As part of our regular Staff Profile Series, we recently interviewed Sarah Pemberton, Chief Financial Officer at MPW Industrial Services and a veteran in her field. Sarah has been with MPW for more than 15 years, maintaining the financial health and vision for the company.
Where did you get your start?
I started at Deloitte & Touche in their audit practice. I was there for about six years serving in various roles – it was definitely a great learning experience, especially as a young professional.
Were you always interested in finance?
I’ve been good at math my whole life – I’m a pretty analytical person. So, when I went to college I thought accounting might be my thing. You never know how your life will play out when you select a major at such a young age, but I’m one of the lucky ones who found their path right from the beginning.
Why did you make the switch to MPW?
A lot of people that go into public accounting end up leaving at some point. At the time, we had lost our biggest client to a merger, but also gained a client in our Memphis office, so I was asked to relocate to take on the new account. It forced me to really think about my long-term career path – eventually I decided to leave my position and started looking for new opportunities.
When I worked for Deloitte, most of my clients were publicly traded, so when I started my search, I was looking for similar companies. Unfortunately, most publicly traded companies are very big and when I started interviewing I quickly figured out that I was going to be a small fish in a big pond and wasn’t sure where to go next. Then, one day, I was actually leaving an interview at another company and got a call from a recruiter who told me about a Director of Corporate Accounting position with MPW Industrial Services and from the description, they sounded like a fit. I literally turned around on the highway, drove out to Hebron and interviewed on the spot – just like that I got the job.
Can you tell me a little bit about the roles you play at MPW?
Everything that involves finance. I have five direct reports in the finance area and they have reports underneath them – so the Corporate Controller, operational controllers, tax function, and credit and collections all report to me. I also have responsibilities for Procurement and IT – those areas are obviously not my background, so we have several experienced individuals who manage that function under my direction.
I also do a lot of project work related to efficiency or improvement processes, many times with the rest of the executive team. We’re very focused on automation and finding ways to streamline efforts as much as possible.
How do you see the company progressing in the years to come?
I see us in a great position. I’ve been here several years and I feel very secure with the financial health of the company. I also think that we have a really strong management team – we work well together and collaborate often. In fact, we just finished up some longer-term planning that spans beyond a year. So, in that plan, we’re forecasting out three-plus years in the future to see what MPW will look like down the line – what will our finances look like? What will our goals be? It will be exciting to see it all take shape.
What do you like to do outside work?
Well, I’m a mom of two, so my kids take up a lot of my “outside work” time. They are ages 5 and 8 right now, so their activities keep me on the run. I also love to cook and bake, but don’t get to often enough!
Why would someone want to work at MPW?
A few things, really. The people are wonderful – everyone who works for this company has a great attitude about their job. They’re not just in it for a paycheck – they do everything they can to make the company better. I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities to grow into the role I have, and I think every member of the company would agree that if you believe in the vision, and work hard, there are endless possibilities for growth here.
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