Terillium interviews industry executives to share their insights and tips for success. We recently spoke with Mark Snavely, CFO of KITO Americas, Inc. Read more below.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge CFOs face today?
Preserving a balanced business approach while maintaining long-term focus is a significant challenge in today’s ever-changing environment. Having rapid access to information and data across the business is vital, but also forces us to constantly be in proactive mode. As we utilize these advanced, integrated systems like Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, we still have a finite amount of human resources. Trying to balance those finite resources with short-term and long-term plans while information presents other opportunities is always a challenge.
What is one strategy you’ve implemented as CFO that has paid off the most?
I’ve surrounded myself with good people whom I trust. My role is to make sure they have the resources they need to keep the business moving forward and preserve the long-term goal amidst the short-term obstacles.
CFOs are often tasked with making decisions on big budget purchases. What factors do you consider when determining ROI and deciding what technology tools are best for your company?
I always lump accounting and finance professionals into two groups: process people and cost people. Both are important; it’s the business environment that dictates fit. I am a process person. I focus on all levels: functional, managerial, and strategic processes. The more I can automate and error-proof processes, the more repetitive return I can get on the investment.
Our business model is predicated on customer service and human interaction. The technology that I bring to our business needs to enhance the human interaction, not replace it. At the end of the day our business is still about people serving people…and I believe we serve those people with the best hoists in the market.
How does ERP technology like Oracle JD Edwards help you as CFO?
Oracle JD Edwards ERP is the great equalizer in the business environment. That means that a 20 year veteran and a two-month rookie are now starting with equal footing. An ERP implementation is a great time to drive out bad processes and also allow you to leverage new developments like mobile technology and IoT. Your baseline capability jumps to a new level and it feels like you are able to jump several levels in terms of your output.
What has been the most helpful resource for you as CFO?
For me the most helpful resource is people in general, particularly the people who aren’t afraid to complain. As a CFO, I want to hear what is broken, not what is going well. I was raised to treat everyone with respect, so it doesn’t matter who has the issue, my role is to help them get it resolved. As a professional, of course you have to use judgment – but I don’t want to buffer myself from issues and conversations. Interacting with all groups and all levels also makes me available so they can ask questions about the business as well. I get to hear the issues and keep my finger on the pulse, and they get access to answers.
What is the best business/career advice you’ve ever been given? And/or what is your favorite motivational quote?
A coworker and I were talking one day and I made a comment that I’m not afraid to make mistakes. He told me that our discussion reminded him of Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena speech”. I really liked that quote and have adopted that as a mantra of sorts.
“Credit belongs to a man who is actually in the arena…if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (read the full quote)
The best career advice I was ever given was by a friend many years ago. I was considering a consulting position with the Internal Revenue Service but the timing was bad with respect to some other work I was doing. This friend told me, “The right opportunity at the wrong time is still wrong.” This stuck with me and I’ve used it often in my business life when timing wouldn’t allow for certain opportunities to come to fruition.
What advice would you give to a budding CFO?
Actively seek to learn lessons from everything you do and also from your peers and their activities. Don’t be content with just finding answers, look for understanding. Surround yourself with good people and make sure you’re taking care of those people. Finally, be humble. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes if you’re trying hard, so embrace those lessons and enjoy your life.
What advice would you give to a CFO considering an ERP/JDE implementation?
Understand what you want to accomplish and why, before you even begin looking for a solution. Lay out and understand your goals and make sure that you’ve included all of your business process stakeholders. These are integrated solutions, so you need a united approach. The tone of “this is our business” needs to be entrenched in the project because the folks that participate the least are the folks that will struggle post go live. The longest part of my projects is usually at the beginning. I’m a planner. I spent about a year and a half planning, for a nine month project from start to go live. Considering all that can go wrong is a must in these large scale projects. We’re affecting the business, the stakeholders, capital, and our customer relationships. That alone warrants a great deal of planning.
What was the most memorable moment working with the Terillium Team (so far)?
For me the days leading up to go live were the most memorable. We felt prepared, but there is always that element of doubt, that fact of “You don’t know, what you don’t know.” Talking with the Terillium team and knowing they were there to back us up on any issues and also knowing that our KAI IT Manager, Jerry Keba, was available made us very confident.
What’s the next big project for your team?
We’d like to leverage JDE and IoT. We’d like to begin to enable our sales force with mobile technology that brings them closer to our operations. We would also like to begin to create better visibility in our operations groups with respect to production and output. In addition to this we’re unifying our global operations through metrics and trying to bring a consistent approach to the review of the business. With all of these initiatives, it’s a great time to work for KITO and we’re excited about these upcoming projects.
When he’s not serving as CFO at KITO Americas, Inc., Mark Snavely can usually be found enjoying the outdoors with his wife and three young children. A Pennsylvania native, Mark currently resides in Lebanon, PA, where he grew up. Mark has an impressive track record working for large corporations. Before his career with KITO, Mark worked in finance and accounting for Dana Corporation, KPMG, Butler Manufacturing, and Armstrong World Industries. He’s participated in several ERP implementations over the course of his career and managed IT as well.
Mark grew up playing football, basketball, and baseball and still makes a point to exercise everyday. He also has a deep interest in American History. His favorite book is 1776 by David McCullough. John Adams (by the same author) is a very close second.
Mark received a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Shippensburg University, where he also played football. He later attended Penn State University where he earned a Master’s degree in Finance.