Finance profiles

Finance includes CFO position, comptroller and bookkeeper.

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  • Sorted by last name, below

Jeff Brown

baltimore_so

Controller
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Baltimore, Maryland
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Times in current position: 5 months
Years in the field: 8

Majors:
French Horn and Arts Management
M.B.A. Accounting and Management

Career Path:

Marketing Associate, Court Theatre (Chicago)
Business Manager, Writers’ Theatre (Chicago)
Senior Accountant, Lyric Opera of Chicago

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Managing people and implementing change.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
It’s a great “product” to “sell.” I like being around world-class artists.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Experience counts more than education.

Any other advice?
Familiarize yourself with the repertoire and key industry players.

Jana E. Cox

Finance & Administrative Director
Eugene Symphony Association, Inc.
Eugene, Oregon
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Eugene Symphony

Years in current position: 5
Years in the field: 12

Majors:
Accounting

Career Path:
Bookkeeper for ten years, then went back to school for accounting degree.

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Surprising: How much I actually know and do.  Interesting: Each new season with its music and guest artists.  Challenging: the world of non-profit accounting; working with unions; getting done what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, with the limited help I have.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
When I first starting working here it was just another job. Now, it is my family and I love the music, the musicians, and my co-workers.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
I would advise someone getting into the non-profit accounting world to take college-level courses. Some colleges offer non-profit management certificates that are invaluable.

Any other advice?
This industry is tough. If just starting out, I would look at the history of an organization before I joined it. There are many successful orchestras, but in the same breath, there are those that are not. Look at the upper management and especially at the board of an organization.

Seth Goldman

Chief Financial and Administrative Officer
San Diego Symphony
San Diego, California
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san diego symphony

Years in current position: 3
Years in the field: 3 years

Majors:
Accounting

Additional Training:
Continuing professional education for CPA license

Career Path:
Auditor, Coopers & Lybrand, Miami
Accounting Manager, First Capital Financial Corp., Coral Gables, Florida
Controller, KAR Printing, Miami Lakes, Florida
Vice President of Finance and Controller, Safeskin Corp., Boca Raton, Florida and San Diego
Vice President of Finance, RedDotNet, Carlsbad, California
Vice President of Finance, Arizeke Pharmaceuticals, San Diego

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
The most challenging is, of course, cashflow. Among the most interesting is the opportunity to interface with community leaders.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
I worked my way through college as a club-date musician, and I have always had an appreciation for orchestral music.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Enjoy where you are. I know that my predecessor just did the nine-to-five and, I think, missed out on a lot.

Any other advice?
Get ready to meet some terrific people!

Thomas Mallen

Director of Finance
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles, California
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LA chamber orch

Years in current position: 5+
Years in the field: 40

Majors:
Philosophy/Math/Accounting

Additional Training:
Variety of experience with different industries

Career Path:
Director of Finance, Alex Theatre 
Consultant-Controller: Lewitsky Dance Company, American Investors Escrow 
Consultant, Part-Time Controller for variety of organizations 
Director of Financial Review, Watt Industries 
Director of Accounting: M J Brock & Sons, AM Jacquard Systems
Ralphs Grocery Co.: Manager Manufacturing Accounting, Manager Accounts Payable,  Manager Real Estate Accounting, Assistant Manager Manufacturing Accounting, Cost Accountant

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Challenge: Structuring financial data for internal and external reporting/maximizing QB structure. Interesting: The classical music evirionment. Surprising: Board support and audience loyalty.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
The opportunity to contribute to the organization.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra finance field?

Make sure that accounting is your interest.

Scott Michael

Vice President of Finance and CFO
Pittsburgh Symphony
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
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pittsburgh SO

Years in current position: 20
Years in the field: 23

Majors:
Accounting Information Systems

Additional Training:
Human Resource management, labor relations

Career Path:
Manager of Accounting, Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
Manager of Accounting, Pittsburgh Symphony
Controller, Pittsburgh Symphony 

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Finding cash resources, trying to limit events that provide negative cash flow, trying to do the things that other orchestras do with half the staff.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
My answer is actually to the question “What keeps me inspired to work for an orchestra?” There is really nothing as directly satisfying as watching 2,700 people pour into your hall and see how excited they are. There is a direct connection to the end product that is probably missing in any other job.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Business and art generally do not blend well. The relationship has to be worked on constantly to be successful. There is a lot of compromise.

Gwyn Morris

Director of Finance and Administration
Owensboro Symphony Orchestra
Owensboro, Kentucky
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Years in current position: 8
Years in the field: 8

Majors:
Accounting

Career Path:
Paraprofessional, Public Accounting for fifteen years
Finance Director, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?

Working with such a constantly changing array of people, due to board rotation. Keeping an organization within the confines of a strict budget is a major challenge.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
They were in need of a finance person and at the time my schedule allowed me to help.

What were the first steps in your professional career?
I started out as an assistant in a payables office. I learned the inner workings of an organization and that was very helpful.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Be ready to work hard and always be prepared for the many personalities that you come in contact with in the arts world.
 

Shelley Myers

Director of Finance
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Little Rock, Arkansas
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arkansas so

Years in current position: 2.5
Years in the field: 14+

Majors:
Finance
Additional Training:
CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)

Career Path:
I was in banking before sitting for the CPA exam. Then, I worked in public accounting and moved to the orchestra as Director of Finance.

