Cheryl Duffy-Geiger has joined Monogram Foods as chief financial officer. In this role, Duffy-Geiger will be responsible for developing strategic business plans, partnering with operations and supply chain, building relationships with banking partners and overseeing accounting, among other duties. She joins Monogram from Kellogg Co., where she was chief financial officer for its largest global business unit, U.S. domestic snacks.
Hometown: Port Macquarie, New South Wales , Australia
• Business degree from University of Technology, Sydney Australia.
• 30 years of experience, primarily in fast-moving consumer goods in finance and general management roles.
• Global Experience – Pacific, Asia and North America
• Companies – Wrigley, Mars, Kraft and Kellogg
• Latest role – chief financial officer of U.S. Snacks for Kellogg
What talent do you wish you had? The ability to make the day longer; sleep is overrated. I am an avid reader and would appreciate more time in the day to read at leisure.
Who has had the greatest influence on you and why? That is a tough question because in reality many have influenced who I am today. It may seem cliché, but if I had to choose it would be my parents. Their belief was that both my brother and I could achieve anything, if we focused our energy and worked hard toward our goal. They provided a forum for open debate, intellectual curiosity and equality.
What attracted you to Monogram Foods? At first, I wasn’t. But after researching Monogram’s background, I was frankly astounded at the company’s historical profile, its potential for future growth, and its reputation in the industry. Coming from a FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) background, the trend is towards engaging a broader co-manufacturing network with efficient quality providers such as Monogram; so, strategically for me Monogram is well-placed for growth. Intellectually, the company started checking all the correct boxes. The deal maker, however, was meeting the people at Monogram. Folks displayed such a passion for the company, a belief in its potential, a sense of fun and a commitment to succeed, all of which made it impossible to turn down the opportunity.
One of your responsibilities is developing strategic business plans. Have you identified initial areas you and the company want to address? I am about 45 days into my adventure. I am still learning and observing. So my list is still being developed. What I do know is that at its core Monogram is a food manufacturer focused on providing quality products and cost effectivity to its customers. As we move forward, efficient utilization of our existing manufacturing platforms and the addition of manufacturing capabilities ahead of trends will be key to developing mutually beneficial, long-term customer relationships.
Is Monogram eyeing specific opportunities for growth? Part of Monogram’s culture is to continually identify and evaluate opportunities. You never know what is on the horizon. Those opportunities could be through meeting existing customer needs as well as expanding into new manufacturing operations. So I am leaving that answer very open.
You’re from Australia and have a truly global business background. How does the U.S. business climate differ from other countries where you’ve worked? There is a confidence and a brashness within the U.S. business environment. There is a can-do attitude, a belief in oneself that is a part of the U.S. DNA that you do not see elsewhere. At first glance it can be intimidating, but as you observe and live it you realize how truly empowering and inspiring it can be.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? I am an introvert, so overcoming my shyness and recognizing and managing my level of risk tolerance is really a huge accomplishment for me. When I think about my journey from Port Macquarie (a small town in Australia) to Sydney, Bangalore (India), Chicago, Guangzhou (China), Mexico City, Munich (Germany), Michigan and now Memphis, I have had to push personal boundaries that at times have made me uncomfortable, but as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain.” At the end of the day I am now a U.S. citizen, an honor I am extremely proud of, and married to my best friend, a truly inspiring American man.
What do you most enjoy about your work? I love diversity of thought, the challenge of learning, and the ability to sift through data, looking for the trend. Being a CFO/finance professional is a unique position that allows you to experience and interact across many aspects of the company and its stakeholder base. In essence, finance is a nexus role. You start by spending money (i.e., paying bills) and end with collecting and growing it. It is one role in which you have an end-to-end view and perspective.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Adapt quickly and embrace change. The world is moving at a fast pace. To succeed you need to – at a minimum – move with it, but ideally you want to be able to ride that wave and stay in front.