Frank Aloise has some stories to tell! As the CFO of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) for 16 years, having served as the board chair of NBOA, and as the board chair of PAISBOA, he has seen the ups and downs of school leadership.
In my interview Frank shares his wisdom and insights about cultivating cohesiveness in the team, advice that he wishes he had known years ago, along with some tips for improving as a consultative business officer (CBO). As you will see, Frank is an outstanding example of a CBO, especially in light of his servant leadership attitude, how he prioritizes his time, his collaborative spirit, and in his expert ability to build trust and engagement. Below I've summarized the key points from our dialogue.Interview with Frank Aloise:
Key Points from Frank Aloise, A Consultative Business Officer
* Change is inevitable, and becomes even more challenging during the transition to a new chief administrator. Frank has intentionally transitioned the role of CFO from the traditional accountant/controller to becoming a strategic partner with the head and the board. Being able to look at the big picture is critical to this relationship, working closely with the other administrators to sustain the vision.
* Cohesiveness has been achieved through partnership with the HR Director and the CIO to build momentum and unity. Both are thought leaders and allies in learning. We read books and meet together, along with other administrators at SCH, to further the mission and collaborate.
* Hiring the right people is absolutely critical. Recommended book: The Best Places to Work (by Ron Friedman). Relationships are important to bring ideas and build cohesiveness. At SCH they are trying to create a workplace where their people have a best friend. With a new head starting in July, they have established the groundwork for a smooth transition.
* "When I look back at the last 20 years, I transitioned from being the bean counter and budget-watcher who builds a bunch of spreadsheets to sitting at the table with the other school leaders thinking about the big picture, strategic relationships." That strategic level of thinking and connection is the difference that being a CBO makes.
* Frank has gone outside his own comfort zone to collect outside data and combined it with the school's internal data to connect the dots and challenge assumptions. He tries to provide resources that enable the board to focus on the strategic issues where the school really needs them. That big picture thinking has been a huge asset for the board.
* His best suggestion for a business officer: Join a network of other business officers (e.g., NBOA and/or a local association) so you can learn from them and lean on them as a mastermind group. There's someone else out there who knows how to solve the problem(s) you're facing.
* Best advice to younger Frank: GET OUT OF THE OFFICE! Build relationships across the campus. Have lunch with the faculty. You must have their trust, which is much easier when they know you as a person rather than just the budget watchdog.