Big data and artificial intelligence are transforming entire industries, with plenty more changes in store. The Office of Finance is well-equipped to lead businesses through their digital transformation. Finance experts are already experienced with processing data, predicting the future, and analyzing risks. Add a dash of technological savvy and exceptional leadership skills, and you have a CFO ready to play an active role in the organization’s future.
The women leaders in this article are stellar role models for modern CFOs. Collectively, they have helped produce billions of dollars in revenue growth for Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 organizations. The Fortune 500 list of the largest companies in America now features 58 female CFOs, more than double the 22 female CEOs who were also featured. Just 11% of CFOs across industries are women according to a survey of top 1,000 US companies by executive recruitment firm Korn Ferry. The survey was conducted in mid December 2017. This figure was down from 12% in 2016.
Retail was the industry with most female CFOs at 19%, followed by consumer goods at 15%. Finance and healthcare were tied at 8%. The executive search firm mentioned that while the percentage of female CFOs dipped slightly in 2017, it was seeing a positive trend of women being internally promoted to CFO.
Here are just a few of the female CFOs we found, who are transforming the finance game.
Jennifer Piepszak- Piepszak was appointed CFO of JP Morgan, the global investment banking powerhouse, from her position as CEO, Consumer lending and took over the role effective May 1, 2019. She succeeds Marianne Lake, who will become Chief Executive Officer of Consumer Lending, which includes Card Services, Home Lending and Auto Finance. Piepszak came up through JPMorgan’s investment banking operations and then surprised some colleagues when she jumped to the company’s consumer business in 2010, because bankers and traders don’t typically consider such moves in general. For several years, Piepszak oversaw financing operations for the mortgage business, steering it through a period in which it faced a host of crisis-era settlements with regulators. She then took over as CEO of card services in February 2017, six months after the bank introduced its popular Sapphire Reserve card. Last year, the bank added roughly 8 million credit-card accounts, bringing its total number of active accounts to about 40 million, according to an investor presentation in February.
2. Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO, General Motors- She is the first female Chief Financial Officer of General Motors. She was appointed as the CFO on the 13th of June, 2018. Her appointment makes GM one of only two Fortune 500 companies that have both a female CEO and CFO. Hershey is the other company with the same distinction. GM CEO Mary Barra said: “Dhivya’s experience and leadership in several key roles throughout our financial operations position her well to build on the strong business results we’ve delivered over the last several years.”
In 2002, Suryadevara landed an internship at the World Bank before joining UBS as an investment banker. When the time came to move on, she set her sights on GM.
In 2013, she rose to CEO and chief investment officer of GM Asset Management. While running GM’s $85 billion pension operations, she also took on the role as vice president of finance and treasurer in 2015, and split her time between New York and Detroit.
In 2017 she became vice president of corporate finance, where she “played an integral role in the Opel divestiture, Cruise acquisition, Lyft investment and more recently, SoftBank’s investment in GM Cruise,” according to GM.
Although Suryadevara never imagined going into the automotive industry, she told Real Simple that she’s always enjoyed anything “challenging and complicated.”
That was the theme of her upbringing in Chennai, India. After her father passed away when Suryadevara was young, all parenting duties fell onto her mother.
“My mom had to raise three children on her own, which is difficult to do anywhere, let alone in India,” she said. “She wanted to make sure there were no corners cut when it came to our education and to prove that we could have the same resources as a two-parent household.”
3. Amy Hood, CFO, MIcrosoft- Hood joined Microsoft in 2002 holding positions in the investor relations group. She also served as chief of staff in the Server and Tools Business as well as running the strategy and business development team in the Business division. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs in various roles including investment banking and capital markets groups.
On May 8, 2013, Microsoft announced Hood would be replacing Peter Klein as the company's chief financial officer. As chief financial officer, Amy Hood is responsible for leading Microsoft's worldwide finance organization, including acquisitions, treasury activities, tax planning, accounting and reporting, and internal audit and investor relations. As Nadella plots strategy to cope with the challenges posed to Microsoft from the likes of Google and Apple, Hood manages spending to support it.
Hood can be credited with much of Microsoft's recent boom; in the five years since she became CFO the company's stock has surged nearly 300%.
She's helped engineer over 57 deals while at Microsoft, including the recent $7.5 billion acquisition of software development platform GitHub.
Hood strategically shifted money away from some of Microsoft's legacy divisions such as Windows to invest in their growing cloud computing division.
Hood holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Duke University in 1994 and an MBA from Harvard University. She currently sits at the #28 spot in the Forbes World's 100 Most Powerful Women list.
4. Colette Kress- Colette joined NVIDIA Ltd, the US$ 92 Billion Chip designer, in 2013 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Kress has been the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President at NVIDIA Corporation since September 30, 2013. She has nearly 25 years experience in a range of finance roles at major technology companies. Ms. Kress served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Business Groups, Engineering and Operations Finance at Cisco Systems managing the financial strategy, planning, reporting, business development for all business segments, engineering and operations since 2010.
From 1997 to 2010, she worked at Microsoft Corporation. She served as the Chief Financial Officer of Server & Tools Business since 2006 at Microsoft Corporation and Corporate Vice President . She was responsible for the overall financial management of the business which includes financial and strategic planning, reporting and analysis and controls and compliance for the business.
