by Pamela Weinsaft (New York City)
Vanna Krantz grew up on Ottawa, Canada. As a child of Indian parents “who would prefer their children to become doctors, lawyers or accountants,” Krantz said she was “probably brainwashed at very young age that college was extremely important and a formal education was an absolutely necessity.”
Armed with a dual degree in accounting and mathematics from the highly regarded University of Waterloo, Krantz intended to become a chartered accountant. But, she laughed, “Did I know what it meant to be an accountant? Absolutely not. But I knew it was a professional standing and there was value to that.”
Now the Chief Financial Officer for the Media Division of Thomson Reuters, and the moderator of the recent FWA Event, Krantz has settled into her best role yet. “Thomson Reuters is a good fit for me because the Finance organization is highly valued (obviously something important to me), with tremendous talent/leaders. But it is also an organization where people skills matter quite a bit.”
Gaining Experience and Maturity at PwC
Krantz began her career in finance as an auditor in Canada’s Office of the Canada’s Office of the Auditor General. It was, according to Krantz, “a pretty tough role” yet she craved a bigger challenge: “I wanted to work in Toronto.” So she leveraged her technical background to help her land a highly prized job in risk management with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto.
A move to the States followed when Krantz, who married her high school sweetheart, moved with her husband to New York so he could pursue his MBA at Columbia University. After going “dog-gone crazy applying to all the accounting firms in Manhattan,” she landed a job at the New York City office of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Krantz raves about her experience there and about the challenge. “I have only great things to say about [my time] at PwC. The work ethic, the quality of the work and the product that is expected of people in Manhattan is very high. And [socially it was a great work environment] because there were a lot of different people my age with a lot of different backgrounds.”
After five years, the travel “took its toll” and she left PwC to work for the CFO of Asset Management at Merrill Lynch. “The experience I gained at PwC and the maturity I garnered from watching the partners there and all the different CFOs of the various companies really helped me get that position,” she explained. But, when 9-11 caused Merrill Lynch to move its offices to New Jersey, Krantz, then with a one-year-old child at home in Manhattan, said, “it was no longer a good fit.”
Advice: Find a Workplace that Works for You
Through her boss at Merrill Lynch, she landed a job at Morgan Stanley, where she stayed until the birth of her second child. Krantz said that this was a real turning point for her. She decided to take a break from her career. “I think a lot of women struggle when they have their second child in terms of deciding which way going to go. But, I definitely figured out that staying home long term wasn’t for me and I knew that, in order to come back with a serious career, I couldn’t take off any significant length of time.”
She continued, “When I decided to go back to work, it involved soul searching. I knew I wanted to try to achieve the highest level I could. I wasn’t going back to be a financial analyst as I didn’t want to put the numbers together on a spreadsheet. I wanted to sit at the table and communicate messages effectively and make a significant contribution. I wanted to go back to work and really be the best I could be.”
Krantz emphasizes the importance of finding a workplace that fits best with you. “People have to know themselves to know if they’re in the right spot and can succeed. Some [corporate cultures or bosses] bring out the best in you— it is a naturally good chemistry. In other places, that’s not the case.” Fortunately, the chemistry also remained right between Krantz and her former boss from Merrill Lynch. When he joined Credit Suisse as CFO of Asset Management, “I called him to congratulate him, and he asked me if I’d be interested in working there. And so I ended up working for him again, this time as the Global Head of Financial Analysis for Asset Management.”
Krantz readily admits she’s been fortunate to have this sort of mentorship. “Truth be told, there are lots of smart finance people. There is a balance factor that you always have to think about it is how to get people to respect you, to see things their way and also for them to see things your way. You do that through years of practice.” She stresses the importance of learning how to pick up on clues of corporate culture and leadership styles to observe how the difficult decisions get made. “All the softer side of becoming successful and learning how to navigate an organization,” said Krantz.
Moving Up in a Fiercely Competitive Environment
In 2006, when the CFO moved to Zurich, Krantz decided to broaden her horizons from the Asset Management world in which she had worked for so many years. She joined Thomson Financial in 2006 as the SVP of Decision Support. “[I was excited by] the group of people that I would be interacting with on a daily basis— the CFO, the CEO, and the head of strategy. I thought I could raise myself to the next level by interacting with such a strong performing team with diverse backgrounds. And it was about how powerful I thought I could be there in a sense of making an impact.”
Shortly after she joined, Thomson acquired Reuters. When they started putting people in the top finance jobs, she was tapped for her current role as CFO of the Media Division. Krantz is still excited about her future with the conglomerate. “Thomson Reuters has many opportunities – there are so many other lateral moves and higher moves and I look forward to that. As the world changes, I look forward to seeing what opportunities might open up to me.”
Krantz believes that men and women have the same barriers in finance, especially in New York. “I’m not sure there are bigger barriers for women then men. There’s a lot of really smart people – men and women. It is harder to keep moving up, if that is what you want to do, especially in NYC, where competition is fierce. Most people who come here try to practice their field at a higher level.” She added, “There are a many successful women at the top of organizations – you need to reach out to them and observe their behavior to decode how they might have reached their goals. There many roads that can be followed.
Of how she manages her own competing work and home demands, Krantz is matter-of-fact. “You can’t make rules for yourself [about what you will and won’t miss in your kids’ lives] as a woman because very few men have that rule. If you are going to say that you want to be treated equally, you have to act equally.”
Her advice to women who’ve been in the industry a while: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. After about 10-15 years of work experience, you’ve learned a lot and seen quite a bit – you sort of feel like you are at the top of your game. But there is always so much more to learn.”