Chief financial officer, Sequoia Senior Solutions, Inc., 1372 N. McDowell Blvd, Ste. S, Petaluma 94954; 707-763-6600; SequoiaSeniorSolutions.com
Education: BA in Italian literature and business economics from University of California, Santa Barbara
Professional background: Corporate chief financial officer, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations and startups. In March 2003, he became co-owner and CFO of home care provider Sequoia Senior Solutions.
For two years previously, he was finance manager of the Worldwide Information Systems division of San Rafael-based Autodesk. That followed three years as CFO for Italian vermouth brand Cinzano.
What's the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?: I believe that the greatest role a financial leader can play to make his or her organization as successful as possible, is to provide relevant feedback to other managers concerning the financial results of their division, company and cost center. Many people, even seasoned managers, have a hard time interpreting financial statements. One of our main roles is to help them understand their numbers and make the necessary adjustments so the business that they manage will be successful.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry?: In my industry, senior care, the biggest challenge is managing growth, and it will continue to be for some time. As the population ages, the need to care for our elderly loved ones will become greater and greater. Selecting, hiring and training qualified caregivers will be difficult and expensive.
[caption id="attachment_78045" align="alignleft" width="200"] Stanton Lawson[/caption]
What challenges and opportunities have your organization met in the recent past?: The cost of caring for seniors in their own homes is rising. As the economy becomes stronger and unemployment drops, hiring qualified caregivers will be a real challenge.
Keeping the cost of care affordable will require specific management skills as well as creative use of technology. This same challenge offers a great deal of opportunity for those who can devise innovative ways to approach the problem with technical innovations that seniors are willing to work with.
How would you advise young emerging financial leaders?: I would advise people to focus on providing excellent service to the organization they belong to. Be passionate about finding efficiencies in your organization while embracing opportunities for growth as they appear before you.
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment?: Connect with trusted partners with whom you can exchange business and ideas. Relationships mean everything when times get difficult, so build positive relationships with your co-workers, business partners and even competitors.
How will your business change in the next five years?: I expect there will be considerable consolidation in my industry. As people age and their desire to continue living in their own homes becomes stronger, many of the companies that now work in the senior care industry will be expanding into the home care sector as the senior population grows.
What decision do you wish you hadn't made?: All in all, I’m very happy with the decisions I’ve made. I’m sure my wife could answer this question better than I can.
She likes to remind me that if we had continued living in Italy, we would both be very close to retirement now, with all the financial benefits that retired executives have in Italy. But we are here, have a wonderful business and both love going to work every day. So we really can’t complain at all!