The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced March 17, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person May 10.
Next is Chief Financial Officer finalist in the Public Company category Becky Harris, CFO of Hexagon US Federal. Here, she talks about what it means to be dedicated, the support systems that helped her through challenging times, why hiring people smarter than you is important and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
First, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my biological family or my work family. This support system helped me through a very tough time when my oldest son was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. The entire Hexagon team, as well as the entire MD Anderson team, supported me, understanding that I was there for him first, while still working full-time. I will forever be grateful for both support systems.
Additionally, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything without the teams I’ve been part of throughout my career. My amazing leadership teams consistently challenged me to be the best version of me. With their support, I challenged myself to be the best leader and financial officer I could be.
Finally, dedication is key to anything in life you want to be “successful” at. Dedication means commitment, honesty and being true to who you are. Dedication also means making a commitment to both your personal and professional life.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
There are two risks that were pivotal to my career ⏤ taking increased responsibility within Hexagon, and making the move from Hexagon to Hexagon US Federal. Although many would say that transforming your role but staying within one organization is not very risky, I would cordially disagree.
Transferring from the familiarity of my focused role as vice president of finance and accounting for the Safety and Infrastructure division to becoming the CFO of the global Hexagon geospatial division had challenges. It was the first time I was truly, 100% responsible for my decisions and actions and their impact on the organization.
This inspired me to widen my lens and engage customers and vendors and understand their experiences. I also interacted with the entire employee base and was challenged to make impactful decisions across the organization.
More recently, moving from commercial Hexagon to Hexagon US Federal was a huge decision. While I had international defense experience, I faced a learning curve with the US government. Everything from contract vehicles to procurement processes differs from how international entities operate. Although I was nervous about undertaking the role, I’ve proven to myself that I can succeed by learning and leveraging those around me.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Listening is the key to great leadership. Diverse perspectives enable you to make the best-informed decision for the organization. Seeing the point of view of employees or other leaders helps you understand how decisions will impact the overall business. It earns the trust from employees to know that they are heard, and that I always listen, regardless of the outcome.
I believe that recognizing your weaknesses is important. Your strengths come through naturally in how you behave, manage and think. Identifying your weaknesses allows you to surround yourself with individuals that excel in these areas. It also provides you with trusted confidants for leveraging ideas and thoughts.
This leads to my last point of hiring well. Don’t be afraid to hire individuals that are smarter than you. They will help your team grow and be successful, while helping you learn, and increasing your chances for success.