Cowboy Up

A veteran CFO feeds his rodeo-roper alter ego.
Kate PlourdMay 1, 2008

Growing up in Beverly Hills, Steve Freed didn’t hang out on tony Rodeo Drive. Instead, the current CFO of Steward Realty Management Co. was drawn to the real thing. “I got very into the western lifestyle,” says Freed, who spent summers teaching horseback riding and competing on the California Junior Rodeo Circuit.

That love is still so ingrained that in January the 50-year-old finance executive embarked on a yearlong rodeo roping tour that will travel from New Mexico to Las Vegas. Freed plans to donate his prize money from roping competitions to a charity for cancer research. And to increase the contribution, he is underwriting all the costs himself, including entry fees of $1,500 per show.

So far, Freed has amassed $4,100 in winnings. But life isn’t all rope burns and saddle sores for the CFO, who has spent the last 30 years at the realty company his father cofounded. In addition to traveling with horses and spurs, Freed keeps a computer and printer handy to stay connected with business duties from the road.

In fact, Freed sees no disconnect between finance and roping. “When I’m competing, it’s about focus, clarity, and what you can do to improve your situation.” The same, he says, is true in finance.