149: From Auditor to Medical Industry CFO – Stefanie Cavanaugh, CPA

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Stefanie Cavanaugh

Stefanie Cavanaugh in Austin, Texas, joined us to share her career journey moving from a national accounting firm audit position, to CFO of a small non-profit in only 5 years, to executive-level roles with billion-dollar, publicly-traded companies.

It all started in middle school

As we began the interview, Stefanie shared that she became interested in accounting at a much earlier age than most.  She had heard that accounting was a good field for women while she was still in middle school, so when she entered high school she not only took the accounting courses, but she also was involved in FBLA and even worked doing bookkeeping on a volunteer basis.

Progressing from audit to CFO

Her career started as many do, in an auditor position with an accounting firm – Arthur Young in this case.  It was after 5 years with Arthur Young (and then Ernst & Young), that she decided to move into industry.  Her first industry position was the CFO role with a local city symphony.  She much enjoyed the position as she was quickly exposed to all the other areas that are necessary for a small entity to run, such as human resources and IT.  From there, Stefanie decided to change industries and moved into the medical field.  For the last 13+ years she has been in management accounting positions with medical organizations, most of which were undergoing rapid merger and acquisition activity.  Because of that M&A activity, she was fortunate to have her roles continue to grow such that there seems to have never been a dull moment.  Currently she serves as CFO for a rapidly growing medical company advancing the field of less-intrusive surgery.

What she’s enjoyed…

One of the items I was curious about is what Stefanie enjoyed most about the medical industry.  I understood why she got into that industry, for growth and stability, but I was curious what kept her interested on a daily basis now.  Stefanie very quickly answered that she appreciated being a part of the bigger picture.  Because of the work she performs in the accounting and finance realm, her company is able to continue to make advancements in medical technology and continue to make life better for patients everywhere.

I believe the lesson here is that as accountants sometimes we view our role as being too limited.  The reality is that without our oversight of the financial side of an organization, it’s likely nothing else would be successful.  It takes many talents to run a company, and we as accountants play a vital role in the success of any organization.

If you enjoy this episode with Stefanie Cavanaugh, please also listen in on: Chris Rosas and Lisa Trefger

For the courses mentioned in this episode, please click here.