It’s not every day that CFOs get a chance to sit in the seats where NFL players hold their strategy meetings. And it’s not every day they can enjoy a reception while gazing out at the field where one of the area’s biggest sports franchises practices. On March 27, about 150 New Jersey–area finance execs had both those experiences when CFO Studio held a reception at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ, honoring the CFO of the Jets, Brian Friedman, featured in the Q1 2014 issue of CFO Studio magazine.
Andrew Zezas, publisher of CFO Studio, introduced the “very accomplished” CFO of the Jets and noted that Friedman joins?a distinguished group of cover subjects at the magazine, including Harald Henn of Mercedes-Benz, who was in the audience.
“With on-camera interviews (111 of which are ready to view at CFOStudio.com), and the magazine, CFO Studio provides CFOs with the opportunity to position themselves as thought- leaders and to promote their companies,” Zezas told the finance execs in attendance. “On behalf of my staff, please accept my sincerest thanks for permitting us to serve you in this way!”
Friedman, in his remarks, focused on how CFO jobs have changed in recent years. Strategy, once the smallest part of the job, fills substantial hours now, while numbers and accounting are no longer the basic CFO responsibility they once were. He said, “Strategy, operational focus, things that were outside of the CFO oversight historically are not only part of the daily routine, but they are critical functions driving the organization that the CFO is directly responsible for, especially at a midsized company.”
He went on to say that “the amount of data available to analyze is greater than ever before in every area, and these areas are all requesting millions and millions of dollars. So somewhere between shooting from the hip and overanalyzing is where the CFO has to live.”?In his own world, he said, the “undebatable goal of the organization is improving the fan experience,” so from many competing priorities, these will get the biggest invest- ments: 1) technology, 2) security, and 3) digital ticketing. In the area of security, high- megapixel cameras will show every seat in the stands, allowing facial recognition, “even after the fact, without losing any coverage.”
Tying together his themes, Friedman said, “Fan satisfaction drives interest in the sport and keeps fans watching on TV and buying merchandise. That being said, it certainly does not have the clean, direct connection we learn about in school: Investment A drives Revenue B and then the return works or doesn’t work. At the Jets, the biggest part of my role is understanding what is truly an investment in the fan or just an unnecessary expense in the fan experience.” All CFOs face similarly difficult choices of strategy and prioritizing.