When people ask Molly Jungbauer, “What does a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) do?” her joking response is, “Do you have three and a half hours?” In a more serious vein, she said, “People used to think the CFO sat in a back room, crunching numbers. Now the CFO is a strategic partner. First and foremost, the CFO provides financial stability to the organization. The role is expanding to IT, human resources and legal — oversight of all compliance aspects of organization.”
Jungbauer started college as a chemistry major. “I really enjoyed the subject matter and the math that went along with it, but I hated the labs. I didn’t like working alone for long hours. I was way too much of a people person,” she said.
Someone suggested accounting. “I had never heard of it,” she said. She immediately fell in love with it. By age 24, having already put in stints at Minnesota Title and Cub Foods, she became a division account manager at Old Republic Title. “It helped me develop some crucial management skills at a very young age, to analyze things at an organizational level rather than just departmental,” she said.
After two years off as a full-time mom, Jungbauer went to work for a small public accounting company and stayed 12 years. When the owner asked her to become a partner, it was a crossroads, Jungbauer said. “I thought for a long time, but the grueling hours of tax season weren’t attractive.”
Through networking, she landed the Controller position with the Minnesota Wild in 2008. “That job challenged me in just about every aspect: tax, banking, finance, budgeting. All of those things I needed to be able to purchase Hollstadt,” she said.
Her husband, Jim, had started working for Hollstadt & Associates in 2006 and became president in 2008. “Jim and I had always wanted to own our own business,” she said. “Of course with me in finance and him in sales and marketing, we have complementary skills.” When founder Rachel Hollstadt announced that she was selling the business, “We jumped at the opportunity,” Jungbauer said. They acquired the business in February 2012.
Because Jim Jungbauer was already president, Molly Jungbauer came in as CFO/CEO. “It was somewhat of a coin toss. Quite frankly, Hollstadt had always been woman-owned and woman-run. It was important to continue that legacy,” she said.
How common is it to see a CFO/CEO?
I think CFOs typically possess a majority of the qualities needed to be CEO. But I think a lot of CFOs would be too risk-averse to seize opportunities. A lot don’t want the spotlight — it’s not their nature to be the face of the company. If they can overcome that, their qualifications would definitely allow them to take over that role.
Is it rare for an accountant to be a “people person”?
In today’s business, I don’t think anybody has the luxury of sitting in the back room anymore. I think everybody has to be strategically involved.
What are the next steps for your company?
We are very ambitious. We’re lucky we’re in this market. We have opened an office in Atlanta, mostly because that’s another great market. One of our clients here is already down there, too. Other than that, it’s just taking advantage of all the growth opportunity in Minnesota. We’re both native Minnesotans, so it’s important to stay here and grow the local economy. □