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What Do CFOs Do for Fun?

For many, physical challenges provide the perfect complement to their pressure-cooked professional lives.

This is the first of two articles on CFOs and their hobbies.

Tim Hudson’s favorite non-work activity can actually be like another full-time engagement.

Hudson, who runs finance for CoreRx, a growth company that does research and development work for pharmaceutical manufacturers, is a triathlete. He’s been doing triathlons since the mid-1990s, when he moved from Atlanta to Florida and met some enthusiasts of the sport, which combines running, biking and swimming.

Hudson finishing the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Hudson finishing the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Now 50, Hudson competed in the 2012 Ironman World Championship, the famous annual competition in Hawaii. It was the realization of a longtime goal. What was required to get there would make most mortals quake.

In Ironman competitions, the major leagues of triathlons, participants swim 2.4 miles in the ocean, ride a bike for 112 miles and top it off with a marathon-length run of 26-plus miles. To prepare for each Ironman event (he’s participated in five, including the world championship), Hudson trains at least 30 hours a week for six months, on top of his demanding job. That means getting up at 5 a.m. every morning and putting in more time after work.

When not getting ready for an Ironman, he typically devotes about half that much time to training.

What makes it worth the effort? “A lot of people who are CFOs have type-A personalities and set extreme goals for themselves,” he says. “And the world championship in Hawaii, accomplishing that goal, was a great, magic feeling. It was thrilling, with people lined up and down the street cheering you on, lights on you, and NBC television there.”

It was a grind, for sure. “It was windy, hot and hilly,” Hudson says. “It was brutal. I cramped up while on the bike and really struggled.”

How’d he do in the competition? “I finished,” he says, completely satisfied.

Since then, Hudson, who has been president of the St. Pete Mad Dogs Triathlon Club for five years, has continued to train but at a somewhat slower place. “I might do some shorter triathlons and will probably run in some marathons, but no more Ironmans,” he says. “It’s too time-consuming, and they’re a little extreme for most people. Even me.”

Water Immersion
Hudson is hardly alone in using a sporting activity to chip away at the chronic stress that many CFOs endure. “The only thing I’m thinking about while water skiing is water skiing,” says Doug Smith, finance chief at Grossman Marketing Group, a $27 million promotional products company. “It’s huge stress relief.”

Smith and Hudson, like other CFOs interviewed for this article, entered a contest on the website of CBIZ, an accounting and professional services firm, for which they submitted a photo and description of their hobby.

2 thoughts on “What Do CFOs Do for Fun?

  1. I am a Certified Dog Trainer. I run group classes and work with private clients. I run puppy socialization classes and basic commands classes and work with priviate clients with problem behaviors. I absolutely love it.

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