How the Right CEO/CFO Mix Sparked Growth

Mindy Grossman, chief executive of the company once known as Home Shopping Network, credits the right partnering between a CEO and CFO as helping t...
Kathy HoffelderJune 25, 2013

Being successful in the C-suite requires lots of skills, and of them, finding the right partnership between the chief executive officer and the CFO is a prescription for growth, said the two people who fill those roles at HSNi.

“I clearly recognize that I could not be successful in this role without a great partner. Seven years later that hasn’t changed,” Mindy Grossman, the company’s CEO, at CFO’s Women in Finance working session and awards luncheon in May. Grossman, who also sits on the board of directors, joined HSNi from Nike in 2006, where she ran the athletic retailer’s global apparel division.

She works closely with the company’s CFO and newly appointed chief operating officer, Judy Schmeling, who has been the financial head of HSNi since 2001. “You need to find people that you want to be with that both contrast [with] and complement your skills,” said Grossman.

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Under their leadership, HSNi was transformed into a $3.2 billion interactive retailer. Grossman led the firm’s digital expansion of HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network) into one in which digital sales make up more than 35 percent of HSN’s total revenue.

Both Grossman and Schmeling noted that being able to inspire staff and keep everyone on the same page were key steps to good leadership as well as having good communication.

It’s important for corporations today to make sure their “vision is communicated not only internally, but externally as well,” said Schmeling. “It’s also very important to be transparent in what your mission is, what are your strategies and what are your tactics to be able to get them there.”

That kind of communication came in handy when Grossman first joined the firm and when HSNi went public in August 2008. It was a crucial time for HSNi, Grossman recalled at the conference. “Technology was changing dramatically, people’s way of interfacing with brands and media, and their way of consuming was changing dramatically,” she said.