487: Putting Your Organization on an Even Keel | Robin Gantt, CFO, Northwest Pipe

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It’s unlikely that this is the first sentence ever to include the phrase “even-keeled” alongside the name Robin Gantt, but this is a pairing that bears repeating here to reveal not only an obvious character trait of our latest guest, but also one that frequently sets apart CFO leadership at large.

Gantt, already a seasoned finance leader, arrives at Northwest Pipe as an advisor to the CEO, who is seeking to better align finance with the steel pipe manufacturer’s overall strategy. We don’t learn all of what needs to get done, but Gantt’s subsequent advance to the CFO office makes clear that the alignment is being achieved as the organization responds and is placed on a more even keel.

Listeners will enjoy hearing Gantt offer a short, concise overview of the uncommon business of manufacturing steel pipe that ranges from 2 feet to 13 feet in diameter. Meanwhile, her modest appraisal of both her early career and communication abilities informs finance newcomers that they too can learn and achieve along the finance career track.

Along the way, Gantt refuses to sugarcoat the inbred challenges that the business faces. “This is a very heavy working capital-intensive business, with a long cash flow cycle. Anyone who works with governments and municipalities knows that you’ll get paid, but sometimes it can be quite a while,” she explains. Just like the pipe Northwest manufacturers, Gantt’s words run deep beneath the surface. — Jack Sweeney

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