Andi Funk knows firsthand the power of lifting up others.
“That can mean helping someone else yourself or, equally as impactful, hearing about a problem or issue someone is facing and proactively connecting them to a friend,” she says.
She’s seen that play out in her own life. “Many good things that have happened in my life have stemmed from times I’ve given back,” she reflects. Part of what led her to become the Chief Financial Officer of energy storage technology company, EnerSys is because of her belief in doing good.
She was volunteering as Audit Committee Chairperson for the Berks County United Way when she first met Mike Schmidtlein, EnerSys’s former CFO, who later asked her to come on as his backfill successor.
“I’m a big believer that what you put out there comes back to you. Giving to others and to the community is not only personally fulfilling, it can also be very synergistic,” says Andi.
Now, in a leadership role not often held by women, Andi prioritizes giving back not just to her general community but specifically to other women and girls looking for guidance on finding their own paths to success.
That includes working with EnerSys’s Women in Leadership (WiL) business resource group and creating opportunities for younger talent to experience what it feels like to be a woman in business.
Read on to hear more about Andi’s story and the lessons she wants to pay forward to others.
Putting Herself in Positions to Succeed
Andi believes that your greatest strength is often your greatest weakness. She reflects that a key to her career progression has been identifying her strengths, and also being self-aware to recognize and compensate when these strengths play out as weaknesses.
“Math was a strong suit; being analytical always came pretty naturally to me,” says Andi, who started out as an accounting major with a sociology minor. She focused on accounting specifically because, “It’s the language of business, and no matter what you do in business, it’s important to understand how financial statements work and how a company makes money.”
After several years in industry, she wanted to go back and learn something new, and was deciding between pursuing a law degree and an MBA. Her then-employer was willing to sponsor the MBA, which steered Andi in that direction, and she began her program shortly after going on maternity leave with her first child.
“More than anything, I learned how to take on a ton. I learned how to grow. How to prioritize, how to identify the big rocks and know what I needed to focus on,” she says.
While she felt some trepidation about joining the program at the start—” What am I doing here?” she remembers thinking—she ended up recognizing the power in embracing something new.
“The important thing is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on roles that cause you to stretch and grow,” says Andi.
Inspired by that lesson, she went on to take on new roles in new parts of the business cycle: leading business development, where she negotiated and structured deals and oversaw due diligence; manufacturing, where she implemented a cost analysis program; corporate finance, where she took a company out of chapter 11 bankruptcy, restructured their loans, and put a new forecasting and budgeting process into place; and even C-suite leadership, where she built a meaningful work culture.
“[These experiences] allowed me to see across a business, and really be empathetic for the different functions and how they need to collaborate and work well together,” she says.
That is exactly what she’s now doing as EnerSys’s CFO. When she first joined the company as VP of Finance in the Americas, she instituted a new strategic planning process, along with other transformational efforts. Now, as CFO, Andi is working on integrated business planning process improvements to align internal resources and capital allocation decisions, and strengthening external stakeholders’ awareness of how EnerSys’s solutions are connected to a changing world.
“Our Lines of Business are tied to global transformational megatrends such as 5G, renewables, grid stabilization, electrification, automation, and changes in materials handling, because our products enable these things to happen more efficiently. This is an incredibly exciting time to be at EnerSys,” she says.
And an enjoyable one, to boot.
“What I really like about EnerSys is that we’re a large company, so you’ve got the complexities and interesting dynamics of being a midcap, global, publicly traded company. But it also feels like a family. It’s easy to get access to people. People have open-door policies. People care about each other,” she says. “From day one coming into the organization, you don’t feel like an outsider.”
Lifting Up Others
No matter how busy her schedule gets, Andi continues to prioritize making time for others, especially other women looking to build careers in finance.
Her efforts to that end include participating in coffee chats for the company’s WiL group; speaking to middle and high school students about her career; serving as a mentor and an executive in residence for college students; arranging job shadow sessions for young girls; leading PeaceTrust, an affinity group for a local women's shelter, Safe Berks, and participating in EnerSys’s own mentoring program, among other projects.
Andi is cognizant that she’s made choices along the way that have allowed her to have both the career and the family that she currently enjoys, and one of the main things she stresses with her mentees is the importance of examining their priorities.
“It’s easy to feel conflicting pressures like, ‘Oh, I really should be a stay-at-home mom’ and ‘I really want a successful career,’” she says. “You have to find out what’s the right place and balance for you. As my mother taught me and I now repeat to my own children, ‘With every privilege comes an accompanying responsibility.’ You can’t have one without the other; you have to want both.”
4 Key Lessons for Success in Leadership
Looking back at the path she’s taken, Andi can identify a few key learnings for others considering a role in leadership:
- “Have confidence in trying something new. Every time I got out of my comfort zone was where I've had the most rewarding work experiences and personal life experiences.”
- Have a sense of urgency, but temper your emotions. “Most things aren’t life and death. Identify those big rocks, work on them with vigor, and keep the rest in balance. All right, we have this issue—how are we going to solve it?”
- Prioritize helping others and being responsive. Andi re-emphasizes the importance of paying it forward. “Not only do you feel good, but you set yourself apart,” she says. “Good things come out of it. Be someone who helps others and can be relied upon.”
- “Have fun. Life is short. I believe in working hard, but this is our one shot at life. Leave your mark and do it smiling. Better yet, do it while laughing.”