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David Greene
Kelley School of Business

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chief financial officers from 10 top companies gathering Oct. 3 at IU's Kelley School of Business

Sept. 23, 2008

Editors: Reporters are welcome to cover the sessions, but must register with George Vlahakis at 812-855-0846 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Kelley School of Business has invited several people who are responsible for managing the financial risks at some of the world's top companies, including some who are its alumni, to participate in its first CFO Roundtable on Oct. 3.

Ten chief financial officers from leading companies such as Belgacom Group, Boston Scientific, Cummins Inc., John Deere, Ernst & Young LLP, FedEx, Hillenbrand and Whirlpool are coming to IU Bloomington. Thomas Linebarger, Cummins' former CFO and now its president and chief operating officer, also is expected to participate.

They'll be joined by more than 500 Kelley School students at the day-long event. Faculty from Kelley and the IU School of Law--Bloomington will moderate the 12 panel discussions.

David Greene, clinical professor of accounting at Kelley, said the CFO Roundtable will provide students with a rare opportunity to learn how finance and accounting concepts are applied at the highest levels of management.

"I think most students don't have a good idea about what chief financial officers do and the challenges they face," he acknowledged. "This event will provide our students with an understanding that what they are studying in the classroom is relevant. It will provide them with new perspectives through which they can view the problems they've been learning about, particularly through the way CFOs think and react to them and to each other.

"The CFOs may describe their careers and what is most important, and what we're expecting is there's going to be a lot of interaction with the students," he added.

The conference, sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP, will include sessions about corporate governance and ethics, corporate finance, investor relations, international financial reporting standards, legal issues and career advice.

All the companies participating in the CFO Roundtable regularly recruit at Kelley. Greene said he recently added up their total revenues and came up with a figure of $100 billion.

"One of the many things that makes the Kelley School so special is the high degree of interaction our students and faculty have with the world's best business leaders," said Dan Smith, dean of the Kelley School. "The CFO conference provides an opportunity for our students and faculty to gain a first-hand understanding of the major challenges facing corporate financial leaders and for the CFOs to gain a better sense of the interests of our students. It's going to be a very worthwhile day for all involved."

In addition to the obvious benefits for students, Greene expects the program will provide much value for executives. In making preparations for the event, many CFOs told him they wanted to hear more about the issue of generational diversity.

"I polled a number of CFOs and asked them what they would find of interest. One of the things that they put on the agenda was generational diversity. The CFOs are all baby-boomers and they find they don't understand, motivate and incent Generation Y as effectively," he said. "That session is going to be as much about the students presenting to them as them presenting to the students. The idea is that they'll both come up with a better understanding of each other."

The conference also will provide CFOs with assistance in delving into academic research that they frequently may find inaccessible, and turn theoretical information into something practical.

"When I was a CFO, I ignored academic research, largely because there wasn't any easy way to access it," said Greene, who held that position at Young & Rubicam before joining the Kelley School. "In the afternoon, what we're going to do is expose them to some things that we think they don't know about. In some cases, academic research may have raised some questions about the veracity of some of the things that they believe.

"We'd like them to be more interested in academic research," he added. "They could be a wonderful source of ideas … We're going to try to give them a better understanding of what the process is, in a way that will make it more user-friendly and transparent to them going forward."

Ultimately, he hopes the CFO Roundtable will demonstrate to executives how they can turn to a business school like Kelley for useful and independent information that they can use to solve problems.