Winners of the third annual 2022 Controller of the Year Awards have been selected after a nomination period and judging process that began in December 2022. The awards program was available to Corporate Controllers and related titles that have controller responsibilities including CFOs, VPs, Chief Accounting Officers and more. Hundreds of applicants were either self-nominated or nominated by a colleague via a brief and anonymous online survey that requested information on 2022 financial performance, work experience, volunteer or philanthropic activities, and educational background.
All nominations were screened by an algorithm and judged by Controllers Council Board Members. Winners and Runner-Ups are announced for 6 categories based on size and type (Small, Medium, Enterprise, Startup, Not-For-Profit, Government), along with public or private classifications, where applicable.
Learn about the 14 winners below.
National Winner: Christine Gu
I’m currently active CPA with over two decades of years of experience of finance and accounting. Currently, I’m the chief accounting officer at Clarify Health. I made the move November last year.
But previously, I was with Enjoy Technology where I basically took the company public via SPAC, and in that role, I was instrumental in leading the IPO process. Have built out a very high-performance team, global accounting team. It was a great experience for me by taking the company public. Other power roles include VP Finance and Corporate Controller at late-stage startups. I was also a Director of Revenue with large public companies and medium-sized public companies. And prior to that, I also have a year’s public accounting, starting with KPMG, with my earlier career.
Top Keys to Christine’s Success
- Focus: For a lot of college grads or someone who’s junior at their career really need to find the suitable focus for themselves. Once you find it, focus on it.
- Resilience: There’s up and down in everyone’s career. Sometimes it’s bad luck. Especially in the most recent kind of norm, there’s a lot of layoffs within the companies, the corporations. So, don’t be discouraged on that, because there’s always good time and bad time and as long as we are able to bounce it off and believe in yourself, you will do well.
- Curious, ask questions, not just accounting or finance related but also just overall learning, and keep learning as your priority.
Not-For Profit Winner: Francisco Gozalo
My career started where I’m from. I’m from Caracas, Venezuela. I started working in public accounting in Price Waterhouse Cooper as an external auditor. Like many of us, that was the start of my career, while going to college as well. Back in the early 2000s, we moved to Miami due to all the political turmoil in Venezuela and I started to work at the YMCA of Greater Miami. The not-for-profit business was new for me, coming from more corporate auditing perspective, but I work at the Y for almost 12 years. And then after that, through our auditors, I found a position five years ago as the Controller of the Miami Foundation. So, I’ve been working for the foundation for five years now, and the not-for-profit accounting has been my world in terms of accounting and the finance world.
Top Keys to Francisco’s Success
- You need to have to ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Continuous learning
- Hard work: It requires dedication and putting the time and effort to achieve your goals.
Small, Private Winner: Kathleen Bankhead
I am currently the CFO now of a new company called the Cold Storage Construction. I made the move at the end of February. I’ve been in construction going on 13 years. I started with a small subcontractor, moved on to a GC. After that, was a developer, and then back to the subcontractor world. So, I live, eat, and breathe construction accounting. It’s always been my niche, and I really enjoy what I do and who I work with.
Top Keys to Kathleen’s Success
- Having good mentors
- If you don’t know, figure it out, and allow the people around you to support you and elevate you.
Small, Private Runner-Up: Richard Bernier
I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of New England. I also have an MBA and a master’s in applied Sports Psychology. Between all that, I was in the United States Army for several years as an air defense artillery, and I’ve been in accounting and finance now for the 34 years, the first nine of it in retail and then the last 25 in various industries, from manufacturing of beverages to education, to banking, to theme park builders. So, I had been to a lot, but I’m currently in an engineering and consulting firm as the Controller. I reside in Orlando, Florida, and enjoy the sunny weather out here.
Top Keys to Richard’s Success
- Understand the industry itself.
- Understand the company.
Medium, Public Winner: Dinah Chen
I’m currently working as a Business Controller in Atlas Copco Power Technique North America, and we are based in Rock Hill in South Carolina. I joined Atlas Copco since 2011, so that was 11 years ago. It’s my honor that I’ve been able to join this group and taken the different roles. I started with a product company and for six years working in China, Nanjing, and then I moved to Bangkok as a Regional Business Controller based in Bangkok and working for seven entities, spread out over seven countries in the southeast Asian region, before I took the current role since July 2021. I really enjoy the work that I’m doing and a lot of initiatives and a lot of changes happening every day, and I feel sense of achievements daily.
Top Keys to Dinah’s Success
- You have to adapt to different roles and challenges.
Medium, Private Winner: Ashley Griesshammer
I work in private industry now but am a licensed CPA as well as a CMA certified management accountant. I never actually worked in public accounting. Out of college, I did more investment banking type finance for a few years, before moving to a corporate accounting role. I’ve worked in a variety of small and medium-sized businesses, primarily in e-commerce and direct-to-consumer most recently. But I have a bit of a background in manufacturing, distribution, as well as working for a private equity office.
Top Keys to Ashley’s Success
- Constantly questioning things, asking why.
For more great insights and advice from our 2022 winners, watch the full webcast now on-demand here.
Registration for the 2023 Controller of the Year Awards will begin in October of this year at the following link: https://controllerscouncil.org/recognition/
Neil Brown is Executive Director of the Controllers Council, author and a professional association manager. Neil is CEO of the Chief Executives Council, COO of the Operations Council, VP Partnerships for IT Executives Council, and Chief Marketing Officer of Modern Marketing Partners. Neil started his career as a Brand Manager, then promoted to CMO. Brown has provided marketing services to leading Fortune 500 and start-ups, along with board and volunteer roles with non-profits. Neil is a frequent speaker, author and contributor to Advertising Age, Marketing News, Adweek magazine and many others. He is author of two books including “Breakthrough Branding: Brand Naming Tips & Trade Secrets”, and “Tools of the Trade: Modern Marketing for Construction Brands”. Brown earned an MBA from Northern Illinois University, and a BS-Marketing Cum Laude from Southern Illinois University.