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
The most challenging aspects relate to time management, cash-flow management, and non-profit accounting.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
I was more interested in the position than the organization. The orchestra is just an extra benefit that has been exceptionally interesting to learn about.

What were your first steps in your professional career?
I chose non-traditional banking, moved to forensic accounting, and now am a CFO.
What advice would you offer to someone considering finance work with an orchestra?
I strongly recommend that everyone in this position be a CPA.

Any other advice?
If you are interested in Finance, get training in non-profit accounting and have a strong accounting software package.
 

David Rupp

Financial Manager (volunteer)
Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra
Saginaw, Michigan
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saginaw bay SO

Years in current position: 5
Years in the field: 5

Majors:
Accounting and Business

Career Path:
City of Saginaw: Controller, Accountant, Account Clerk

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
It has been rewarding to see the progress that has been made.  There is never enough money and it takes a major effort to find new sponsors and contributors every year!

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
To provide financial and accounting expertise to a struggling orchestra and keep me busy after I retired at age 50.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Work hard, learn as much as possible, and ask questions about the way things are done.
It is not going to pay very well, so you have to do it because you love the music and you believe that others will benefit from the experience of attending a symphony concert.

Any other advice?
It takes a lot of hard work and effort from dedicated volunteers to keep a symphony orchestra in the black each year. It is so much tougher these days to compete for contributor’s dollars. If you believe in the power of the music, you need to get others to believe as well. Symphonic music still has a place in today’s society, no matter where you live! 

Don Stults

Finance Assistant
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles, California
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LA chamber orch

Years in current position: 3+
Years in the field: 3+

Majors:
Mathematics, Economics.

Joe Toups

Controller
Louisiana Philharmonic
New Orleans, Louisiana
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louisiana phil

Years in current position: 7
Years in the field: 7

Majors:
Business Administration

Additional Training:
QuickBooks training 
Excel training
Career Path:
Administrator, Symphony Chorus of New Orleans
Management, construction industry

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Working with temporarily restricted revenue.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
Lifelong love of orchestral music combined with business experience.

Would you have done anything differently?
I joined the family construction firm out of college, where I stayed for 23 years. If starting over, I would have left that field sooner.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
Acquire as much technical training as possible and have a working knowledge of how orchestras operate.

Any other advice?
Hop on! It’s a great ride, a great chance to work with highly intelligent, motivated people.

Wendy H. Warren

Finance Director
Roanoke Symphony Orchestra
Roanoke, Virginia
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roanoke

Years in current position: 1+
Years in the field: 3

Majors:
History
Additional Training:
Self-educated in accounting

Career Path:
Administrative Assistant, American Heart Association 
Office Manager/Finance Director, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra
Self-employed artist and full-time mother for ten years 
Office Manager, WVEMS Council (non-profit) 
Finance Director, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
I am educating myself in non-profit management in general, and learning all aspects of business management and finances. The most challenging parts of the job are getting ready for monthly board meetings, and ensuring that the finances are in order.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
I loved my job when working here 20 years ago and wanted to return after re-entering the job force. Working for the RSO is very fun and inspiring!

Would you do anything differently?
I would have gotten a master’s degree before having three children!
What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
That anyone can do a job well with good training and experience.

Any other advice?
Working for an orchestra can be fun if you can overlook the stress, and enjoy the music!

Renee Neville

Director of Finance
Naples Philharmonic Orchestra
Naples, Florida
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Years in current position: 3
Years in the field: 6

Majors:
Finance, Business Administration

Career Path:
Finance Director,YMCA
Chief Financial Offer, First Credit Union of Gainesville
Director of Finance, Philharmonic Center for the Arts

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Challenging: Balancing the budget, dealing with declining ticket sales.  Interesting: There is always something new popping up.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
We are a performing arts center, an orchestra and a museum. The mix of the above. A good reputation in the community.

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
A realistic view of what is happening in the orchestra world—the lack of funding, declining ticket sales. In other words, share the good, along with the bad. 

Elias Thomas

Finance Director
Elgin Symphony Orchestra,
Elgin, Illinois
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elgin symphony
Years in current position: 1
Years in the field: 1

Majors:
Business Administration, Finance

Additional Training:
Various seminars

Career Path:
Vice President Finance, Royal Crown Cola Co.
Area Controller, Seven Up Co.
Operations Auditor, Seven Up Co.

What are the most surprising, interesting or challenging aspects of your day-to-day work?
Managing the cash flow of a small orchestra, as well as working with a non-profit board.

What inspired you to work for an orchestra?
I thought it would be a new experience in my career.

What was your first step toward an orchestra career?
I posed many questions to many people and learned a lot of important aspects of the job. 

What advice would you offer to someone considering the orchestra field?
If you are planning to switch from a for-profit environment to a non-profit, make sure you can stick with it until you feel comfortable. Also, make sure you are committed to the non-profit and classical music world.

Any other advice?
The staff is limited, and you may have to wear many different hats. But to be part of the field is exciting. Also, I really like the willingness of staff from other orchestras to share their expertise with newcomers on any subject. This is a remarkable thing in my mind.