Before joining STB in 2006, she spent eight years working in Microsoft Corporate Finance, where she held the position of General Manager, responsible for Strategic Planning, Forecasting and Analysis. Prior to joining Microsoft, she spent eight years at Texas Instruments, where she held various business and corporate finance positions. She serves as a Member of the Advisory Board at PlaceFull, Inc. Kress holds a BS in Finance from the University of Arizona and a Masters of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
The estimated Net Worth of Colette Kress is at least $61.6 Million dollars as of 20 March 2019. Ms. Kress owns over 14,092 units of NVIDIA stock worth over $38,216,956 and over the last 3 years she sold NVDA stock worth over $18,508,659. In addition, she makes $4,833,720 as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President at NVIDIA.
5. Tracey Travis, CFO, The Estee Lauder Companies Inc: Tracey has been the Chief Financial Officer of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., the US$ 60 billion fashion power house & owner of Brands like Tommy Hifliger, DKNY, & Bobbi Brown, since August 20, 2012 and served as Executive Vice President until 2019. Ms. Thomas has been Executive Vice President of Finance at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. since 2019. Ms. Ms. Travis is responsible for global finance, accounting, investor relations, information technology and strategy and new business development. Since 1983, she started her career as an Engineer and Financial Analyst at General Motors working on new product ventures in Asia and Latin America.
From 1999 to 2001- She served as Chief Financial Officer of Beverage Can Americas group of American National Can, where she was responsible for the accounting, financial planning and analysis and information technology areas.
From 1989 to 1999- She held various management positions at PepsiCo and Pepsi Bottling Group.
From April 2002 to August 2004, she served as Senior Vice President of Finance of L Brands, Inc.
From April 2001 to April 2002, Ms. Travis served as Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Intimate Brands, Inc.
From January 3, 2005 to July 30, 2012She also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance of Ralph Lauren Corporation and served as its Principal Accounting Officer until July 30, 2012 and and serves as a Trustee of the University of Pittsburgh.
From 2011 to November 2015, She served as an Independent Director of Campbell Soup Company.
She was responsible for corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury, tax and corporate compliance. She has been Independent Director at Accenture plc since July 20, 2017. She serves as Director of Lincoln Center Theater and is a trustee on the board of overseers of Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Ms. Travis earned an MBA in Finance and Operations Management from Columbia University. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
6. Christine Komola is the CFO of Covetrus Inc, the US$ 3.0 billion global animal-health technology and services Company. Christine has been Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Covetrus, Inc. since February 2019. Ms. Komola served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Direct Vet Marketing, Inc. (also known as Vets First Choice) from October 2018 until February 2019.
Ms. Komola joined Staples Inc. in 1997 and served as its Director of General Accounting and as Vice President of Planning and Control. In this role, she was responsible for supplier relationships, marketing programs and merchandise assortments for Staples Retail and Delivery businesses.
In 1999, she served as Senior Financial Executive of Staples Business Delivery and then served as the Chief Financial Officer of Staples, Inc.
Komola served as Senior Vice President of Staples, Inc. since January 2002 to March 2013 and Controller from July 2004 to February 1, 2012.
From 2002 to 2004, she served as the General Merchandise Manager of Furniture & Portfolio Strategy at Staples, Inc.
Most recently, she served as Account Manager and Portfolio Manager at Staples Inc. key supply chain project. She held several positions of increasing responsibility with Ernst & Young LLP and served as its Audit Manager. She has more than 25 years of financial operations and management experience. She has been a Director at Acquia, Inc.
Since March 2015. Ms. Komola holds a B.S. in Business Administration, Accounting from Miami University and has been a certified public accountant since 1992. In addition, she is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.
7. Elaine Paul- Elaine Paul has been the Chief Financial Officer of Hulu, LLC the popular american TV streaming service ( like Netflix) since October 28, 2013. Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University and master’s degree in finance and strategy from Harvard Business School. She lives in Los Angeles, California, United States.
In 2009, Paul served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy at the Walt Disney Company where she led various acquisitions, new business initiatives, and strategic investments, including Disney's original investment in Hulu. In addition to her tenure in Corporate Strategy, she previously served as Vice President, Business Development for the Walt Disney Internet Group where she led a team responsible for developing strategic partnerships and worked to enhance and monetize the online assets of the company.
During Elaine’s 2-year tenure, Hulu has more than doubled in subscribers and revenues and is investing in exclusive acquired and original content, marketing and tech/product to achieve significant double digit growth.
Prior to her time at Disney, Elaine worked as an Associate at McKinsey and Company and a Financial Analyst at Morgan Stanley and Company. Elaine holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a B.A. in Economics and History from Stanford University.
Elaine has served on the Board of Directors of Starlight Children’s Foundation, has served as the President of the Stanford Club of West LA, and chairs fundraising efforts for Stanford and Harvard Business School. She also has served on the Board of Directors of her children’s K-8 school in Los Angeles.
Elaine is married to Darren Seidel and has three children ages 12, 11, and 8. Elaine enjoys the outdoors, stand-up paddle surfing, hiking, and adventure travel.