10 questions for CHR Solutions CFO Mark Vance

Name: Mark Vance

Age: 58

Time with company: 7 years

Education: Bachelor of Science in finance from Louisiana State University; MBA in accounting from the University of Houston

Company headquarters: Houston

Revenue: $60 million

Countries of operation: U.S., India

Number of employees total: 511

Number of employees the CFO directly oversees: 17

CFO's areas of responsibility: Corporate finance and accounting

About the company: CHR Solutions provides business process outsourcing, engineering, software, cloud and managed IT services to communications service providers around the world. CHR serves more than 950 clients and has 11 offices and two network operating centers in six U.S. states and two countries.

1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?

My business career began in corporate accounting for an international energy company with exposure to corporate budgeting and tax that led to assistant controller, tax manager and controller positions. I was recruited from the energy industry to telecommunications during the AT&T divestiture that has led to my active role in today's ever-expanding telecommunications industry.

2. Who was an influential boss for you and what lessons did they teach you about management and leadership?

Kevin Loud, president of WilTel Long Distance, was an influential boss that significantly influenced my career. Kevin led with charisma and a strong drive towards successful team building. His positive focus helped create a "can do" attitude that contributed to all of our successes and shaped me to be the leader I am today.

3. What are the biggest challenges facing CFOs today?

The slowdown in the economy has stalled growth in many sectors and created uncertainty that is affecting the purchasing decisions of many companies. This affects profitability and increases the difficulty in creating meaningful cash forecasts.

4. What is a good day at work like for you?

I really enjoy a collaborative meeting with the staff, and other CHR Solutions employees, that are working on key company projects. These meetings typically lead to improved processes and are very rewarding for myself and everyone involved.

5. How would you characterize your management style?

At CHR Solutions, we develop fairly detailed grants of authority for our senior staff and then empower them to achieve their goals. Personally, I like to team with them to understand their progress and collaborate as needed. Weekly staff meetings and daily huddles have proven to be our key communication tools.

6. What strengths and qualities do you look for in job candidates?

It's all about the attitude and the will to succeed in the job. We also look for an entrepreneurial mindset that can handle pressure and must be able to multitask. These are all key attributes I look for in a potential new hire.

7. What are some of your favorite interview questions or techniques to elicit information to determine whether a candidate will be successful at your company? What sort of answers send up red flags for you and make you think a job candidate wouldn't be a good fit?

I like to understand how they handle pressure and if they can multitask. I also like to understand specific work crisis situations they were in and how they handled those, both professionally and personally.

We have also used personality profile testing in the past that has been incredibly reliable in predicting their future success.

8. What is it about your current job, at this particular company, that sets it apart from other chief finance positions?

CHR Solutions was created from scratch based on a foundation of great ideas from James Taylor and Arun Pasrija back in 2004. Since then, we have transacted 11 mergers and created two overseas subsidiaries during our growth to $60 million in revenue. This hyper-growth without outside equity sets this experience apart from most.

9. What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

My sons play high school baseball and taking in one of their games or playing pitch-and-catch with them is my best relief.

10. If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?

I would be working with entrepreneurial and equity groups looking for the next big deal.

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Nancy Weil

IDG News Service
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