The National Football League was born in the early years of the 20th century. But 100 years later, the Kansas City Chiefs are using 2020 strategies to meet business goals and thrill their fans. The Chiefs head to the Super Bowl with a winning finance team behind them.
As the Chiefs’ CFO, Dan Crumb, CPA, CGMA, oversees finance, IT & strategy and analytics. Although his team is not on the field, the group touches football on all sides. Its goal is ensure that there is no downtime for the team. It’s up to them to be sure the football side of the operation has all the planning and preparation needed to focus on what they do best.
Having a great team is not only a point of pride, but it’s also critical to our business. “One of the really important elements of being a good management accountant is looking at our products and services and asking, ‘What can we do to make it the best?’ ” Crumb says. “We are fighting for our fans’ discretionary dollars, so we have to give them a reason to come to the stadium. That means first that we want to provide a strong product on the field — a good team that performs well. We also want to offer a great fan experience. We want it to be memorable so that they’ll come back.”
His group does that, in part, by identifying and implementing needed infrastructure and technology upgrades. In the last year, for example, the team made attention-grabbing upgrades to the iconic Arrowhead Stadium scoreboard, created a Drum Deck to give a new home to a beloved tradition and added flashy, wider new seats in the upper deck. Less visible are the necessary waterproofing in the upper deck and advanced security measures. “Risk management is a central challenge for us, so we spend a lot of time on it,” Crumb said. “We have 65,000 to 70,000 people in the stadium on game days and 19,000 to 20,000 cars in the parking lots. We want to mitigate any risks to them as much as possible, so we look at procedures and processes to make sure that we do all in our power to eliminate risk.”
To meet the goals for the team and its fans, Crumb’s group wants to be the best finance team in the league. To do that, Crumb works to get the right people and systems and offers his people constant training to keep them up to date. The group also regularly benchmarks its status against other teams, other sports leagues and other companies. “We want to learn about the best practices being used not only in the league but also in a variety of other kinds of organizations,” he says.
The first Super Bowl that Crumb can remember watching was Super Bowl IV, held in his hometown of New Orleans between the Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings. Little did he know that many years later he would be the Chiefs’ CFO. Not too surprisingly, one of the biggest lessons he has learned is the value of teamwork.
“To work well as a team, you need to focus on the details and get the big picture, and there is so much preparation necessary to get things right,” he said. “I watch the coaches and see how buttoned-down they are in all they do, and that discipline is something I’ve brought into my work. In the end, leadership is about having the trust of your team. If they trust you, they know that where you lead is going to be the right path.”
Developing a winning finance team
The AICPA, powered by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, has a breadth of resources to help you and your team sharpen your skills for the future. Check out:
FM Magazine – Access the latest news and information for finance professionals to help you stay ahead.
CGMA Competency Framework – Use this free framework to guide your team’s professional competency development.
CGMA Finance Leadership Program – Help your finance team hone important business, communication and digital skills through an on-demand, personalized learning journey.
Finance Transformation certificates – Learn how the finance function is evolving and the new skills and capabilities your staff will need to develop to meet the new demands of business.