NorthWind Partners Recruits CFO for Red River

May 7, 2024 – Reston, VA-headquartered executive search firm NorthWind Partners has placed Brent Pugh as the new CFO for Red River in Claremont, NH. Partner Hunter Murray led the assignment. “Brent’s track record serving the defense industrial base provides tremendous value to Red River and will have immediate benefits to our team, our customers and partner community,” said Brian Roach, CEO for Red River. “He brings a deep understanding of how to optimize business operations with strong cost structures, governance and services and solutions road mapping that leads to long-term, sustainable growth.”

Mr. Pugh brings over 20 years of leadership experience in the U.S. and international aerospace and defense industry. He most recently served as the chief financial officer of CAE’s Defense and Security business, responsible for a $2 billion high technology organization with more than 6,000 employees. Mr. Pugh also served as the treasurer of CAE USA Inc., the company’s U.S.-based subsidiary independently operating under a Special Security Agreement (SSA) to mitigate foreign ownership, control or influence (FOCI). He has served in financial leadership positions across several organizations including L3Harris Technologies and public accounting firms Arthur Andersen and KPMG.

“I am pleased to join a company that has such a strong reputation for delivering expertise across key technologies like cloud, cyber and AI while building trusted relationships internally and externally,” said Mr. Pugh. “These longstanding relationships combined with the integrity of the company’s operations and its powerful culture make Red River an ideal place to work and a unique opportunity to leverage these strengths for continued growth.”

Red River is a technology transformation company serving government and enterprise customers. It serves organizations well beyond traditional technology integration, bringing more than 25 years of experience and mission-critical expertise in managed services, AI, cybersecurity, modern infrastructure, collaboration and cloud solutions.

Related: A Look at How the CFO Role in Private Equity is Evolving

NorthWind Partners is a global, strategic executive search advisory firm. Its work is primarily focused on business and professional services, systems, solutions, and product companies spanning the aviation, aerospace and defense, healthcare, industrial, and technology sectors. The firm also has deep experience and relationships in the government contracting arena. NorthWind Partners’ success rate on engaged assignments is about 96 percent with 99 percent of executives placed maintaining a minimum tenure of one year.

Over the past two decades, Mr. Murray has had deep interest in all facets of technology. He has broad experience in both commercial and public sectors and is often called upon by clients and industry associations to bridge the gap between these two markets. Mr. Murray has completed searches at the board, C-suite and all tiers of vice presidents for SaaS, data analytics, cloud, and cybersecurity companies.

Evolving CFO Roles

Today, CFOs are being asked to play an ever-broader role. “The tumultuous environment companies are operating within demand a different skill-set in the CFO chair,” said ON Partners co-president Tim Conti. “CFOs are playing a critical strategic role in companies, not only to pull levers necessary to secure a company’s financial platform, but also to position the company to emerge in a strong competitive positioning in a marketplace where not all will survive. This requires the CFO to lead from the front, be strategic and savvy, to navigate a company through choppy waters. When boards and CEOs do not have confidence that they have this strategic CFO, then they have no choice but to seek out an alternative.”

Financial Services is Booming, CFO Role Continues to Evolve
Despite economic uncertainty and the challenges of finding top talent, the financial sector continues to change and grow. Interviewed by Hunt Scanlon Media, search leaders who specialize in the sector offer their insights on the path forward, the CFO’s responsibilities, and more.

“In times like these, where businesses demand hyper-agility, being a functional specialist isn’t good enough,” said Bryan Buck, partner at ON Partners. “It’s required now that CFOs can see around corners and understand the physical (and digital) trends that are reshaping their world – and then act quickly. They need to think like P&L owners – not like accountants. Regardless of the product or service their company offers, customer expectations have changed. And the CFOs in highest demand right now are the ones who have proven to be nimble and business-focused enough to drive organization’s to where the puck is moving (both organically and inorganically).”

This business environment is also putting more pressure on CFOs. “There’s definitely more need for CFOs to operate with transparency around the realities of the market conditions, how those conditions are impacting the business in the short and long term, and what strategic steps are being taken to address the challenges faced,” said Mr. Conti. “Shareholders understand that market conditions are challenging, and they’ll be more patient in these unique times, but only if they have confidence in the CFO’s leadership and strategy.”

“Yes – and it’s industry-agnostic,” Mr. Buck added. “For public companies specifically, those in negatively impacted sectors are trying to survive the rapid slow down, and maintain various levels of ongoing business operations, while planning and positioning for a potential recovery that could happen within the next few quarters…or the next few years,” he said. “Public finance leaders on the other end of that spectrum are seeing tremendous growth and demand, but they’re also cognizant that current share price reflects Wall Street’s expectation of perfection – leaving no room for quarterly missteps.”

Related: How the CFO Position Continues to Evolve

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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