In his 10 years as a U.S. naval aviator, Marc Scheipe took one lesson to heart above all others:
Every mission is a team effort.
The aviator might get the glory, but the mission is a failure unless each person involved does his or her job. Pilots work in tandem with their flight officers, other aircraft, commanding officers, and support personnel on the ground or aboard a carrier, just to name a few.
“There’s a whole ecosystem that you have to rely on and work with to be successful,” Scheipe said. “Even after the mission is over, there’s a debrief so you can learn what went right and wrong and what you can apply to the next mission. And at the end of day, you need leadership to move it all forward.”
Sounds an awful lot like modern-day business, doesn’t it?
As a former F-18 fighter pilot and Top Gun candidate with 36 combat missions under his belt, Scheipe doesn’t own your ordinary C-suite resume. In the years since, though, he has padded it with stints as Sage North America’s CFO and interim regional president. In late February, he was named Sage North America’s president.
That makes Scheipe uniquely qualified to take the company’s reins. And like his work in the Navy, his vision for the company is simply to serve.
Either way, Scheipe and his team have you covered.
“We have a portfolio of products that can cover a business of any size right up to the enterprise level. We have many customers who rely on that every day, and we’re very deliberate in saying we will support those customers for life,” he said. “At the same time, we’re embracing a new environment that includes the cloud and mobile. We are very excited about that. … We are continuing to take shape in a way in which we are relevant for new and existing customers for years to come.”
Scheipe says that’s what makes Sage unique — its ability to serve legacy and innovative clients simultaneously.
“We embrace both and try to find ways you can get the best of both worlds as a customer,” he said. “It’s all about choice, and I think we cover those choices better than anybody.”
Today’s CFO plays a more prominent role in that process than ever before. Finance today means strategy, and Scheipe said today’s finance chief “has an opportunity to have a very important voice at the table.” That’s a voice that didn’t exist in years past, but with finance becoming less about crunching numbers and more about interpreting them, that voice is becoming more more prominent and important.
“Traditionally, that role has been to sit in the background and get the books closed right, or make sure we have the correct funding,” he said. “Now, there’s an expectation that the CFO will be a leader of a strong team. That’s tremendously powerful. When that happens, anything is possible.”
Being a future-ready leader, though, doesn’t mean wholesale transformation. Indeed, Scheipe says tomorrow’s finance pro will span the gap between serving legacy clients and striding boldly into unknown territory.
“Don’t forget what’s made you relevant and great. That’s not going away. In many ways, that’s exactly what your customers and clients need,” Scheipe said. “At same time, you have to embrace where the next generation is moving and what their expectations and needs are all about. How will you engage with that next generation? The ways in which they engage with the world is very different from the ways you and I did. It’s not an easy equation. We must figure out a way to do both.”
Either way, the company’s relationship with America’s CPAs remains a key part of Sage’s strategy.
“Accountants are key influencers, and they’re talking to our customers every day. We have to understand what makes accountants’ lives better, because that will make our customers’ lives better,” Scheipe said. “We see that as a symbiotic relationship. We must listen and partner with one another to advance the CPA community and, as an extension, our clients and ourselves.”
Whether you’re a Sage client or not, it’s worth paying attention to the work they’re doing. Companies like Sage are doing important work that’s focused less on their bottom line and more on the future of the profession. Their success will likely lead to our success.
And with Scheipe at the controls for Sage, the sky’s the limit.
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