Wharton CPD Propels Finance Leader to New Heights
R. Adam Lee has come a long way since starting Wharton’s Certificate of Professional Development (CPD) program four years ago. In that time, he has moved from senior finance analyst at defense and commercial space systems contractor L-3 Communication Systems-West, to supervisor, to department manager, and then to director of Indirect and Functional Cost Management.
“Wharton was the best choice for my career goals — it’s already building the foundation for me to advance and hopefully realize my ambition to lead a company as CFO one day,” says Lee, who earned his CPD designation in early 2014 after completing his fourth program. He has taken High-Potential Leaders: Accelerating Your Impact, Integrating Finance and Strategy for Value Creation, Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager, and Strategic Alliances: Creating Growth Opportunities.
The finance leader, who does not consider himself a typical “accountant,” already had accounting and MBA degrees when he decided to continue his education. He considered several executive education programs, including those at Stanford and Harvard, before choosing Wharton.
“After each program at Wharton, I’ve gained more responsibility, from managing three people to managing 20, with budget accountability for a division with over 3,500 people,” says Lee, who credits Wharton with enhancing his professional presence and leadership skills. “Interacting with senior executives at Wharton increased my confidence and enabled enhanced communication with my own company’s president and senior leaders.”
High-Potential Leaders helped Lee to discover his strengths and work on his weaknesses as a leader. He learned that he excels at identifying areas of concern and starting projects to address the issue. “Assembling the right team members, identifying where there are problems, and putting a plan in place to resolve the issue, are my strengths. I found I am not the best at following up to see if the team is on track because I have identified another issue and I want to start addressing the new problem. What I learned is not everybody sees things the way I do — not everyone has the same level of drive or urgency. To get full team unity, I need to lead in different ways with different people.”
Lee credits Strategic Alliances, more than any other Wharton program, with enabling him to build cross-functional relationships that are crucial to his cost-management role. He also reaped significant benefits from Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager. “That program helped me connect with my team and communicate financial information in a more understandable way,” adds Lee, noting that it isn’t always easy to relay that information to large groups of employees from different functions of an organization. “I now can have more productive conversations about how my group’s work affects the total division and corporate reporting,” he says.
In addition, linking corporate reporting to what Lee does at the division level from a cost and budget perspective has expanded his knowledge base — insight that he believes will enable him “to get to the next level of executive leadership.”
Lee considers Wharton’s staff and faculty to be “top notch” — able to “answer any question meaningfully on the fly. All the programs provided a high level of interaction with key decision makers across a wide range of industries. Based on the learning and the connections the programs made possible, I know my relationship with Wharton will be ongoing,” he says.