Lead(H)er Profile - Amy Wagner, Chief Financial Officer at CreateMe banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Amy Wagner, Chief Financial Officer at CreateMe

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Amy Wagner, Chief Financial Officer at CreateMe

Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and was definitely a free spirit - picture a super girlie-looking total tomboy that got straight A’s but also was the first person disrupting the entire class during an exam because she was bored.  

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I graduated with a degree in Environmental Science & Public Policy and a citation in Spanish which essentially means I voluntarily took all of the pre-med classes (and loved them) and knew I wanted to work in a career or company that had sustainability as a core mission and value.  From college, I went into investment banking to gain a practical skill set in finance and accounting that I could then apply in my target field.

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

I think the first most critical decision in my career was deciding to enter into investment banking.  As a profession, investment banking teaches financial modelling and valuation, which are fundamental to understanding decision-making in business.  Even more critical, was selecting Citigroup and then, within Citigroup, my industry group.  As a major global market leader, Citigroup attracted some of the biggest and most complex deals.  Within Citigroup, I found two mentors that worked on a number of these deals and also had a management style that empowered me to play a big role with a lot of autonomy, without which, I would have never learned everything I did at that job.  They also taught me how to be a manager and mentor, which has been invaluable in my career.

The second most critical decision in my career was deciding that I was enough on my own and that I could not only found but also successfully grow and exit my own start up.  Based on everything I learned in investment banking, and a natural ability to think critically about why and how things should be done, I developed a thesis for how my business would outgrow and “win” against my competitors.  I then implemented and tested different programs to achieve my main goals, always starting with “why” and “what could be” and not with what currently was there.  In doing this, I found my superpower - connecting all of the disparate data points to formulate an efficient and successful strategy to achieve a goal.  

The rest is history.  Both moments and experiences have gone on to shape my career.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

My current position is Chief Financial Officer of CreateMe.  As the CFO, I am a strategic partner to the entire executive management team and a sounding board for ideas and critical analysis.  More granularly, I oversee all of the accounting, finance, FP&A, corporate development, M&A, and global procurement functions.

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

It was always my goal to work with really smart people who are also really good people at a company that positively contributes to society.  CreateMe is just that - a team of exceptional people working to make the fashion industry more sustainable and equitable. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

Take the time to completely understand everything you are doing.  Don’t take anything for granted and always get to “why” you are doing something a certain way.  What you will often find is that there are inherent assumptions baked into every task and not all of those assumptions hold true for your company.  By critically thinking about each task, you will not only be able to connect the dots better between all of the disparate things you are doing, you will also be able to identify efficiencies and learn on the job.

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

Attention to detail, critical thinking, deep understanding of various disciplines (finance, accounting, tax, law, etc.), and patience.  One of the most critical skills I have developed in my career is the ability to take a breath, keep my calm, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  There have been so many times that one simple skill has made a world of difference.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of my work is that there is a new challenge every day.  It keeps work interesting and affords me the ability to learn and grow.  The only aspect that can be challenging in my role is when information is too siloed because it could lead to inefficient business outcomes.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

My proudest moment in my professional career was at the conclusion of my first M&A deal.  We had just secured a huge valuation for the two founders, way more than either had thought they could sell for, and one of the founders said to me, “If only we had found you sooner.  We could have been 5x as big.  You were the missing link.”  I was only 22 at the time so it wasn’t my network of buyers or knowledge of M&A that had impressed him.  It was the way I broke down his business drivers and marketed it, the way I cultivated relationships with each team member of his company and the buyers to get the deal completed, it was the intangibles that he felt I brought to the table that leveled up the perception of his company.  The confidence gained from that moment allowed me to build on those skills and get better professionally.

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I am a firm believer in literacy, medical research, and animal rights and have worked with several organizations, including serving on the Board of Reading Partners while I still lived in NYC and serving as a foster parent for dogs for years before adopting my own.


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have four kids, three dogs, and an amazing husband as well as a ton of family that lives near by so I enjoy anything active and/or with family - running, water balloon fights, swimming, barbeques, you name it.

How do you manage stress?

My best stress relievers are running or snuggling with my kids.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day

Two - but I use espresso-quality coffee like most people use just traditional coffee so I’m not sure what that would be in terms of caffeine intake.

What's one of your favorite places in the Boston/New York area?

I love both cities a ton.  It’s odd but, my favorite places in both are the walking/running paths along the rivers (the Charles and the Hudson).  It’s a nice mix of the city and the suburb that I grew up in.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I largely read via Audible on my way into the office since finding the time to sit with a book tends to escape me during my daily routine.  I loved “Song of Achilles” and “Circe” and just started Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”.  I tend to fluctuate between fiction and nonfiction/historical books depending on my mood on the day when I start a book.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Whatever job you do, be excellent at it.  Take full responsibility and ownership of what you are doing and it will open countless doors for you.

About the

From customization to automation. We are creating a new age of apparel manufacturing.

The clothing industry today still relies on 19th century production methods. We believe it’s time for change.

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