Experienced Consulting CFO and CEO-whisperer, serving as senior advisor within CFOs2GO, resolving business finance and operational problems.
Bob is an Advisory CFO who serves as a resource for his fellow consulting CFOs and colleagues at CFOs2GO, imparting insights gained from both his client and firm side experience. He functions as a learned sounding-board and counsel to help his fellow CFO consultants further think through complex issues thus enabling the firm to arrive at the best solution for clients. With the unusual combination of both a CPA and a law degree, Bob’s colorful mosaic of a career has focused on problem-solving – initially business structural issues, tax or accounting matters and then most recently dealing with the resolution of business finance and operational problems as well as the pursuit of business “rationalizations.” His experience coupled with his rare gift of bringing senior leaders to a difficult conclusion to enable decisions makes him a powerful ally in the business world.
Bob grew up in Northern Minnesota and jumped into his career early, starting as an apprentice accountant at the age of 19. Having married in his first year of college, Bob sought a part-time job while he continued going to school in order to support himself and his new bride. He recalled his neighbor, who was an accountant and lived a desirable lifestyle, and Bob envisioned a similarly bright future for himself. He spoke with his neighbor and was referred to a local accounting firm where he started out copying tax returns during the busy season, starting a lifelong relationship that he cherishes today.
After graduation and working for a few years on increasingly challenging tax situations and clients he was assigned, Bob was encouraged to get a law degree to amplify his critical thinking and problem-solving skills, while exposing him to more business and tax knowledge. He and his growing family moved to St. Paul where he studied law at William Mitchell College of Law with a focus on business tax. He took every class he could find related to finance and taxes to round out his experience, working for Touche Ross during the day while he went to law school at night. He was courted by a law firm back in Duluth, near the old accounting firm where he started his career and put both his accounting and law experience to good use. When the small town proved too small, he returned to St. Paul and rejoined Touche Ross where he was placed on the partner path that eventually took him to a Partner role in the San Francisco office. After the merger and change in culture and direction under Deloitte+Touche, Bob sought a new direction and shifted his sights to industry side. He was approached to serve as CFO of The Sharper Image which led him into a succession of top leadership roles with a variety of start-up and consumer companies ranging from Yes! Entertainment, Purple Tie, The GoodGuys and assisting a Bay Area technology R&D client with a London-based IPO. Ultimately he struck out on his own, serving as a consulting CFO, leveraging the melange of experience he had built over years and a myriad of opportunities.
His work largely encompassed planning for growth, dealing with working capital constraints, and communicating results to management, investors and other stakeholders. Throughout his career, Bob has been mentored by influential and generous business leaders who have steered his experiences and professional development, while shaping his management style. He recalls, with a slight grin, how a criminal defense lawyer he once worked for gave him some insight in delivering bad news. “There is a way to tell a guy he’s going to hell, and to have him look forward to the trip,” his colleague said. That insight stayed with him and the guidance of dozens of mentors over the years has helped shape his ability to tell CEOs the unvarnished truth but deliver it in a way that allows them to adopt the recommendations and take action.
He often is brought in by investors and creditors to serve as the “adult supervision” to help portfolio companies deal with their problems, challenges, and opportunities. Most importantly, Bob takes ownership of the relationship with the client and invests time and attention, caring about and asking after the client’s personal lives and understanding what influences their lives both inside and outside the office. That empathy allows him to build the trust needed to guide clients where they need to go.
Looking back on his career, Bob is amazed that the vision that he held for himself at 19 to become a well-rounded advisor has come to fruition from his days on the partner track with Touche Ross, to his succession of demanding CFO roles with publicly-traded companies that had burned out other CFOs, and finally arriving at a consulting career helping companies realize their dreams.
Bob’s business focus today is directed to offering his colleagues at CFOs2GO and their client companies strong strategic planning, problem-solving, building or re-building strengths in the finance department, implementing change, and coaching and mentoring talented members of a client’s organization all principally focused on accounting and finance.