroy, CFO and chief population health officer at CareMount Medical P.C.; Luis Massiani, senior executive vice president and CFO at Sterling National Bank and Ken Walter, senior vice president and CFO at The Westchester Bank. The new Emerging Financial Leader award was presented to Hiral Shah, financial advisor and certified financial planner at JPMorgan Chase Private Client. Winners and finalists spoke about the importance of their coworkers and the challenges and joys of being a financial leader.
Jerry Landau, tax partner and Westchester market leader at RSM, who presented awards to the honorees, said CFOs are not only involved in strategy, but need to be a “forward-thinking game-changer.”
“A game-changer is someone who is very proactive and less reactive,” Landau said. “They must be a mentor, a leader, someone who empowers their entire organization.”
Tom Cornelius, CFO of Greater Hudson Bank and a 2014 winner who also presented awards, said he enjoys those aspects of being a CFO.
“As CFOs and managers, we have the opportunity to create and positive work environment, to be a mentor and to prepare and support our people,” Cornelius said.
Winners and finalists spoke about the importance of their coworkers and the challenges and excitement of being a financial leader.
Battinelli thanked the company’s CEO for identifying trends to grow the business, which has been recognized on Inc.’s list of 5000 fastest growing companies for three consecutive years.
“It is through this collective teamwork and strategic planning that our revenue just about tripled in the past three years,” Battinelli said. “I had no idea when I joined Paragon how fun and creative being a CFO could be.”
Conroy also praised his team for strategizing in a complex industry.
“Everything is upside down with respect to health care,” Conroy said. “We try to figure out what we ought to be doing today and what we ought to be doing a year from now. That’s been a challenge and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Massiani said in the past four years since he joined Sterling, the bank has grown from $4 billion to about $13 billion in assets, earnings per share and revenue has grown. He said he and his team have achieved this through acquisitions, capital raises and hiring talented people.
“Even though the level of sophistication and the risk involved in managing a business rings true for me … it’s exciting for us to continue to focus on how we grow the bank and what we’re going to do this year and beyond,” Massiani said.
Walter said the growth of The Westchester Bank in the past eight years since its conception to nearly $700 million in assets is a testament to the customers. He also thanked his colleagues.
“It’s not about me, it’s about leadership and it’s about team,” Walter said. “I’m very proud. We’re a team from the CEO’s office down to the teller.”
Shah, winner of the new Emerging Financial Leader award, said reflecting on the honor “reminded me that I not only have a lot more to learn and grow, but I have a lot more to contribute to the profession to make it better for the next generation of finance scholars.”
The finalists include:
- Steven M. Eigen, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Central National Gottesman Inc.
- Jill S. Greenspan, Senior Vice President and CFO, Silverman Realty Group Inc.
- Nelso Lasso, CFO, White Plains Linen
- Myra Loewenstein, CFO, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
- Scott Nogles, Executive Vice President and CFO, PCSB Bank
- Novica Prekpala, Vice President and CFO, Mace Contracting Corp.
- Donna Travers, Controller, American Christmas
- Ron Schinik, CFO, Reich Brothers LLC