Andy Zahn is an Illinois native, but Tampa is where he and his family have put down roots. Whether it’s working for a Big 4 accounting firm and traveling around the world to assist in complex litigation cases and claims, or working alongside a dynamic entrepreneurial team at a private company, Zahn isn’t afraid to jump into a high-energy, fast-paced working environment. He joined the Franklin Street team as CFO earlier this year, where he utilizes his 20 years of financial experience, his business acumen and analytical mind to help execute the company’s long-term financial goals and develop strategies that yield results.
Tell us about yourself, both personally and professionally. I’m a native of Calumet City, Illinois, born and raised on the south side of Chicago in the same house my mother grew up in. I played just about every sport I could during my formative years, but really developed a passion for golf, largely based on playing and being coached by my father. I then attended school at Indiana University and studied accounting because I thought it gave me the best opportunity to put my analytical mind to work in the business world.
After moving back to Chicago after college, a miserable Chicago winter started to settle in. My fiancée at the time (and now wife) and I decided it was time to move to a warmer climate and after studying all the cities in the Southeast, we eventually selected Tampa for its proximity to her family, the growth the city was experiencing and its abundance of palm trees.
I was lucky enough to find a job with a Tampa consulting firm, Tunstall Consulting, where I worked closely with the owner and my mentor, Gordon Tunstall, who taught me the ins and outs of developing strategies for high-growth companies and how to help these organizations capitalize their balance sheets in order to execute on these concepts. I worked with Gordon for about 10 years when I was tapped on a shoulder by a friend of mine, John Wilson, who founded and was the driving force behind a fast-paced business services company based in Tampa. He was looking for a CFO. That was my first foray into working within a private company, and in my time there, I helped develop private equity financing that allowed the company to grow substantially, making investments and serving businesses across the world. Ultimately, we grew the workforce by more than 10 times over a seven-year period.
After a brief stint in the restaurant industry working with Paul Avery, another icon of the Tampa business and philanthropic community, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to get back into the professional services industry with another great entrepreneurial team here at Franklin Street, led by another great entrepreneur, Andrew Wright.
What has stood out to you the most in your role as CFO at Franklin Street since beginning work there? The culture is really-well-defined and there is a great balance between the confidence and humility needed to be successful in any line of business. I am also really impressed with the thoughtfulness that has gone into the development of the strategy and organizational structure. We’ve really got some clear-cut advantages vs. the competition for our employees and clients.
How do you achieve objectives in a fast-paced environment? I stay organized using a combination of pen and paper and Microsoft’s suite of tools. I’m always prioritizing and re-prioritizing tasks to ensure I’m clear on deadlines, working backward to know what I need to do today. There is never a shortage of things to do in a growing company, and you need to be able to communicate with your team(s) to be impactful.