Mike Cairns of San Francisco Theological Seminary in Marin County wins one of North Bay Business Journal’s 2017 North Bay CFO Awards.
Professional background: Big four public accounting followed by almost twenty years of corporate finance positions before moving into the education arena. Adjunct faculty at College of Marin
Education: B.S. in accounting, University of Hartford. MBA, University of California, Berkeley. Certified Public Accountant.
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?
Clear concise communication of the business’s current state, and creative ideas to increase profitability.
Constant monitoring of results and the global economic environment in order to manage risk.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry?
Technology is changing how students want to learn resulting in a revolution in how educational programs are delivered
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past.
An ongoing challenge is successfully communicating the value of our existing and new innovative programs to an increasingly secular society
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?
Hone your communication skills.
Join and support professional networking groups.
Learn the relationship between the underlying revenue and cost drivers and how operating decisions affect them.
Always pay attention to cash flow
What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment?
Keep your focus on the goal, avoid distractions. Stay abreast of developing economic trends.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?
I think we will see more online offerings with an increase in flexible short-term programs that offer tangible skills for immediate application in the workplace.
What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?
Many years ago I turned down a job offer from a leading tech company for the wrong reason (in hindsight). I learned you need to properly evaluate the pro’s and con’s, this applies to many situations.
What is your most memorable business experience?
The friends and colleagues I have met and learned from along the way.
What is your greatest business success?
I have been involved in creating and successfully executing the strategy in three out of three turnaround situations
What was your toughest business decision?
The toughest decisions always involve people. Hardest of all is when it becomes clear that someone needs to be let go.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?
Maybe that “Love Actually” is one of my favorite movies.
Vice President Finance & Operations, CFO
San Francisco Theological Seminary
105 Seminary Road, San Anselmo 94960