The best part about leading a finance team is getting involved in every department, according to Dan Crumb, CFO at NFL team Kansas City Chiefs.
‘Finance ties it all together,’ says Dan. ‘You get to see everything – how a company operates, all the things that go into the operation, all the decisions are manifested in those financial statements and reports, so you get a good view.
‘You can have a huge impact on the organisation, because not only do you report the results, but you also look at how you can shape the results.’
Finance shapes the future
Shaping the future of an organisation is what drives Dan’s passion and love for finance.
‘For me, I always really wanted to get into corporate finance, I wanted to work for a corporation,’ says Dan, who has spent half of his career following this corporate path before moving to sports finance.
‘I never really thought about being in the sports business because back when I was in College I didn’t know how people got into it. But I had my mind set that I was going to be in finance. I loved finance – the goal for myself was to become a CFO,’ adds Dan.
But he wouldn’t change his career journey, as Dan believes his experience in corporate finance set him up for the rest of his career.
‘The exposure I had on the corporate side to modelling and other tools was good for me to develop a base, so by the time I got into professional sports I already had the discipline and I was able to take that and leverage it and bring it into my role here’.
Finding the NFL
This corporate career started after grad school, when Dan went to work for KPMG. He subsequently moved to various private industry jobs in a number of different industries including gaming, convenience stores, bottled water, software and fuel distribution.
But in 2007, he moved to basketball team the New Orleans Hornets.
‘I was born and raised in the New Orleans area, so all of my roles up until that point had been in the area,’ says Dan.
‘But then the Kansas City Chiefs job became available and they went on a nationwide search. I was fortunate enough to be included in that search and blessed to receive an offer to become their CFO. I’ve now been there for 11 years and I’m in my twelfth season.’
Driving data and intelligent automation
Since coming to the Chiefs, Dan has automated processes and enhanced data-driven decisions across the business.
‘Our business planning process was previously very paper intensive and manual, so I got with our IT department and programmers and gave them a vision of what our business planning system should look like. They developed a system in SharePoint which is fully electronic – you can upload all budgets, optics, proposals, charts.
‘We also made a strong effort towards going to an electronic data interchange for payables and cash payments and we took our stadium cashless.’
The finance team has also ‘instilled’ a more data-driven approach to decisions throughout the business, including creating a new data warehouse and CRM systems to better capture the information of fans and companies they do business with.
Reaching higher efficiency
This move has helped drive strategy and efficiencies within the business.
‘We had a couple of players, for instance, with very high guaranteed payments in their contracts,’ says Dan.
‘We had to look at do we take out a disability insurance policy on these players because they had such high guarantees. We used a very sound way to pull this information together, looking at the players, comparable players, comparable positions, time in the leagues, and looked at what their injury percentage was.
‘Through pulling that data and looking at the cost of the policies, we determined that the data didn’t support us purchasing these policies.’
Adapting and evolving finance
Ultimately, Dan and his team want to create the best team possible, which he believes means continuously adapting and evolving alongside technology.
‘I want to give our football team the opportunity to do their job as best as possible,’ he says.
‘One of my passions is just wanting to improve and learn and get better. To do that you need to understand that change is here, it’s going to be constant, and you need to have a good system for determining what changes you need to make, and which ones are going to benefit the organisation, because that’s why we’re here. To make sure everything we’re doing is going to put the organisation in a better place.’