Meet Jenny Kray, CFO of the Year
MNCPA member named to MSPBJ list
| December 2019/January 2020 Footnote
Editor's note: Updated November 30, 2019
Like past MNCPA members who were recipients of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s CFO of the Year award, Jenny Kray couldn’t believe it.
“I was in denial,” the CFO of Calabrio said.
Recognized in the large private company category for helping Calabrio through a transformative phase, the Business Journal said Kray was the savvy CFO needed to help the company “manage its growth and evolution.”
Kray recently took time to chat with us about what the honor means to her.
After you’ve had some time to reflect on the award, what are your thoughts now?
I feel so blessed. 2019 has been an exciting year for us at Calabrio with our international acquisition of Teleopti and moving to our new headquarters in the North Loop. We have a great team at Calabrio, and I am so fortunate to be able to represent the company in this way.
Tell us a little bit about your role. What’s it like overseeing the finances for a large private company?
I am responsible for leading Calabrio’s finance, legal, deal desk operations, facilities and IT functions and teams. I enjoy leading more than just the finances of a company and being more operational.
There are so many different aspects of finance to oversee for a large private company, such as strategic planning with the executive leadership team and the board, evaluating and executing on M&A deals, risk management, global cash planning, budgeting and forecasting, and data analysis, to name a few.
What is some of the best advice you’ve received in your career?
I was about to have my second child and my boss at the time said to me, “Don’t come back thinking you can function at 100%. You will be lucky if you come back at 80%. Take your time easing back into your role. You need to pace yourself, but more importantly, not be too tired being a new mom of two at home. It’s a big responsibility.”
That meant a lot to me and I let many people know that in and outside of my company.
What did you want to do for a living when you were a kid? What about that choice resonated with you?
I wanted to be a baseball player. The thrill of the game, the chance to come from behind in the bottom of the ninth and being a part of the team excited me the most.
What ultimately led you to pursue a CPA instead of the baseball diamond?
My dad was a small-business owner in rural Wisconsin while I was growing up. He noticed my interest in math and in his business, so he had me do light bookkeeping in high school. This experience led me to pursue an accounting degree in college and work as an auditor at a Big 6 accounting firm. While there, I explored a variety of businesses to decide what industry I ultimately wanted to work in.
What’s the best way for a CFO at any stage in their career to establish credibility?
Show up as a committed, proactive business partner. Also, if mistakes happen, own up to them and have a plan for resolution. Then execute and avoid repeating the mistake.
What’s the secret to being a successful CFO?
I think that there are many secrets to being a successful CFO. The major ones that come to mind are to be innovative, to be open to new ideas and to strive to align with your boss, the CEO, as best as possible. Figure out how to make your boss’s job easier because they have the hardest job of the entire company.