The elevation of the CFO has been fueled by a long list of finance luminaries, including General Electric’s Dennis Dammerman, Merck’s Judy Lewent, Hilton’s Steve Bollenbach, and Tracinda’s Jerry York. Curious about who the next finance leaders might be, we asked a group of well-informed observers which members of the 40-and-under generation they think are the most promising. This is arguably an arbitrary distinction; as one CFO notes, “the new generation of finance executives will be more a matter of mind and spirit than of chronological age.”
Yet, despite their differences, the spirit of this group emerges clearly in the profiles that follow. They are articulate. They take risks. They are ambitious. They embrace new responsibilities. And almost all of them want to retire early.
SVP & CFO, Avery Dennison Corp.
Age: 40 * Married, 3 children * BS, Fordham University * Job titles in past 10 years: 7; companies: 3 * Future plans: CEO
Bob Calderoni, CFO and senior vice president, finance, of Pasadena, California-based Avery Dennison, believes that the best way for young finance executives to get ahead is to put themselves into difficult situations. “That’s where you learn the most,” says Calderoni.
He should know. Between 1991 and 1994, Calderoni played a key role in resurrecting IBM from its highly publicized financial troubles. Then he leapt from the frying pan into the fire, with a stint at Apple Computer Inc., where he served as senior vice president and corporate controller.
Why would a young finance executive raising a family look for such challenges? “I viewed it as a no-risk situation,” he says. “If they turned around, it would be a huge success. If not, I would have learned a lot and not lost much time. When you’re 35, you have a lot of time.”
Calderoni has made good use of his time so far. Joining IBM in 1984, he climbed quickly through a series of positions until he was named CFO of its $8 billion storage systems division in 1994. During the crisis, he worked closely with then-CFO Jerry York to restructure the company, taking a leadership role in “ratcheting back capital expenditures and R&D by 30 to 40 percent.” In 1996, however, he “figured the CFO track would be faster outside IBM,” and joined Apple. There, he says, “we had to reengineer every aspect of the corporation to make it viable.” In short order, Calderoni and his team installed cost- cutting measures that led to results strong enough to power Apple into its next major development, the iMac.
At Avery Dennison, the drama has toned down a bit. But don’t expect this to be Calderoni’s last hurrah. Richard Wallman, CFO of Honeywell and former controller of IBM, says that Calderoni’s perseverance in troubled times makes him stand out. Ultimately, he says, “I can see Bob being a CEO.”
EVP & CFO, Clark USA Inc.
Age: 40 * Single * BA, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario * Job titles in past 10 years: 3; companies: 3 * Future plans: CEO