Meet Lucy Rutishauser, Sinclair's "Chief Financial Everything"

By Mary Ellen Holden WomenAdvancing Archives

Breaking through the glass ceilings of treasury, finance and broadcast television is no small feat for any woman -- but Lucy Rutishauser, Senior Vice President of Corporate Finance and Treasurer of Sinclair Broadcast Group has accomplished that and more.  Just last week, it was announced that effective January 1, 2017, Lucy will be promoted to Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. In this capacity, she will partner with President and CEO Christopher Ripley to ensure that Sinclair is positioned to lead the industry into the next gen broadcast era. Her upcoming promotion highlights the increased importance of financial experts in navigating the media ecosystem of tomorrow. Below Lucy describes how she created her own path to join and guide this broadcast behemoth and encourage young women to do the same.

Mary Ellen Holden:  Why finance?

Lucy Rutishauser:  I have always been interested in economics and finance.  I earned my MBA from the University of Baltimore and was lucky enough to have an economics professor recommend me for a Junior Treasury Analyst role at Black & Decker, which I landed in 1988.  Almost thirty years later, after several pivots in my career, all within treasury, I was just promoted to CFO, or as we like to call it, CFE -- Chief Financial Everything!

Mary Ellen:  Why did you choose Sinclair Broadcast Group?

Lucy:  In 1998, with my employer [at the time] moving and having a young family, I was looking for a company that I could feel good about.  I investigated prospects in the region and identified Sinclair as a company with growth opportunities and a good cultural fit.  I literally "cold called" Sinclair and suggested that they needed to hire someone like me.  They called me back and offered me the position of Assistant Treasurer which was a new role created for me.

Mary Ellen:  How do you achieve a work/life balance?

Lucy:  From the start, Sinclair offered work/life balance.  I worked hard but they also made the effort to accommodate my needs. It helped that I had a good support system in place and that I am very good at time management.

Mary Ellen:  With media in flux how do you steer Sinclair's success?

Lucy:  Sinclair is an industry leader with a strong vision.  My role is to make sure that the financial areas remain agile to support the company's growth strategy and to identify potential pitfalls. The analysis and insights we provide inform key business decisions.

Mary Ellen:  What are the challenges of being one of two female corporate officers? 

Lucy:  That is a question that I am frequently asked. While on paper it appears that way, when you review the organizational structure you will see that we have many women heading departments or in the No. 2 spot.  While these female leaders do not appear on public documents, they are instrumental to the success of Sinclair.  Women are in the flow and making an impact.  All our people are terrific.

Mary Ellen:  What makes you well suited for this new role?

Lucy:   My success is based on my contributions, abilities and the confidence that others have in me.  I believe what separates leaders is that they draw out the passion to excel in others and that they know how to build and rely on strong teams. I cannot be a specialist in everything.  With the help of my team I am able to grow and focus on the big picture and help inform Sinclair's business decisions.

Mary Ellen:  How important is mentorship? 

Lucy:   Mentorship has always been important to me and my career. The Assistant Treasurer at Black & Decker was my first manager and mentor.  She was tough and had high expectations but helped me to navigate the company and ultimately my career. I do my best to mentor as many people as possible. I encourage them to get involved, ask questions, challenge the status quo and to never stop learning.  I maintain an open-door policy and encourage people to stop by when they have questions or when they are seeking guidance about the company or their career.

Mary Ellen:  What is the next frontier for you and your contemporaries?

Lucy:  Financial roles are expanding. This gives the financial team the ability to insert themselves into corporate initiatives across the board.  As a public company, our involvement goes beyond ROI as we provide insight and guidance into rules and regulations, workflow analysis, trending and more.

Mary Ellen:  What advice do you have for younger women?

Lucy:  Broadly speaking it's not about just letting your work speak for you. You need to be your own advocate by marketing yourself internally, speaking up with ideas and getting involved. When I look back on my career, I was fortunate that Sinclair allowed me to create my own opportunity back in 1998.

Mary Ellen:   Is there an untapped opportunity for women in broadcast television?

Lucy:  The big opportunity for younger women is ATSC 3.0 which is the next gen broadcast platform; it is destined to transform the industry. Right now, broadcast engineers are mostly male; this will change.  Women in high school stem and college consumer science programs can help reshape the field. I wish them the courage to engage in this unchartered frontier as it will present them with a multitude of opportunities as the industry continues to evolve.

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