A Look Into The Career of GFI Digital CFO Carrie Tsalamandris
How did you become interested in accounting?
Honestly, I fell into it. I was going to college for healthcare, and got a job as an accounts payable clerk. It came easy to me, and I was good at it. My boss at the time encouraged me to switch my major, which I did and the rest is history!
How long have you worked at GFI Digital?
I am in my 15th year with GFI Digital. The company was still in its early years when I started, I found the position through a job ad. I started out as an accountant and it was a smaller company at the time. Working at a smaller company allowed me to understand the whole business, instead of just my part. It allowed me to grow in my career because I was exposed to so much, as opposed to only focusing on one thing.
What are some of your career highlights?
One highlight of my career was right before starting at GFI Digital. I was part of a transition team that led in the outsourcing of Accounting and HR at GlaxoSmithKline in India. I spent the summer of 2006 in India, which was one of the most interesting things I have ever experienced.
Out of everything I’ve done in my career however, my most proud accomplishment is my time at GFI Digital. I came in as an accountant, and then moved to tax accountant after a year. Six months later, I was promoted to Accounting Manager; I held the role for 12 years before being named CFO last year.
How do you stay motivated in your role?
Staying motivated for me revolves around achievements and learning. I feel a deep sense of accomplishment when I learn something new and can apply the skill, or knowledge, into my work. I thrive on competition within myself. One of my strengths is “learner” (referring to the Clifton Strengths Assessment from Gallup) and I love to learn new things and apply what I learn in all aspects of my life.
What advice do you have for aspiring executives?
1. First, and foremost, you have to believe you can. Do not question yourself. If doubt is in your mind, it will be in others’ minds. You can tell when you’re talking to someone whether or not they’re sure of themselves and sure of what they’re saying. You have to be confident, even if it takes you time to build up that confidence.
2. Surround yourself with people who are more successful than you are. Truly listen and watch them. Learn from them and emulate the actions that make them successful.
3. You have to soak in as much as you can, learn as much as you can, and try to really understand it. It’s very easy to teach someone to do something, but it’s very hard to make them understand it. When people take the time to really understand something, that’s when they’re going to succeed. Successful people tend to have that desire to know more and dive deep into something.
4. It doesn’t matter what your title is or what you do, there’s just things that need to be done. You’re never too big to do the little jobs that keep a place running.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, is there a particular woman in your life that you look up to?
There are several in my life, my mother being one of them. She was an extremely hard worker, and had an amazing work ethic. I am blessed to have had a role model who instilled those qualities in me.
My parents worked very hard and that helped me develop my own work ethic. I grew up in a household where you go to school every day and have perfect attendance, unless you’re really ill. I wasn’t one of the kids who was allowed to stay home when they had the sniffles. You can sometimes tell who used to be that kid based on their work ethic as an adult.
Patti Crocker [GFI Digital’s Controller] is another woman I admire. She hired me here, took a chance on me, and taught me about the business. She allowed me to grow and become the person I am today. I value her expertise and advice, and use both on a regular basis.