U.S. corporate executives are often chastised for sitting on
a lot of cash. But the slow and uneven recovery from the recent
financial crisis and economic downturn has given them good
reason for doing so.
As demand started to weaken across our markets,
weve reduced manufacturing to align with the new
level, says Patrick Ward, CFO of Columbus,
Indianabased Cummins. But that hasnt stopped the
engine manufacturer from making new investments. Growth
is not going to be linear at Cummins, Ward
explains. Were going to go through cycles, and we
need to be flexible in how we execute our strategy.
This is a tricky time period.
Ward is recognized as the best CFO in the Machinery segment
by the buy- and sell-side analysts who voted for
Institutional Investors 2013 All-America
Executive Team, our exclusive ranking of the nations best
CEOs, CFOs and investor relations professionals and teams. And
Cumminss CFO isnt alone in mastering the
crosscurrents of a tricky period.
Even as many executives have decried the lack of clear
economic, tax or regulatory policies in Washington, other
corporate leaders on this years All-America Executive
Team have deftly adjusted to uncertainty unafraid to
strike bold deals, prepared to make painful cost cuts. Through
a year marked by a persistent euro zone crisis and increasingly
volatile growth in emerging markets, along with the fiscal
clouds hanging over Washington, these executives
navigate powerful and often conflicting business
and economic forces. They not only prevail, they prosper.
Weve had to be very prudent, says Stacy
Smith, CFO of Intel Corp. But, he adds, weve
also had to maintain the courage of our convictions and
continue to make investments, even in the midst of a rocky
In fact, he notes, its important to recognize that
uncertain climates can benefit a company that knows how to look
for the unique opportunities such periods can bring. Adapting
to todays often-austere environment means recognizing
that it can offer up not only the best bargains but also plum
chances to pull ahead of the pack.
Paradoxically, uncertainty really opens up
opportunities to distance yourself from your competitors,
says Smith, the best CFO in Semiconductors according to the buy
side. When we invest in our factories and extend our
leadership over the rest of the industry, theres an
advantage in that. When we make those investments at the same
time that others pull back, we get a much bigger