For practically 60 several years, AccuWeather has put in-depth climate forecasts at your fingertips. But for 1 person, “forecasting” is not just about the climate. I not long ago spoke with AccuWeather’s CFO, Shannon O’Neill, about how he guides the finance purpose in a interval of spectacular development for his business, spurred by a rise in serious weather conditions functions as effectively as digital transformation. What adopted was an appealing Q&A with a CFO whose part consists of consistently recognizing new prospects although servicing several diverse sorts of buyers, from Fortune 500 clientele in need of long-phrase data to digital application customers on the lookout to come across out if it’s a superior day to go climbing. I also asked Shannon his information about how aspiring finance gurus should put together themselves for occupations in which they can hope to do excursions of a number of industries, making use of classes realized while mastering new lines of small business.
Jeff Thomson: You began your position as CFO of AccuWeather in August of this yr, in the midst of hurricane season in North The usa and the Caribbean and raging wildfires in California. How has the increase in extraordinary climate activities in modern years impacted AccuWeather as a business? What steps has the finance purpose taken to upgrade organization operations to accommodate elevated need for authentic-time weather conditions data?
Shannon O’Neill: Yes, I came aboard AccuWeather in the midst of a file-breaking hurricane and wildfire period, not to point out a worldwide pandemic! 1 of the things which is amazed me the most is AccuWeather’s ongoing capacity to be revolutionary, versatile and transformative in buy to reply to person and customer demands as well as to change to what is happening globally. AccuWeather has a pretty robust observe record of responding to improved demand for our lifetime-conserving items [and] expert services throughout situations of disaster. In quite a few ways, this moment in time is no diverse we stand ready to forecast and report, in depth, on all forms of serious temperature, and to do it more accurately and in advance of all other resources is a aspect of our DNA.
The climate vertical then continues to be an opportune space for expansion. The main of the AccuWeather ethos has normally been steeped in science and innovation, and that speaks volumes about the incredible strides we have built in solution advancement and our capability as a business to out-accomplish our competitiveness in the recent months. This materializes in the form of servicing our extended-lasting partnerships [and] launching a globe class app, all while providing lifesaving, award-successful weather conditions forecasting companies to our buyers and customers.
Thomson: Local weather adjust has emerged as a very important challenge for finance professionals, with buyers demanding extra and far better info on how companies system to lessen climate dangers and/or lead to combatting it and other environmental concerns. How have you viewed ESG evolve in excess of the course of your occupation in finance and what expertise do finance specialists want to cultivate to handle these issues? How can CFOs help deal with local climate adjust and other ESG troubles? What is the part of the CFO in ESG and Sustainability/Built-in reporting for buyers and other internal and external stakeholders?
O’Neill: Local climate modify is a make any difference of powerful curiosity and world-wide importance. Weather conditions and local climate activities have an annual influence of trillions of dollars on the world-wide economy and continue to be leading concerns of leaders worldwide. CFOs can assist tackle local weather improve by championing accountable methods within just their companies and with their suppliers and partners. They can also lead by leveraging their individual strengths. In our scenario at AccuWeather, as an corporation steeped in science, we use our a variety of media and digital platforms, together with our temperature and local climate knowledge, to promote far better, safer and more healthful conditions for all men and women. We give the most correct climate and climate forecasts, comprehensive analysis, reporting and awareness of local weather improve, and the continued progress of exceptional solutions to assist men and women and companies make better decisions as our local weather adjustments.
Thomson: AccuWeather’s original company design was centered on offering forecasting solutions to industrial clientele, but it is now a shopper platform as perfectly. When committing means to client and B2B, how do you ascertain which to prioritize? Which aspect do you see as the major expansion place in decades to arrive?
O’Neill: Our emphasis is on providing an array of solutions to buyers, corporations and the media, but of program, our electronic properties stand for the finest prospect for progress. This calendar year we allotted important methods towards an overhaul of our AccuWeather.com site to refresh its look and rebuild the architecture so that it is even a lot more responsive, and we launched a recently developed shopper application, putting popular options, these as our patented AccuWeather MinuteCast®, front and heart in the property monitor, and even far better entire world-class mapping, primarily based on consumer feed-back and choices.
In addition to this website website refresh and application relaunch, we carry on to search for new solution chances, and to evolve our current types, to meet up with shoppers where they are and deliver functional information. For illustration, earlier this year, we integrated very important air high-quality details and insights into our weather conditions forecasts on Accuweather.com and our app. The facts is sourced from an distinctive partnership with Paris-based Plume Labs, whose primary focus is making air high quality details accessible…to persons around the globe for much better management of their health. This attribute has been significantly important for those people out west dealing with wildfires in excess of the final few months.
Thomson: Apps and streaming solutions have increasingly rivalled or eclipsed tv and radio as sources of details and entertainment. How has AccuWeather responded to this shift in client behavior and tastes? Especially, what guides your decision making when it comes to diversification of revenue streams and ensuring your business stays at the reducing edge?
O’Neill: Diversification and innovation are integral to [keeping] pace with transformation and key to our income approach and development. AccuWeather began as a company that furnished temperature forecasts to ski places and strength providers, and nowadays serves a lot more than 50 % of the Fortune 500 and hundreds of other enterprises globally. Furthermore, we present climate forecasts and warnings to customers through our applications and web page, digital out of house, digital in the home and to media. Our 24/7 AccuWeather Television set Community channel is obtainable on Verizon Fios, DIRECTV, AT&T Television set, AT&T Tv Now and Frontier cable methods and to fuboTV buyers.
Our forecasts are out there on every single conceivable system, which builds our brand and drives downloads of our applications and visitors to our digital properties. In addition, our written content is purposefully designed to communicate the effects of weather conditions in powerful strategies with the ideal wording, graphical shows and videos to charm to today’s electronic-savvy audiences.
Thomson: As an undergraduate at the University of Delaware you researched accounting and you maintain a CPA. Did you generally see you doing the job in business, finally as a CFO? What ordeals led you down the route of remaining a finance qualified in market? What guidance would you give to undergrad accounting pupils who aspire to the CFO function? How can they greatest prepare?
O’Neill: Above my career, I have been fortuitous to maintain numerous different management positions within the media industry – from launching new electronic businesses at Comcast and Golfing Channel, to main the programming and creative vision for Journey Channel and taking care of functions and finance for the Scripps Networks portfolio. I frequently describe my qualifications as CFO-in addition. And at a dynamic, speedy-developing firm like AccuWeather, all its executives are experienced in a number of disciplines.
My advice to finance students, as well as young finance gurus, is usually glance for alternatives to greater understand the functioning aspect of the small business. The most successful CFOs are all those who bring an equal stability of monetary acumen and operational experience.
This post has been edited and condensed.