Indy CFO Spotlight-Jenny Quinnette
Jenny Quinnette is the new CFO of Viral Launch, an early stage SaaS company in Indianapolis.
She’s been in the CFO chair there for less than two months and she’s having a blast.
KB: Thanks for meeting me.
JQ: My pleasure.
KB: Tell me a little bit about your history.
JQ: I grew up in Indy and graduated from Ben Davis. Dad was a teacher at Tech High School; Mom worked
full-time and went to college part-time to finish her degree, while she was raising me and my brother.
KB: I love that. My mom did the same thing while she was raising me and my sister. Did you work as a kid?
JQ: Oh yes…I babysat, then moved up to working at places like Sirloin Stockade and Target.
KB: Did you know you wanted to study accounting at Purdue?
JQ: I’m a fourth generation Boilermaker…there was no question on where I was going to college. I knew I
wanted accounting from my classes in high school. Foundational stuff like bookkeeping spoke to me.
KB: So I’m guessing Purdue was a great experience for you?
JQ: I enjoyed being very involved at Purdue. I was in the marching band during the Drew Brees years, and
my very last day in the band was performing at the Rose Bowl.
KB: That’s hard to beat.
KB: Then grad school?
JQ: I moved to Indy and did a year at IUPUI to get my Masters and meet the 150 hour requirement. I
graduated in May, got married in June, then took Becker to prepare for the exam. My Mom was my
inspiration; I saw her dedication. I hoped I would have it and I did.
KB: Tell me about your time at EY.
JQ: Well, it was the Big Five then…but when I started in the Fall of 2002, the Enron debacle had just
happened and EY was picking up AA people and AA clients. It was a very turbulent time. I was in the first
joint recruiting class. My second year, it was the beginning of SOX.
KB: That’s crazy.
JQ: I stayed until I made manager, but the balance in my life wasn’t there. I applied for an internal audit job
at Conseco and ended up at their investment management subsidiary, 40|86 Advisors.
KB: What were your biggest takeaways from that experience?
JQ: I was the only woman department head. I was the only female in many meetings. It really taught me
how to connect with people. How to read the vibe and collaborate with people who are different than me.
Public accounting isn’t like that – we all had similar educations and similar training. It made me focus on
learning their language and talk like they talk. I asked two department heads to lunch at a different place
each week. That was a great way to round table issues, troubleshoot and talk through issues.
KB: What excited you about Viral Launch?
JQ: I like the tech industry. When I was with IT Consulting companies, it felt like dancing around the edge
of it, Viral Launch is in the thick of it. I was captivated by the owner – who is 25 years old. He dropped out
of school to start this company. His vision attracted me. His maturity and decisions are beyond his years.
This was a place that I wanted to attach myself to.
KB: Now you’re in the seat. How’s it going?
JQ: I’m focused on learning the business. I’m literally in class again…learning about selling on
Amazon…what we offer to our customers and why. I’m the first CFO Viral Launch has had; I’m trying to
assess what’s most important and what I should spend time on. Also, what things look like they are on fire?
The President and COO started in August, so together we’re able to focus on a lot of different areas of the
KB: What’s your impression of tech in Indy?
JQ: It’s booming…. growing almost more than we can accommodate from an employment resource
standpoint. The city is ready in almost every other area. You can get some really great incentives to start
and grow a tech business here. But hiring talented data scientists and developers is a battle that I don’t see
subsiding any time soon.
KB: Tell me more about that.
JQ: Companies are bringing talent here that isn’t grounded in Indy’s cost of living. People making $200K
on the coast aren’t moving to Indianapolis for $125K. It’s skewing salaries and causing movement locally
that wouldn’t occur otherwise.
KB: Talk to me about leadership.
JQ: Leaders need to be adaptable. Every person wants to be led a little differently. Some want a
scheduled sit-down with an agenda. Others want to do drop-ins. Leaders must be able to adapt to
changes in the marketplace and the business model as well. Leaders must be transparent and be able to
align with the rest of the organization. Transparency is a huge thing for me. I want my people to understand
what I’m working on. I try to explain why I’m asking for things. Everyone will do their slice better if they
understand the whole pie.
Understanding who people are…not just at work. What other time commitments do they have. How? I ask
a lot of questions. When I interview, I ask “what do you like to do?” I love to talk about sports. Do you
follow? Who is your team?
KB: What makes you mad?
JQ: Lack of transparency. When people are unwilling to collaborate and explain why they have the
position they do. Help me see your point of view. If they don’t share that makes me mad. I’ve seen that
more when the tone at the top is not collaborative.
KB: What wisdom do you have for the aspiring CFO?
JQ: Embrace change as a learning opportunity. Network. Talk to people. Find mentors.
KB: What’s your favorite movie?
JQ: Ever After with Drew Barrymore.
KB: What’s your favorite quote?
JQ: This too shall pass.
KB: What advice would you give your younger self?
JQ: Stop worrying so much. I’m a worrier, btw. Get that from my Dad. Mom is not a worrier.
I was pretty serious when I was younger….my husband has a great sense of humor that he’s shared with me.
I wish I would have had that sooner…the ability to laugh and find the humor in situations.
KB: You’re going to do great things at Viral Launch