In college, I took a swimming class.
One day, the instructor encouraged people to go off the high diving board. I didn’t know how to swim just yet, but I decided to try anyway. I climbed up to the top of the high dive. When I saw how high I was, I got afraid. I asked to go back down, but they said I couldn’t. Eventually I stepped off. It wasn’t a graceful dive, but I did it despite the fear.
I love to be challenged.
Throughout my career, I’ve been ready and willing to take on new opportunities.
The first opportunity was when I started as a consultant right out of college. I had no previous plans of entering the field because I was looking for a traditional sales role, but I grabbed hold of the consulting opportunity anyway and thrived.
After three years, however, I began to feel that the very technical nature of my work didn’t line up with my interest as much as general business management might.
That’s when I learned the importance of speaking up when you think you can make a contribution. After I spoke up, they gave me the opportunity to take a leap and move to a position where I was wearing many hats, from human relations to marketing to finance.
Over time, I began to gravitate toward finance. I had the ability to understand numbers and make the connections, a skill I have cultivated through the years.
When I’m in meetings, it’s almost like I can visualize how a human relations action, for example, will result in a particular financial outcome.
I found that I could help articulate those connections in a way that could help business leaders understand them too.
In the ensuing years, I also learned the importance of embracing change and being a change agent.
For example, I remember when Accenture had organized its business around industries vertically, capabilities horizontally, all in a geographic context — it’s a matrix organization.
I wound up the lead finance person in each part of the dimensions of how the company managed its business.
Later, we were installing a new custom financial system. I took a leap and volunteered to be a region lead for the implementation. I provided input and helped train. We accomplished our goal of creating the ability to see the company’s finances along the industry dimension.
I also helped with another very large organization realignment within the global finance organization. I was the program manager for a project where we developed an approach for service delivery that involved developing a global delivery system. We did it with no increase in cost.
Then I took another leap.
After 27 years with Accenture, I decided to move to a company where I would drive a set of global change initiatives.
It was a tough decision, but I felt like I had accomplished a lot at Accenture and I was seeking new opportunities and challenges.
Shortly after the move, the opportunity at Merkle arose. It was extremely attractive to come to this established high-energy company.
I come from a very nontraditional finance background. I haven’t spent a great deal of time in controllership, but my experience is making the intersection of finance and business tangible no matter the challenge. That’s what I want to help do here.
— Interview with
Position: Chief financial officer and executive vice president of Merkle, a Columbia marketing agency.
Career highlights: Senior vice president of operations, Quintiles; global managing director of finance and operations, Accenture Management Consulting; managing director of finance, Accenture North America; and global managing director of finance and operations, Accenture’s resources business unit.
Education: BS, business administration, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Personal: Commutes between Columbia and Cary, N.C. Married to Greg Holder.