When Mark Piazza is presented with
financial data, he does not focus exclusively on the numbers.
Instead, he looks for the story behind the numbers to paint a full
picture before making any decision.
"People don't think a CFO needs a
creative skill-set," Piazza remarked, noting that indeed his
position calls for a great deal of imagination. One might even say
MediaCom North America's CFO has discovered the holy grail of
financial management: the ability to blend left-brain (analytical)
and right-brain (intuitive) talents to ensure that budgets are
spent on priorities and that dollars are matched with real key
A proud native New Yorker, Piazza grew
up knowing he wanted to be a leader. "As a child, I loved
competition," he said. "I enjoyed taking risks and the challenge
associated with being told I couldn't do something." Early on in
his career, Piazza set his sights on a CFO role; he systematically
worked toward achieving his goal, taking on various financial
management, strategic planning and operational positions in the
CPG, retail, marketing and advertising sectors. He also worked as a
general manager for two years, a role which exposed him to all
aspects of business management and solidified his overall
When Piazza stepped into his current
CFO role five years ago, it was a goal accomplished, paving the way
for new ones, and a natural, mutual fit.
Piazza enjoys the various
responsibilities that come with his job. "We [the Finance Group]
are risk, procurement, financial and operational. No matter what
you're talking about, all roads lead to finance," Piazza said.
"That's why I love the role, it's so diverse."
Finance is at the centre of things in
another way, too: in collaborating with clients and agency
management to develop compensation models that give the agency some
skin in the game. "I work with some of the most amazing and
talented people in the industry on a daily basis," he said.
Piazza interacts with the executive
leadership team often and also manages seven direct reports. He
knows his co-workers well - personally due to his own easygoing
style and professionally due to MediaCom's 360° Performance Review
process. This intensive evaluation and multi-assessment procedure
helps create an open, collaborative and respectful work
"There's nowhere to hide and it's a
humbling process," Piazza said, "but in the end you get honesty and
Not that Piazza is the type of leader
who waits to give or receive feedback. Being a CFO is a
high-pressure job, and he relies on his team to get him answers
"quicker, better, faster." So when it comes to managing his people,
Piazza believes in praising staffers when they do well and giving
them timely, constructive feedback when they run into
Piazza puts the need to nurture strong
relationships in a corporate environment simply: "I'm only as good
as my people."
This article was first published in Forefront Magazine, January 6, 2013.