The 6 a.m. CFO: How McHenry County’s Kevin Bueso Starts His Day

Bueso reflects on his childhood in Honduras when work gets stressful, and what it means to be a fan of FC Barcelona.
The 6 a.m. CFO: How McHenry County’s Kevin Bueso Starts His Day

Welcome to The 6 a.m. CFO, where finance chiefs share how they jump-start their days and engage with the tasks that are in front of them. 

Today, McHenry County’s CFO Kevin Bueso shares how he looks back to his childhood to keep things in perspective when work gets stressful, about one of his paintings that made its way back to him after 21 years, and the sport that obsesses him.

To learn more about Bueso’s work in the public sector and his thoughts on work-life balance, you can find CFO’s story here.

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

How Startup CFO Grew Food Company 50% YoY

This case study of JonnyPops’ success highlights the unusual financial and operational strategies that enabled rapid expansion into a crowded and highly competitive frozen treat market. 

If you’d like to be featured in a future post, please email us here.

kevin-bueso.jpegMcHenry County

  • Located in the U.S. state of Illinois. With a population of 310,229, it is the sixth-most populous county in Illinois. Its county seat is Woodstock.

  • Years in office: 3 

  • Size: 1200 county employees

  • Annual budget: $261.5M

Morning Routine

Weekday wake-up time and the first thing I like to do: Normally, I am up by 6 a.m. and the first thing I do is write on my DayOne app. I use two templates for “5-Minute Gratitude” and ” Today I will…” journals.

Then I look at my scheduled meetings and plan my day on my reMarkable (meetings, notes, reminders, todos, etc).

You may think … aren’t there apps for those? And, yes, you’re right. I enjoy writing, and reMarkable gives me a sense of getting things done without carrying multiple notebooks around, but gives me a sense of writing on paper, which encourages me to keep crossing items off.

Coffee, tea, or other morning beverage choice: Coffee. Black. I drink a good amount of it throughout the day. One of my favorite brands is Death Wish Coffee, since I like strong coffee.

Workday start time: During my morning routine, I check my email and send a few emails out related to the items I would like to get done during that day. I virtually check in around 7:30 a.m.

When I go into the office, I am in between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.

How I usually spend the first hour of my day: I spend my first hour cleaning up my inbox, planning for my day, and getting caught up on where we are at with some projects.

In local government, the finance department also tends to serve as an “innovation hub” and we always manage projects that impact the entire organization.

Time I send out my first email: Normally, I sent my first email between 6:30 and 7 a.m., but it depends on what is going on.

For example, during budget seasons, I may be sending emails earlier because we have twenty-four board members who may be reaching out at different times of the day, depending on their own schedules.

Best advice for writing an effective email: Short, to the point, and with clearly defined expectations (if you need a response, when, how, etc.).

If you are just informing, short. As with most communication-related topics, consider your audience.

First dashboard I review: There are multiple dashboards I look at, but the ones I review first include: accounts payable, journal entries — which may impact monthly financial reports — budget to actuals, and accounts receivable.

How I structure my morning meetings: My morning meetings tend to be high idea-generation type or problem-resolution meetings. The more check-in type of meetings I leave for afternoons.

Mid-morning snack of choice: I don’t always snack mid-morning. But when I do, I prefer Zambos, which are plantain chips imported from Honduras, where I was born and raised. Not necessarily healthy, but good stuff.

Leadership and Inspiration

Favorite quote or mantra: Think of your wildest dream and go for it, because you are so lucky to be alive in the most advanced era of humankind: the present.

Favorite leadership lesson: Your comfort zone is a dangerous zone to be in — volunteer for projects and initiatives you don’t feel comfortable in.


Something important to know about me that you wouldn’t know from my business bio: I am obsessed with football (soccer) — big fan of FC Barcelona. I follow several leagues across the world.

A few of my favorite experiences were visiting Barcelona’s Spotify Camp Nou and Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadiums in 2016 as well as watching El Clasico (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid) in Las Vegas in 2022.

Do you have a pet sitting in your office right now: No. I do have a 14-year-old Morkie (Maltese-Yorkshire terrier mix), but I don’t bring her into the office due to her health conditions.

Favorite app on my phone that is not related to business: Kayak. I can keep track of my trips, itineraries, packing lists, etc.

When do you take time for learning/reading: Later in the day. It is more of a winding down habit whether it is a book, a professional publication, or an article.

IMG_1394_Original copy.jpg

Most noteworthy items in my workspace: When I was a high school student, I used to paint (oil-based on canvas) and my paintings would be sold to volunteers.

The last painting I did was sold in 2001 to the volunteer who sponsored me to come to the U.S. Student paintings were more of a fundraising tool for our boarding school. He donated $50 or $100 without really expecting to hang it anywhere, but he saved it. While he was moving to Delhi, India, due to a job, we found the painting. I framed it and 21 years later, it hangs in my office.

I also have pictures of my 19-month-old daughter and a few awards, such as the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award, Budget Award Plaque, etc.

Favorite number (and why): 9. Since it is the last\highest of the single numbers, it represents the ending of something (old, past, etc) and the beginning of something (new, future, etc). 

What was the last job you did at your company that fell outside your traditional scope of work: Once in a while, I will volunteer to cover our front counter and answer questions from walk-ins and phone calls.

What’s one way in which you have learned to manage work-induced stress: I am probably one of the most laid-back CFOs you will come across. It depends on the company culture whether this is a good thing or a bad thing (or my direct manager or the challenge we are addressing).

Whenever a stressful situation comes up in my professional life, I always go back to my growing-up days in Honduras to put things into perspective.