New at the Top: Brian Daum builds businesses one at a time

From my first job until today, I have always helped out with entrepreneurial growth opportunities.

My father helped build GNC from three stores to 3,000 and was a chief executive. He had a tremendously positive impact on me. I always wanted to be like him. He could put deals together in his head. He really set a standard for me.

I had a belief that with hard work and dedication, you can do great things in your life.

I got my start in public accounting with Ernst & Young. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I saw accounting as the language of business and thought it was something I wanted to do in my career.

They immediately assigned me to big banks. It was really tedious. You were doing a small piece of this enormous thing. I didn’t feel like I was truly impacting the company. I moved over to the emerging businesses side after a couple of years and that’s where things really clicked.


Brian Daum is the chief financial officer at Savi Technology, a logistics and supply-chain-solutions company in Alexandria. (Courtesy of Savi Technology)

This was before the days that venture capital took off. I worked with founders who may have maxed out on three or four credit cards and depended on loans from their parents but they were fundamentally trying to build good businesses. There was no lack of energy and enthusiasm.

I was told I had a very good business sense. I was very good with customers and came up with good ideas for them.

I developed a strong relationship with the chief financial officer of Pan Am’s express division because I was involved in its bankruptcy proceedings. When he had an opportunity to start up a business in the District called Atlantic Coast Airlines, he thought of me and gave me a call. I got hired as a controller.

I saw it as a real big step up. I never wanted to go down the public accounting path anyway.

I was 27 years old, so I know I needed to walk the walk and talk the talk. I ran everything financial from planning and analysis to the accounting. The airline industry is an operationally intensive business. We flew to more than 70 cities and had 100 airplanes, 1,500 employees and five unions. It was very complicated but very interesting.

Three months after joining the company, we bought assets of Air Wisconsin and then took the business public.

That’s the nature of the businesses I’ve been involved in. I come in and build companies.

I wake up thinking not just how to do my job really well. That’s my standard. I wake up thinking how to grow a company.

I’ve spent the last five years deeply enmeshed in the data analytics world.

When I heard about Savi Technology, I thought it was a great opportunity. I look forward to continue my passion in working with great people to build a great business.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

Brian Daum

Position: Chief financial officer at Savi Technology, a logistics and supply-chain-solutions company in Alexandria.

Career highlights: Chief financial officer, Centrifuge Systems; chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Arc Second; chief financial officer, Sandbox.com; chief financial officer, Multimedia Medical Systems; corporate controller, Atlantic Coast Airlines; audit supervisor, Ernst & Young

Age: 46

Education: BS, accounting, Lehigh University.

Personal: Lives in Reston with wife and two children.

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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