Four consummate financial executives.

Author:Heffes, Ellem M.
 
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As the Financial Executives International Hall of Fame reaches its seventh year, we welcome four new inductees--each of whom has enjoyed an illustrative and successful career working with some of America's iconic companies. In their"second acts"they continue to demonstrate dedication to the profession.

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WILLIAM J. IHLANFELDT

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HANS G. STORR

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ROBERT P. WAYMAN

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JOHN K. WULFF

element of the CFO's responsibilities, this facet of the job has become more challenging and time-consuming as a result of the increasing pace of technological change and globalization.

Compliance requirements have become infinitely more complex, not only as a result of added U.S. regula-tions but also as a result of regula-tions initiated by other jurisdictions. The CFO's compliance focus has moved beyond financial reporting.

How has your financial education allowed you to apply your skills to the "real world" and to perform your job? IHLANFELDT: At Shell, my assignments involved much more than accounting. I was exposed to most phases of the business, including several joint ventures, such as membership on a team that managed a joint venture with Motorola.

I also was a member of a four-person team that was responsible for the complete reorganization and relocation of Shell's research organization.

STORR: At Philip Morris, I used my finance education to design and im-plement a system for managing our cash flows to reduce exposure to currency fluctuations that is still in operation today. I joined the Philip Morris International offices in New York as an assistant to the V.P. of finance in 1966.

My finance education has also been an invaluable tool in my post-Philip Morris activities as owner of a mid-size hotel and commercial rental properties in the Vail Valley area of Colorado and as an individual investor.

WAYMAN: The finance function is core to all aspects of business. Being at a tech company, it was natural and easy to add value as the company evolved. HP was a small tech company of about [dollar]300 million in revenue when I joined. As it grew and moved into additional product areas - such as printers and computers as well as consumer products, multiple channels of distribution, etc. - it was quite straightforward to bring financial skills to the new business opportunities. I have found that most well-educated finance profes-sionals are able to move their skills to new business opportunities.

WULFF: Every new job - whether it's with your existing employer or a new one - will provide a meaningful learning. experience (occasionally a negative one). I have been fortunate to have held a number of positions in a number of different organizations in public accounting, private industry and in the regulatory structure.

I believe very strongly that peri-odic job change not only enhances one's skill mix but also enhances one's ability to deal effectively with change - a talent of benefit both to one's professional and personal life.

The most successful businesses have developed and sustained an at-mosphere of constant learning. One of the ways that they have accom-plished that is through thoughtful and proactive job rotation. Another is by encouraging their employees to par-ticipate in outside activities - such as FEI - which exposes the individu-als to new or different perspectives.

What's the best career and/ or personal advice you received that has stayed with you?

IHLANFELDT: For me, the important impact was not so much the advice I received but rather the example that my mentors set in their behavior - to do the right thing.

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HANS G. STORR emigrated to the U.S. in 1954 (at the age of 22) with a one-way ticket to Milwaukee and dreams of opportunity.

He eventually became a finance icon in the tobacco industry, having served the Philip Morris Cos. (now Altria Group Inc.) in senior-level executive positions including at several of the firm's subsidiaries.

In a nearly 40-year career, he has held roles including chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chairman of the board. He has also served on the Financial Accounting Standards Board and in 2007 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In retirement, he founded a private investment company with interest and active management in real estate in the Vail Valley area of Colorado and private investments.

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Talk generally about financial executives and how the role has evolved. What's different about when you were serving and now?

IHLANFELDT: Senior financial managers are expected to operate as a full-fledged member of the management team. They must deal with and frequently lead the way in addressing the rapid advances in information technology. These broader responsibilities find them operating with a higher profile and its attendant increase in personal risk.

STORK: A prime focus of my tenure as CFO was growth in our international business. While exciting and gratifying, this presented a number of challenges, including hedging currency movements, dealing with varied and changing accounting standards, overseeing credit and reporting coherently to management on many separate local markets.

No doubt, financial executives today are still dealing with these challenges, despite having more tools to help them. For example, during my tenure, banks were of very little use in hedging currencies.

There is more specialization today than when I began as CFO in 1978; my team was responsible for managing the company's pension funds, but without the electronic and other tools available today for analyzing investments.

Communication with the investment community then mainly revolved around quarterly reporting and the number of analysts was modest.

WAYMAN: Among the key changes are the incredible increase in reporting requirements and transparency (HP's annual report/10-K had about 20 pages; today it's 100 or more). It's the same for the proxy 8-K requirements. Regulations are much more demanding - what with Sarbanes-Oxley, environ-mental laws, supply chain reporting and much more.

In addition, issues related to legal and litigation matters take more time and at greater expense. Adding value through financial factors have demanded a substantial increase in management and board time and energy and make it more challenging for senior managers to preserve time and energy for strategy, execution, development, etc.

WULFF: When I served as a CFO in the 1990s, a great deal of time and effort was spent developing and implementing work-process reengineering initiatives to achieve step change productivity improvements.

I worked closely with IT to facilitate and institutionalize those initiatives. Compliance oversight was an important element of my responsibilities, hut was largely focused on financial...

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