Mary Hentges was appointed Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of CBS Interactive in August 2010.
Mary Hentges was interviewed for “10 Questions.” Here are her responses:
#1: Can you explain what your role entails?
My 13 year old son thinks I just sit in my office in San Francisco and watch CBS on TV while working on my computer and sipping free coffee and tea. He is sure that every now and again I visit my colleagues in Burbank, New York, London and Florida just for the fun of it. And he is proud that I work here because CBS is a big brand.
In reality, as the Chief Financial Officer for CBS Interactive, I am responsible for the creation and execution of our business strategy, the development of our operating plan and budget and for delivering to our budget commitments for revenue, OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) and free cash flow. I work with the entire business team in enabling our business success by eliminating roadblocks and mitigating risks. At the same time I lead the finance team globally and am responsible for maintaining reasonable controls to assure accurate financial reporting.
#2: What is your proudest and most memorable accomplishment? What have been your biggest surprises?
While my job is fantastic, my proudest and most memorable accomplishments were the births of my 2 children. My husband would tell you my biggest surprise was finding him. From a career perspective, my proudest and most memorable accomplishment is being the first in my family to graduate from college. That’s because my achievement inspired my mom and other siblings to also obtain their college degrees. My biggest surprise in business has been that regardless of the level of effort employed, what gets sponsored gets done. And since the level of sponsorship required depends on the project/task it is up to me to figure out early on what level of support is needed and obtain it.
#3: What training and/or experiences best prepared you for your current position?
While it was my college degree that was instrumental to me getting started in Finance, it was my risk taking appetite that got me to this level. What I mean when I say risk taking appetite is my appetite for taking on global, complicated challenges and succeeding. When I was at HP, it was the carved out financial statements for the spin-off and IPO of the business that became Agilent Technologies. At eBay, it was organically building PayPal’s business globally along with the finance team to support the fast growing highly regulated business.
#4: What has been the defining moment in your career, and explain how it shaped who you are today?
My defining moment was my first, second and third disappointments. Nerves meant I didn’t pass the CPA exam on the first pass, switching public accounting firms 10 years in for independence reasons meant I slowed down my progress and working in a young company with rich founders half my age meant realizing that entrepreneurs succeeded because they followed their passion and took risks. These disappointments gave me the passion to push to succeed in all I pursue and the grace to understand that leadership is a privilege and not a right.
# 5: If you could predict the future, how would you envision CBS Interactive 10 years from now?
Today, CBS Interactive’s most prominent asset is its rich premium content. In 10 years, this premium content will be surrounded by a focused community that has easy access to commerce. And this confluence of content, community and commerce, will be so self re-enforcing that it will enable CBS Interactive to delight both it’s customers (advertiser and consumer) and more than double, if not triple it’s size in terms of revenue.
# 6: What do you like and dislike about lawyers?
I love lawyers that understand the businesses they support and the laws and are a partner in the mitigation of risks and the structuring of transactions in a way that enables business. I have no room for lawyers that can only tell me what I can’t do under the law.
#7: If you were not performing the work you now do, what career would you have?
I would be a dress designer!
#8: What is most exhilarating part of your job? The most frustrating?
The most exhilarating part of my job is exceeding financial goals while building competitive advantage – the most frustrating is unexpected roadblocks.
#9: What would people be surprised to know about you?
My real age and weight – and so would I – as I’ve been in denial for years!
#10: What is your all-time favorite television show on CBS?
Is this question legal? You’re assuming I’m old enough to be in the demographic that watches CBS! Ok, I’ll admit it, my favorite show is 60 Minutes.