Lyn Bradbury is a CFO at Ingram Micro Mobility. She is in the prime of her career. We met on a sunny Friday amidst the smell of bagels and coffee at Panera. She has an infectious smile and energy level that set the stage for a great conversation.
KB: Lyn, thank you for this.
LB: My pleasure!
KB: There’s always interest in the journey to successful CFO. You’ve had an amazing career thus far. How have
you accomplished so much, so quickly?
LB: I had a great foundation growing up. We lived on a farm in a small town in Southern Illinois. My Dad is a
Farmer with a Bachelors and Master’s Degree. We raised 6,000 hogs and farmed 1,000 acres a year. He taught
my sister and I the value of hard work. I’ve never worked harder for anyone in my life. He paid us $3 an hour – we
punched an actual time clock – and we had to save half of what we earned. When my Sister or I wanted new
clothes or a new purse, we bought them with our own money. My dad taught us that effort comes before reward.
Growing up, we had season football tickets at the University of Illinois (my Dad’s alma mater). Illinois also had the
top undergraduate accounting program in the nation. So when it came to selecting a college, Illinois was the
natural choice for me.
My first job was in McDonnell Douglas’ (Boeing) finance rotational program. It was a great opportunity for me to try
a number of different things to figure out what I enjoyed. After about a year and a half, I decided to pursue my
MBA full-time. I was just one semester in, when an opportunity came my way to join Marathon Petroleum, and I
took it. So, I was newly married, a first time home owner, working on the family farm, a full-time accountant at
Marathon and trying to get my master’s degree completed before we started a family. It was a busy time in my
KB: You had a great run at Marathon.
LB: I did. I moved four times in fourteen years for career progression. That was both exciting and challenging for
KB: Your husband must be awesome.
LB: He is! I have no bigger fan than my Husband. He’s my rock. For several years, we were managing two
careers. Eventually, my Husband began playing a larger role raising our two girls, and that’s been amazing for
them…and me! He’s such a great support system for all of us.
KB: What are a couple of the more significant things you can share about your days at Marathon?
LB: The sky’s the limit with a large company. It’s up to you to figure out what you want, and then decide if you’re
willing to do what it takes to get there. For example, when someone completes their MBA, no one comes to them
and says, “Hey you got your Master’s degree, so here’s a raise.” I knew that after completing my MBA, I was more
valuable in the marketplace. But I wasn’t sure how much. So I tested the market. I got two offers for 50% more
than I was currently making.
KB: So what did you do?
LB: I went to my Controller and gave him the opportunity to keep me, letting him know about my other offers. I
actually went to my Assistant Controller first to get some advice on how to approach the Controller. He told me
I was crazy and that a 50% raise would never happen, and I ought to just take one of the other job offers. I asked
anyway. It’s about asking for what you want. You need to be bold enough to do that, yet humble in your
KB: What happened?
LB: The request went all the way to the President of Marathon Petroleum…umpteen levels above me. I got the
50% raise and a new position. My Dad taught me to let other people do the bragging for you. But if you sit around
and wait for others to recognize you, it may not happen. The days of “work hard and you’ll be noticed” are gone.
Sometimes you have to speak up. I wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity if I hadn’t asked for it. I did my
homework, and I was willing to move to a different company in a different city to get what I wanted. But
Marathon wanted to invest in me…and I was truly grateful for that.
KB: What else big did you take away from Marathon?
LB: I had seven positions in fourteen years. But I only applied for one of those jobs. For all the others, I was
sought out. I believe that speaks to both my capabilities and the network I created within the company. Who
knows you and who is thinking about you is important. You want your name to be the first on the list when a new
opportunity becomes available.
KB: You’re living in Houston, you’ve got a huge job with Marathon, and you decide to leave the company and
move to Indianapolis.
LB: My Grandmother got very ill, and it made me re-evaluate the importance of proximity to family. So we
moved back to the Midwest. The CountryMark role was one where I could be close to family and leverage all
my oil industry experience. It also allowed me to round out my skillset in a smaller organization, which equipped
me to become the CFO at Wood-Mizer.
KB: How’d you get the Ingram job?
LB: I used my network. I asked a professional colleague of mine for an introduction to Bob Laikin, the founder of
BrightPoint, which had been acquired by Ingram. I was looking to grab a cup of coffee or lunch, and instead, I
ended up with an interview with the CEO for a newly created CFO role. I interviewed with 11 different people over
the course of two months to get the job.
KB: Once again, this came from asking for something.
LB: Yes. You have to be bold; you have to have courage. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of others, and they
might not be on the same timeline as you.
KB: What do you love about your job now?
LB: The opportunity to make a difference; to have an influence on people. I lead a team of approximately 100
people and it’s the biggest honor of my life. I am also continuously learning. The technology industry was new
for me. I came to Ingram to work alongside other thought leaders. It’s been a great growth opportunity for me.
KB: You’re passionate about the people. How has it affected the culture at Ingram?
LB: They all see that I am very driven and focused on people. They see that I’m authentic. You have to be true
to yourself, or people don’t know what to expect. I want people to think of finance as the first person they need
to call. Finance now has a seat at the table for pricing and winning new business. We’re not back office. We’re
a resource. Our job is to add insight; not just provide data.
KB: What do you look for when hiring?
LB: I look for fit first. Someone who is open-minded; a change agent. Someone who is a lifelong learner; who
has a natural curiosity. Someone who wants to understand the why. Are they driven to continuous
improvement? If the fit is there, I can teach you anything.
KB: Couldn’t agree more. Skillsets are easy. Fit is harder. How do you interview for it?
LB: I use behavior-based interviews. We identify key competencies, then develop behavioral
interview questions to test for those competencies.
KB: How about developing people?
LB: The greatest honor we have as leaders is the opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives. One of the
first things I did at Ingram was create training opportunities for my team in three areas: Technical (e.g. Excel,
Access,), Soft Skills (e.g. leadership, change management, conflict resolution) and Business Acumen
(understanding what we do). People were hungry for it. Now the finance department is providing training for
non-finance employees at Ingram.
KB: That’s awesome; what other things have you implemented at Ingram?
LB: To give people insights into career development, we created a job description repository for all our positions.
People often don’t know what others do. Now, you can look up a person and their job to see what they do. The
goal is to help people chart out their career path – not wait for a job posting. You can aspire to a positon and have
a conversation with your supervisor to find out how to get here. It’s about empowering people to own their own
KB: How do you define excellence?
LB: Being the best you can be. I used to say, “I am in pursuit of perfection”. I’m actually a recovering
perfectionist. Now I say, “I’m in pursuit of excellence”. My job is to ensure people have the opportunity to obtain
the skills they need and equip them with the right resources to perform at their best. And that’s what I ask of
people: Give me your best.
KB: What quote do think belongs on a billboard?
LB: It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed. – Harvey Firestone
KB: What advice would you give your younger self?
LB: By the nature of the question, it implies that I would give my younger self advice to change the trajectory of
my life in some way. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. The challenges I’ve faced and the
lessons I’ve learned have helped shape me into the person I am today.
KB: Lyn, this was awesome, thank you.
LB: Thanks for the opportunity to be part of your CFO Spotlight.