Accounting Director Sheena Griffin was named a finalist for the 2021 BBJ CFO Awards. These awards recognize the top financial officer in a Birmingham organization. We’re very proud of Sheena and all she has accomplished during her time with the agency. We sat down with her to find out some of the secrets to her success.
How do you view the role of the Accounting Director?
As an overseer for all finances of the company, this role guides the allocation of finances and provides direction to others on how to book against different clients, projects, and ledger accounts. You must lead, follow, and expect adherence to specific policies and procedures while implementing checks and balances involving cash and finances.
How has COVID-19 changed the dynamics of the Accounting Director role due to new challenges companies are facing?
We learned to quickly adapt to different payment terms and ways that we pay our vendors. We had to be flexible with clients’ needs, as they may need longer to process payments due to their own challenges. We had to jump in and be more hands-on to assist as employees needed to be out of the office, and embrace technology to keep things running from home.
What role should an Accounting Director play when it comes to managing a company’s growth?
You must be able to turn in timely and accurate reports and provide any reports needed by the top decision-makers of the company. It’s important to set, review, and adhere to department budgets, making sure those stay in line.
What’s a success story from your time as Accounting Director that helped the company?
Coming on board 15 years ago, there were only two of us in accounting. Not long after I started, that dwindled to just me. Today, I’ve built that into a team of nine accounting professionals. My biggest success story is the team we have and how they’ve developed their own roles to succeed as individuals
What is your best advice to Accounting Directors about navigating a crisis?
Take one day at a time. Pray. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the situation. Keep a clear head. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with your team for fresh ideas. If your team is anything like mine, they are willing and able to jump in to tackle problems, and they want to help and support you.
What’s your best tip or best practice for leading a company’s financial operations through a challenging economy?
Be flexible with changes. With Covid, if one thing isn’t selling specifically, or clients reduce budgets, you must be willing to be flexible with anything new that your salespeople are selling. You can’t be rattled by all of the changes coming through. STRONG has developed several new products as growth opportunities for revenue, and as Accounting Director, I had to be flexible learning how to implement them and make it work.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from a mentor?
It feels to me like God has been teaching me to be better about not judging a situation based on what I first hear or see from somebody. I’ve learned to not let myself get puffed up with pride and think you know everything about the situation or read too much into it. It’s important to treat everyone fairly and with respect.