November 10, 2022 – San Francisco-based Scott Miller Executive Search has assisted in the recruitment of Steve Birdwell as the new vice president of administration and CFO of Fairplex. “We are excited to welcome Steve into the Fairplex family, especially as we embark on a new vision for the next century,” said Walter Marquez, president and CEO. “With the work we are doing on a specific plan for our campus, Steve’s expertise in event management, and customer and community engagement will be invaluable.”
Mr. Birdwell was previously an executive with Desert Champions LLC and Garden of Champions LLC, a sports and event center that is home to the BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells Tennis Tournament. In this role, he managed growth opportunities and development projects. Mr. Birdwell began his career as an accountant before moving into executive leadership positions in the technology and sports and event management industries. Mr. Birdwell is chairman of the Champions Volunteer Foundation, a board and audit committee member of the Desert Community Foundation, and was formerly chairman and treasurer of Upward Bound Sports.
In his new role, Mr. Birdwell will oversee all finance operations for Fairplex, the LA County Fair and Fairplex’s non-profit educational arm The Learning Centers. He will also be in charge of the human resources, technology, and facilities departments. Having grown up in the San Gabriel Valley, Mr. Birdwell is familiar with Fairplex and its flagship event, the LA County Fair. He said his immediate goal in his new position is to get to know the Fairplex team, ask questions, and dig into what the campus holds, then determine the opportunities.
“What drew me to Fairplex is the space,” said Mr. Birdwell. “There aren’t a lot of large venues in the San Gabriel Valley. Fairplex has so much potential. I am intrigued at what the under-utilized space here can become, and how the organization’s vision for what can be is community-focused. I’m looking forward to seeing what can happen in the future.”
Fairplex is a non-profit enterprise with a mission to serve as a place, a convener, and a creator of memories to strengthen the community and economy through arts and entertainment, agriculture, education, and commerce.
Scott Miller Executive Search has a track record of recruiting positions ranging from presidents and executive directors, to vice presidents of development, deans, chief operating officers, chief financial officers and chief people officers. The firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
Mr. Miller, who launched his firm in 2009, has more than two decades of experience with leading executive search firms, professional services firms, and public sector organizations. He previously served as a client partner for nine years at Korn Ferry in San Francisco. During that time, Mr. Miller was a member of the firm’s education, diversity, and association, non-profit, and government specialty practices. Mr. Miller has recruited numerous executives in various LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations, including finding executive directors for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, Horizons Foundation, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Project Inform and Equality California.
The Market for CFOs
The market for senior finance executives remains candidate-centric and brisk, according to Andy Miller, CEO of BrainWorks. “While public discussion of macroeconomic conditions continues to hint at inflation and recession, finance professionals remain fully employed and heavily engaged,” he said. “Among the finance executives, CFOs and business unit financial officers remain in high demand, both to provide oversight for portfolio companies in the PE space and to engage newly created business units by expanding public companies. Tax talent has been in demand for many years and is increasingly scarce. Global and complex tax guidance and leadership, including managers, directors, and analysts remain essential in the proliferation of business strategies. Also engaged at high volume over the last twelve months are controllers, analysts and FP&A professionals.”
The Evolving Role of the CFO
Given the speed at which market conditions, business strategies, and operational structures have changed in recent years, businesses are more aware than ever of the crucial role the chief financial officer plays in shaping and driving a company’s strategic direction. A just-released report by BoardEx of ‘The Role of the CFO 2022’ examines more than 1,400 CFOs who lead major publicly traded companies across 16 countries around the world. Let’s take a closer look.
At the sector level, geopolitical uncertainty, legislative uncertainty, and uncertainty regarding interest rates, inflation, and the potential for recession create sector level challenges. While forecasting is fraught with uncertainty, BrainWorks believes that inflation has peaked and that recession, if it is to be named, is largely a lagging story at this point. “Given the degree of uncertainty in the world, any assessment of what financial services will face in the future is at best educated guessing,” said Mr. Miller. “That said, the challenge of securing top talent, the sufficiency of talent in the marketplace, the rate of change between currencies, tax implications of selected business strategies and the proper filing of documents in support of such strategies, accurate forecasting, analytics, and planning will all remain needful in the sector.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media