May 28, 2012, 8:02 AM — Name: Catherine Goodison
Time with company: 10 years
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Virginia Polytechnic and State University
Company headquarters: San Luis Obispo, California
Company locations: U.S., U.K., Australia and Philippines
Number of employees total: 54
Number of employees the CFO oversees: 3
CFO's areas of responsibility: HR, finance, general policy
About the company: Cormant provides IT infrastructure management software systems for midsized to large enterprises across a range of industries.
1. Where did you start in finance and what experiences led you to the job you have today?
Right out of college, I started in public accounting. I joined a small firm that was based in the Washington, D.C., area. It was great. The senior partner there had almost 50 years of public accounting experience and he really developed a client base which covered everything from car dealership owners to large military supply contractors to the government.
I was thrown into everything from year-end financial statements to tax-return preparation to audit to general accounting consulting services. It was tremendous, but what I discovered early on was that to be able to give good financial advice I really needed to be able to better understand the private sector, so after almost four years, I left public accounting and landed a job as an assistant controller for a company in Washington, D.C., that provided travel insurance services. Let's say you had an emergency while traveling and your credit card covered your trip, you would call the 800-number on the back of your credit card and we were the company you spoke to.
It was an international operation -- at least 80 percent of the staff spoke two languages. That proved crucial even in the finance department because we received a lot of paperwork from all over the globe written in different languages. This was my first experience in international finance. I learned that working styles and reporting standards and requirements differ around the globe. That was, and still is, interesting to me.
I left that job after two years because my husband was offered a great job in Singapore. We went without any expectation of me working. I was very fortunate to land a job almost immediately with KPMG Peat Marwick in their international tax department. I provided tax services to U.S. citizens working in Asia and companies in Singapore that needed to file tax returns in the U.S. I worked for them almost four years until we left Singapore.