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The podcast featuring finance leaders driving change within their organizations.

Mar 20, 2019

Among the many flights that CFO Stefan Schulz has taken between Minneapolis and Houston over the years, few are etched in his memory better than a certain return flight to Minneapolis—during which he created an ambitious list of Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) action items. The list that Schultz created in the air that day was long and detailed, and while he may not have ever used it as such, the list was the muscle behind an ultimatum.

"I was thinking about all that I would need in order to get things fixed. Basically, I was thinking, 'If I don't get these, then you need to find somebody else,'" explains Schulz, who at the time had not yet been a month into a new job with Lawson Software when he determined that it was time to alert Lawson's board and upper management to its snowballing SOX compliance challenge.

"To my surprise, they told me, 'We want you to do exactly what you said' and 'We've got your back.' This really changed how I approached problems and how I would recommend solutions going forward," explains Schulz, who had earlier earned his SOX street cred while a controller at BMC Software.

Fourteen years and multiple tours of duty as a CFO later, Schulz is still flying back and forth between Houston and Minneapolis and still making lists. These days, his action items are more likely to highlight the priorities of a SaaS CFO for whom the new rules of customer-centric finance loom large and customer success is increasingly top-of-mind. –Jack Sweeney