We’re super excited to introduce the relaunch of our Spend Culture Stories podcast with new speakers and a completely new format.
The podcast features and highlights the opinions and personal stories of fearless finance, operations and procurement leaders who are driving transformational growth and challenging the status quo from the front lines.
Join us as we dive deep into understanding the people, processes, and tools that make up spending as a whole, or what we call Spend Culture.
How I Got Promoted from Accounting Assistant to CFO – Steve Yu, CFO of UCLA Law
CFO. Public speaking guru. Leadership coach. Mentor. Investor.
Steve currently serves as the CFO and Assistant Dean at UCLA School of Law where he has worked for the past 21 years.
Steve oversees the $90 million budget and 200+ staff at UCLA Law, and is an investor in several investments including the Peace & Plenty Hotel chain in the Bahamas, a cherry farm in central California and in the tech startup BUENA.
Steve is a professional speaker, presenter, public-speaking coach, and mentor at universities, medical centers, hospitals, nonprofits and corporations, including Fortune 500 companies.
In this episode, learn about Steve’s roots starting out as an assistant accountant, the secret tools to “level up” your game as a finance leader, and what it takes to be the CFO of a world-renowned law school.
Speakers: Steve Yu, CFO, UCLA Law
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What is the fundamental difference between a CFO and a regular finance leader or accountant?
“An accountant, even an analyst – most of that is very backwards looking, such as: ‘here’s what happened, here is the financial report for last year’. But what a CFO does and what’s important about a CFO is to be forward looking.
I mean obviously, the past results are absolutely important, and it’s a product of effort by the CFO and the whole financial team. But the CFO must keep an eye toward what the future holds. The risks. Strategic direction. You know – whether it’s you’re trying to increase revenue or lower cost, you’re trying to expand it. How do you get there? What does that future look like? What are those financial risks? What are the business risks? It is the CFO’s responsibility to flag those.”
How do you think organizations can cultivate a healthier Spend Culture?
“You have to balance spending money with what you get back, because if you’re overly conservative, you’re just trying to like spend less and less and less. I don’t think that’s the right perspective to have, at least not from me in my mind, when it comes to financial philosophy.
What is one learning that you’ve taken throughout your life that helped bring success to your career as a CFO?
This is a philosophy that is also true within martial arts which I’ve done as well – and that there’s always something more you can learn. There’s always something more you can refine, and if you always have the attitude that there’s always something more to learn and to understand, then you’re always growing. If you’re always seeking out more information, you’re always seeking out some sort of education.
And anyone who thinks that they know it all doesn’t know it all right. And anyone who thinks that they’re the smartest person in the room is in the wrong room.
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