Turnkey Search Seeking CFO for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The sports sector is one of many that have been decimated by arena closures due to COVID-19. Mission-critical roles, however, have been keeping many search firms busy. With that backdrop, Turnkey Search was recently called in by the Pittsburgh Penguins to lead its hunt for a new CFO. Let’s go inside this crucial search!

April 13, 2020 – CFOs continue to be in high demand, especially with a global pandemic at hand. Finding these essential C-suite leaders is helping to keep many of the nation’s top recruitment operations active during these challenging days. Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, has been enlisted to help the Pittsburgh Penguins find a new CFO.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins are an iconic, amazing organization,” said Len Perna, founder and chairman of Turnkey Search. “Mario Lemieux, the owner, and David Morehouse, the CEO, are not only great executives, but just fantastic people. We’re looking for a strong financial planning and analysis CFO to help us refine their business and help parse new initiatives.”


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“CFO roles like this are rare,” Mr. Perna noted. “There isn’t much turnover in sports. The roles are unlike being at larger enterprises or public companies. Besides being thrilling, these roles are also highly satisfying. CFOs at pro sports teams play a big role in the running of these businesses, on and off the ice.”

Position Summary

The CFO will be a key member of the Penguins’ executive team, responsible for initiating strategic financial thinking/leadership to keep the team ahead of market and financial trends, said the search firm. The individual will also directly support and assist the president and CEO on all strategic and tactical matters as they relate to new business development ventures and other organizational initiatives.

“The CFO will optimize the company’s financial management landscape, implementing new financial controls and procedures that will streamline the Penguins’ expenditures and increase profit and (b) anticipate market trends and organizational needs before they occur,” Turnkey said. “The CFO is accountable for the administrative, financial and risk management operations of the company, to include the development of a financial and operational strategy, metrics tied to that strategy, and the ongoing development and monitoring of control systems designed to preserve company assets and report (and predict) accurate and insightful financial results. The CFO will also be responsible for overseeing the finance, and human resources departments.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins want an executive with a minimum of 10 years of senior financial leadership experience. Someone who has been a CFO of a professional sports team or other live entertainment organization is preferred, but not required. “A diversity of experience across a broad range of functional finance areas including: financial planning and analysis, facility development, accounting and controls, budgeting, treasury and tax is important,” the firm said. “In addition, it is important to have demonstrated ability to think proactively and a confident decision maker who will challenge the status quo by finding creative financial solutions, while remaining sensitive to the complexities and multidimensional aspects of the Penguins.”

Qualifications and Skills 

  • Analytical:Synthesize very complex and/or diverse information sets; anticipate potential problems or issues and takes corrective measures before problems arise; sharp and quick on feet in reaction to quickly developing situations; able to write, read, negotiate and close complex agreements; etc.
  • Business and Financial Acumen:Strong business intuition; understand financial and customer implications of all decisions; displays orientation toward profitability; spots opportunities; exploits opportunities; constantly looking for ways to grow and improve business; open-minded toward new business opportunities; etc. An executive with strong financial acumen and proven capabilities to incorporate a higher degree of financial discipline into the operating mentality of the company. He/she will build strong relationships enterprise-wide to garner the support needed to implement new processes and hold the organization accountable for more rigorous financial metrics.
  • Communication Skills:Speak clearly and persuasively; respond well to questions; strong group presentation skills; write clearly and informatively; present numerical data effectively; able to read, interpret and critically analyze written and quantitative information.

Related: Turnkey Search Recruits COO for the Minnesota Vikings

    • Leadership in and Entrepreneurial, Fast-Paced Environment:Demonstrated experience working successfully within a highly collaborative company. This person will serve as a change agent within the company in developing enhanced processes and systems to serve the business. He/she will be influential in leveraging technology to support these processes and must be able to build a team that can support the business both today and in the future. Importantly, this person must by nature be detail-oriented and passionate about precision, by having hands-on orientation and the ability to directly address areas that need attention and by developing solutions that improve operations on a sustainable basis.
    • Management Skills:Able to plan, communicate and monitor all work assignments properly matching responsibility to appropriate person; set challenging and realistic expectations and monitor delegated activities; make self-available to staff; ensure programs are in place for regular performance feedback; coach, mentor and develop employees; etc.
    • Orientation towards Innovation:Critically considers new opportunities, products and businesses to further company’s success; identifies efficiencies for organizational growth; recognizes opportunities for new business lines or offerings; understands the importance of new technology and digital media to organizational growth.
    • Team-Building Skills:Build a strong, cohesive and diverse work force; treat all people with respect; work with integrity and ethically; uphold ownership values; maintain confidentiality; able to recruit and retain top talent; employee training and development; knowledge of EEO policies; etc.

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  • Visionary, Growth-Oriented Business Partner: A business partner who knows how to drive profitable growth, with a strong operations grounding and the capacity to go beyond the numbers in dissecting/analyzing a company’s profitability, productivity, and business practices. Must have a history of working successfully with other senior executives and sophisticated owners to develop business plans and strategies that are coordinated and executed among functions. He/she will be skilled at incorporating diverse points of view and then promoting consensus behind a focused direction, action plan and message to the organization.

Related: Turnkey Search Recruits Juwan Howard as Head Basketball Coach for University of Michigan

Founded in 1967 as one of the NHL’s first expansion teams during the league’s original expansion from six teams to 12, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the top brands and businesses anywhere in sports. The Penguins have appeared in the Stanley Cup finals six times and have won the championship five times, including back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. The Penguins were the first back-to-back champions since 1998, and the first ever since the NHL salary cap was implemented.

20-Plus Years of Experience

Founded in 1996, Turnkey Search is a specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm focused on recruiting C-level, senior-level and mid-management-level talent for sports, entertainment and media enterprises. Over the past 20-plus years, Turnkey Search has filled more than 1,000 positions across these three sectors. The search firm helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity firms and other clients identify, recruit and hire top management talent.

Turnkey’s clients include the University of Alabama, the Atlanta Hawks, CitiGroup, the University of Denver, Louisiana State University, the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee Brewers, the University of Mississippi, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the University of Nebraska, the Oakland Raiders, Richard Childress Racing, RocNation, Rutgers University, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Temple University, Ticketmaster, Townsquare Media, the United Center, VStar Entertainment Group and the Washington Nationals.

Mr. Perna manages all aspects of Turnkey Search. A top executive in the sports industry since 1985, he began his sports career as a business attorney for Cap Cities ABC/ESPN and also served as a top executive for the Detroit Red Wings/Tigers and the Dallas Stars/Texas Rangers.

Related: Turnkey Search Places Commissioner for Major League Rugby

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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