In her mid-30s, Niki Heim’s youth and innate competitive nature drive her to continue to learn, grow, and excel.
The CFO and chief administrative officer (CAO) of LogicSource began her career with four years in public accounting before joining the largest community bank headquartered in the Pacific Northwest as an auditor and then senior analyst.
Heim next knocked on the door at women’s athletic wear company Title Nine — literally — looking for a way to bring her skills to a business that was aligned with her fitness-focused lifestyle.
Starting as accounting manager at Title Nine, she was promoted to controller after 16 months. When Heim returned to her East Coast roots in 2014, she joined LogicSource as controller before being named executive vice president of finance within a year. She was appointed CFO and CAO in 2020.
CFO and CAO, LogicSource
- First CFO position: 2020
- Notable previous companies:
- Title Nine
- Umpqua Bank
- Stevens Group, CPA
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
SANDRA BECKWITH: How did your background and career experience help you rise to your position?
Niki Heim: I have always looked for opportunities to learn and grow. For example, while still an auditor at Umpqua Bank in Portland, Oregon, I volunteered to construct the bank-wide enterprise risk assessment required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act even though I hadn’t done that before. Later, when the CFO who hired me as LogicSource’s controller left the company just before I started, it was up to me to identify and implement new financial tools and systems to create repeatable processes required by rapid growth.
The utilization time-tracking system I introduced, which was initially a huge ideological and cultural shift for employees, immersed me in much of the company immediately. These experiences, as well as what I learned while reorganizing the financial picture, gave me a broad-based understanding of operations and helped position me as a leader.
Was becoming CFO always the goal? If so, did it change how you approached previous jobs?
Heim: No. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’m fortunate that my most recent roles at Title Nine and LogicSource put me on this path by allowing me to use my technical background to solve critical business problems. My first task as accounting manager at Title Nine was almost a forensic accounting problem requiring me to figure out how the inventory system was impacting our financials. Decoding this gave me the credibility needed to take over the accounting function while the CFO seat was vacant.
With large-scale, business process outsourcing organizations like ours, forecasting is more of an art than a science.
When I joined LogicSource as controller, I was listed as interim CFO on corporate documents my first week. That’s when I began to feel invested in the idea of becoming the permanent CFO. I was either going to make it or not, but it wouldn’t be for lack of hustle.
How does your background affect how you do the job and how might it differ from someone who came to that role from a different path?
Heim: With large-scale, business process outsourcing organizations like ours, forecasting is more of an art than a science. Because I helped create a lot of the backend processes when I joined the company, I have a deep understanding of the levers and how their fluctuations impact the business and, ultimately, the profit margin. Establishing things from the bottom up gives me insights that others without that experience can’t bring to the role.
How do you determine who you hire in finance?
Heim: Culture fit with our small and nimble team of four is what matters the most to me. I look for someone who has a strong desire to succeed and grow — those are the non-negotiables. I can train for job-specific tasks, but I can't train somebody to have grit.
Would you recommend the path you followed to others in finance hoping to become CFOs?
Heim: At times, I was way over my head, but I didn't want to let anybody down. That meant I had to make sure I worked as hard as I possibly could. Would I want somebody else to do that? Yes. I think everybody should go into their job wanting to outperform and continue to do better without having things handed to them. But at the same time, there has been a level of stress I probably don't wish on anybody. Still, I feel extremely fortunate. It’s been tremendously rewarding.
I can train for job-specific tasks, but I can't train somebody to have grit.
What advice would you offer others with experience similar to yours who are hoping to become CFOs?
Heim: It’s about really having a solid understanding of the CEO’s vision. You have to cultivate that understanding, then have that vision rooted in everything you do so that you can execute the strategy. And then, of course, you have to be relentless. You've got to be resilient. And you've got to have grit.