Roshan White was born and raised in Ohio. She received her BS in accounting with a statistics concentration from Miami University in Oxford, OH, followed by her MBA in finance with an entrepreneurship emphasis from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
White began her career at KPMG in Columbus, OH, as a supervising senior auditor and tax specialist. After returning to school for her MBA, she started at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, NC, in 1997. Over six years, she moved up from associate and telecommunications and media finance group to vice president of portfolio management to the director.
In 2008, White returned to work at Furr and Dulin PA/The Daniel Group as an accountant and research analyst. Then in 2014, she started at Hearst Business Media. Over the next five years, she moved her way from up senior business analyst to interim business unit finance lead, to the director of finance. White partnered with business units, and through team efforts, Roshan White’s team created 5-year CAGRs for revenue and income of 21% and 24%, respectively. She also served as the interim finance leader for a healthcare technology company. White led it through a strategic “pivot,” which resulted in a 210 basis point increase in margin while the company re-tooled for its new strategic initiatives and new product launch.
Roshan White currently resides in Charlotte, NC, with her family.
How has your career progressed to the point it is now?
My career has progressed by never giving up. My career path has been very different from what I initially set out to do; nonetheless, it has been perfect for me. My goal, in the end, has always been to be a leader within a company. I started off doing audit and tax at KPMG, and from there, I went on and furthered my education, receiving my MBA in finance & entrepreneurship. After that, I worked in investment banking for several companies within various industries.
Next, I had my daughter. When I decided to return to work, the financial crisis of 2008 had just begun, eliminating any opportunity to go back to investment banking. Despite that, I did not give up. I went on to work in corporate finance. I was able to use and strengthen the skills I had picked up over the years while also developing new skills and expanding my skillset & financial knowledge. At Hearst Business Media, our team efforts created 5-year CAGRs for revenue and income of 21% and 24%, respectively.
By not giving up and by continually focusing on learning new things, I was able to use my skills within corporate finance. Throughout my career, I have developed and added new capabilities to my tool belt, starting from CPA and accounting to investment banking, to corporate finance.
How do you remain motivated?
What keeps me motivated is knowing that I’m adding value. I’m always looking to find places where I can add value. I think that goes back to being a servant leader, in that if I know I have a goal in mind, and I’m serving the greater good of others, it keeps me motivated.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I think a good day is when it’s a different day. Every day of mine is a different day; there’s nothing typical about it. I start my day the night before by making a to-do list for the next day, that way I know what I need to finish and I’m not noodling over it the rest of the evening. It gives me a clean break, a good night’s sleep, and a fresh start each morning.
The first thing I do in the morning is to take some time to meditate in God’s word, followed by some form of exercise – often yoga or a brisk walk. I then dive into my day, which typically consists of phone calls throughout the day with various business partners. When I’m on calls and interacting with teammates are the highlights of my day. At lunchtime, I find a way to step away from the office and disconnect even if it means simply going for a walk around the block. Then, at the end of my workday, I make that to-do list before I head home.
Can you please explain to our readers what operational transformation is?
Operational transformation is a transformation that can unlock the full potential of business operations. It’s usually sustained by building your company’s capabilities and adding agility where it’s needed. You can do this across your business in several different ways, and it’s becoming increasingly important as companies become more things to more people.
Within corporate finance, we see it specifically as we do ERP implementations. Our customers are often our business units and our board of directors, so being able to meet our customers’ desires through technology has required many of these transformations, especially with financial reporting and managing financial data.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in corporate finance?
My advice is to be adaptable and flexible. Corporate finance isn’t what it used to be. For the past 20 years, it was the same thing for reporting and analytics, and now, with technology, ERP systems, and AI, it’s becoming more of pure analytics of the big data. While AI can do a lot, it’s now what you can do with that data that’s evolving the role of someone working in corporate finance. For me, it is becoming more relevant to be able to manage that big data. So, I believe being adaptable and flexible, along with having a technologically savvy mindset, are the keys to being successful in a role in corporate finance because it is ever-changing.
What technology do you use to make yourself more productive?
The key to my remaining productive has been utilizing my calendar, a shared calendar within teams like Microsoft Teams. It keeps me on task and prioritizing my goals and allows others to see them. My teammates can know what I’m working on, and I can see what they’re working on. I think that it has added to our efficiencies as a team by using the technology within Microsoft and Office 365.
Can you please describe your greatest professional achievement?
One of our portfolio companies at Hearst was experiencing a disruption within their market from other competitors, and their product was quickly losing favor. Renewals were in a precipitous decline as their technology became less useful. I was initially brought in to help financial reporting and perform an analysis of the situation. While I was there and working with the executive team, we came up with a new business plan to allow for cost savings and margin support so that the company could have enough time to develop a new product pathway and allow the company to remain viable in the meantime. They were able to maintain their margins while developing new technology to replace the out of favor product.
By assessing analytics, I was able to look at trends, current functions, and new product development to determine which employees were critical and the “who, what, when” of needs for the future. As a result, the company was able to grow by maintaining margins of the existing product while also continuing to develop the new product, helping the company progress in a positive direction. This resulted in a margin improvement plus the stabilization of the company while allowing for time to redirect the product development and establish the new course of action.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance
I work to maintain a healthy work-life balance through my daily routine of building in breaks and making time to re-energize through exercise and time with my family. My to-do lists developed at the end of each day allow me to leave my work at the office when I go home. I don’t have to hold onto it in my mind, and it lets me step away clearly so I can re-energize. By leaving it at the office, it allows me the freedom to enjoy other aspects of my life.
I make sure I’m home to be with my family during the critical times of day, before school and after school through dinner. If needed, once my daughter starts her homework, I start mine.
By defining what’s important to me, and then being there for those critical times, that is what gives me my work-life balance. For example, my traditional day might not look like a nine to five. It might look more like coming in at seven in the morning, working for a few hours, and then leaving to attend my daughter’s dance performance at school. Then I come back in and work some more. Having that flexibility in my work allows me to be present in both my life-moments and my work-moments. It gives me the balance I need so that I can get a good night’s sleep each night.
What habit of yours do you suggest our readers try out, and why?
I learned this early in life – be a continuous learner. It’s having that intellectual curiosity, and I highly recommend that if you don’t already have it, you try to nurture that aspect in your life. Being aware of what you don’t know when you’re at work is one of the most important things you can ever do for yourself. By knowing what you don’t know when you’re in a meeting, you can bring to the table with confidence precisely what you do know in a positive aspect. Then you can also learn from your teammates and those above and around you. As you grow into leadership positions, I believe it’s essential to know your weaknesses and not be intimidated by them as opposed to trying to hide them.
Lastly, trust your gut. I’ve always done this. Go with your gut and be decisive. There’s this thing called “analysis paralysis” that many fall prey to, especially now with AI and larger data sets. You’ve got more data at your fingertips than you’ve ever had. So instead of getting to that point, be very decisive. You don’t have to be 100% correct, just be sure you’re “directionally correct” and disclose as much. Also, if you come with a problem, bring a solution. If you’re coming with analysis, provide those other analyses that support it. Be decisive in what you bring to the table.
What is your favorite quote?
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.