On this episode, Heather speaks with Mike Pritchard, CFO at the CU Foundation. Mike shares the things that drive him to lead, his desire to continually learn and where he might mess up along the way.

Key takeaways:

  1. Leaders must have a cadence of accountability for themselves and others.
  2. Leadership is about evolution. We never arrive at the place that’s the end.
  3. Find a coach, whether formal or informal, who can help you become better.
  4. Don’t do leadership alone; we are better together.
  5. We all need to have technical skill to do our job, but at a certain point, we must seek to develop emotional intelligence.

This is a great one that will give any leader looking for a boost a motivation just what they need. Enjoy!

Mike Pritchard is the Chief Financial Officer of the University of Colorado Foundation. Mike, a certified public accountant, began his career as an auditor at Deloitte & Touche LLP. His career has been primarily in Colorado’s nonprofit sector, serving in various financial and development positions. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, where he majored in accounting and received a degree in business administration. He also recently completed a Masters of Business Administration in Finance in 2017 at the University of Phoenix. He also writes blogs.

Another Important Skill

Mike, already in a “C” level position, realized that having technical skills isn’t enough when you go higher in your career.

Your technical skills are important but, I’ve realized you need to pivot toward people skills, and emotional intelligence skills, and management skills. You can’t just be a technician eight hours a day. In fact, you really need to empower your team to be the technicians and you have to elevate up to this higher level. 

I started my career as a CPA and Auditor at Deloitte which is a terrific firm, and the individual that comes to mind is Dave Rooney.

Just watching Dave, not only his technical leadership– he was a great CPA, and Auditor, Partner. But he was also very involved in the community. I think that was one of my early mentors that made me realize that it’s great to be very skilled at your job. But how do you also give back to your community?


Every job I have, I can look up to different people that I’ve admired and seen what they’ve done well and I guess, tried to emulate that. Each step in the path of your journey is a different step, and you always learn.

Accountability with connections

Advocate always being connected.

The team knows when you’re the leader and you’re stressed. Everyone else knows it. But if you stay in that place too long, of just perpetual stress, it’s not good for you obviously for one, but it’s not good for your team either. I just try to dial back the stress. Occasionally it happens but don’t stay there. Retreat.

It’s so good to just have a good, cordial, connected relationship with your team. And when you’re stressed, it’s hard to do that well.

Weekly meeting with your team is critical. That could be a half hour, it could be an hour. But the weekly meetings are a good cadence of staying connected with the pulse of your team, and with the pulse of your direct reports. Often in our business and careers, wherever we work, you set goals. You set work projects you’re going to attack as a team, work on as a team.

Humans can be procrastinators. If meetings are every two weeks or once a month, people will sometimes procrastinate. Whereas if you can get into that rhythm of a weekly team meeting, then less likelihood of procrastination. People can stay on top things a little bit better with those weekly meetings.

Human behavior is the hardest change to make. That goes for ourselves, and that goes for our teams, and yeah, you need the cadence of accountability, whatever that looks like.


Always a student; never a master.” #growth #skills #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Stress is not a good place to live in all the time.” #growth #stress #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Accountability with Oneself

If you’re struggling in your career, your role, or your leadership position, I would recommend getting a coach. I think I should have at some critical points in time, and I am seeing a couple of individuals right now that are informally coaching me.

I just think it’s hard to do it alone. I do think the benefit of a one-on-one coach really will help somebody just get centered on where they are. And this coach hopefully can help you explore what you need to do to be a better leader.

You can try to do it on your own. Maybe it doesn’t need to be a formal coach. It could be a friend or a peer. I worked to connect with other CFOs at other local community foundations, and that was terrific and super helpful for me. In turn I think I’ve been helpful to them over the years as well.

Don’t do it alone. We’re better together, we’re better in communities. So figure out what that community aspect is for you, and go that route. Don’t do it on your own.

It's critical to connect and talk about what is going on, and then go out there and do the work.” #growth #skills #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


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