CFO of the YEAR

Devin Felix, Heather Stewart, Sarah Ryther Francom

June 6, 2013

Dotter co-founded and served as president of Provinti, a financial and accounting services firm that deals mainly in the software, media, real estate and construction industries. Provinti’s customer base doubled for five consecutive years. He left Provinti in 2006 to join, where he began as vice president of finance. Today, he oversees the company’s global financial and administrative operations and several departments, including accounting, finance, business intelligence, administration, human resources, legal and facilities.

In the midst of the 2008 credit crisis, had its lines of credit pulled by its bank, an experience that happened to many businesses at the time. The company’s leadership began to plan for layoffs, a prospect that deeply troubled Dotter. He spent a sleepless weekend planning and building financial models to manage future cash flows that would allow the company to preserve all of its employees’ jobs. “[By] Monday morning, everybody rallied and we worked our plan to preserve the jobs of all our employees,” he recalls. “Within six months, sales had rapidly grown because of the counter-recessionary growth of the industry, and we had replenished the cash deficit from the lost lines of credit.”

In 2012, saw 100 percent growth in monthly revenue, added more than 100 jobs, was granted three U.S. patents, gained $35 million in equity financing and experienced 550 percent stock growth.

David R. Grow

CFO, Western Governors University

David Grow has spent more than 30 years serving as a financial exec in companies ranging from PricewaterhouseCoopers to WordPerfect and Novell to many publicly traded corporations. But when he joined Western Governors University (WGU) nearly 10 years ago as CFO, he found a great sense of pride and satisfaction from building a company with a mission to enrich the community through education.

“WGU really caters to the older student, the working adult, and what’s interesting is to attend our commencement ceremonies and have our students speak and to listen to how what we do for them changes their lives for the better,” Grow says. “It was great working for public companies but it’s nice to really put our customer, our student, before anyone else. That’s what’s so satisfying about working for WGU.”

WGU has experienced phenomenal growth since Grow was appointed CFO. In 2012, student enrollments grew more than 40 percent to total enrollments of approximately 40,000 students. The employee headcount grew from just over 100 to more than 2,000. The not-for-profit institution also launched a Texas site and will soon be opening in Missouri and Tennessee.

Niel Nickolaisen, chief information officer at WGU, attributes much of the institution’s achievements to Grow’s experience and progressive vision. “David has a significant voice in determining the strategies and innovative approach required to run the university and make it successful in the short term, while investing in strategies that will help it to be successful in the long term,” he says.

Nickolaisen points to the innovative financial model Grow helped the institution implement, which allows WGU to be entirely self-sufficient on tuition alone, eliminating the need for alumni donations, third-party contributions, etc. “The model that David has introduced and implemented funds operations while establishing a significant cash and investment portfolio that provides an amazing fiscal security for the university,” he says. “In addition to not requiring tuition increases for the past five years, David’s financial leadership has allowed the university to offer students other ways to reduce the costs of higher education. For example, tuition now covers the costs of all student textbooks.”

Grow has seen the role of the CFO evolve during his tenure and offers two pieces of wisdom for aspiring finance execs: “The CFO is a partner with the CEO. He can be a second pair of eyes and ears in the organization, providing significant input and counsel about trends and concerns in the organization and industry,” Grow says, adding, “Look beyond the financial statements. To be a great CFO you need to understand the entire organization and industry. Numbers are important, but the people you work with provide the value.”


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